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Maulana Marghoobur Rahman (1914-2010)

Maulana Marghoobur Rahman, one of the longest serving rectors of the famed Islamic seminary Darul Uloom at Deoband, passed away on December 8 in his ancestral town of Bijnor leaving behind thousands of Deoband alumni across the world grieved. He was 96 and had been residing in Bijnor for sometime due to increasingly failing health. He is survived by one son (Maulana Anwar Ilahi) and one daughter. His body was brought from Bijnor to Deoband where the funeral prayers were offered and he was buried at Mazar-e-Qasmi, the graveyard closest to Darul Uloom. Prayer and condolence meetings were held throughout India and abroad.

He took over the rectorship following the unfortunate turn of events that led to the ouster of Qari Muhammad Tayyib (1897-1983) in 1982. The conditions could have worsened further but for Maulana Marghoobur Rahman’s farsightedness and sincerity. His tenure saw the issue of the landmark fatwa against terror in February 2008 calling terror attacks on innocents against the tenets of Islam.

Maulana Marghoobur Rahman remained rector of Darul Uloom for 30 years, the second longest period after Qari Mohammad Tayyib. His strength lay in his patience, perseverance and commitment. He avoided controversies and tried to amend the fractured relationships that had earlier bruised the very notion and objective behind the establishment of Darul Uloom, which is seen as a great institute of Islamic discipline.

Maulana Marghoob managed to keep Darul Uloom free from political factionalism. Darul Uloom grew in strength and number of students, the administration ran smooth and the academic atmosphere became conducive for learning.

Maulana Marghoobur Rahman witnessed the formation of a breakaway faction from the Darul Uloom in 1982, but was able to stabilise the institution. Darul Uloom (Waqf) Deoband, the parallel institution that was set up after the ouster of Qari Muhammad Tayyib, declared a day off as a mark of respect. In more recent times, when one of the largest Muslim organisations, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, got divided between two groups, he was able to keep the balance between both the sides and mediate at crucial moments.

Born in 1914 in a learned family of Bijnor, he received early education at Madrasa Rahimia and then went to Darul Uloom Deoband in 1929 to get further education and studied there under the guidance of Shaikhul Islam Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani (1879-1957) and other great ulama of that period. He also got Ifta degree and was himself a good Mufti. But instead of adopting teaching, he preferred the administrative work.

In 1962 Maulana Margoobur Rahman was appointed Member of Majlis-e-Shura (the Consultative Body) of Darul Uloom Deoband. His father Maulana Mashiatullah Bijnori was also a member of Majlis-e-Shura. In 1981 when the then rector Qari Muhammad Tayyib needed an assistant, all eyes fell on Maulana Marghoob. Following the tumultuous phase of 1982, he became the full-fledged rector of the seminary and held the post till his demise.

Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani of Varanasi has been temporarily appointed rector of Darul Uloom to serve till 10 January 2010. By then the Consultative Body will decide who will succeed Maulana Marghoob.

The writer is a freelance journalist educated at Darul Uloom Deoband.