Muslim Reform Movements in India
Apart from this there exists a feeling of intolerance towards the Muslims within a section of an Indian Hindu population. This feeling amongst a section is utilized by sectarian Hindu political parties & other Hindu organizations to further their goals. But having said that, one must also know that an overwhelming majority of Hindus are tolerant & sympathetic towards the plight of their Muslim brethren.
But a definite shift in this condition is being noticed off late. The governments, both in the states & the center, are paying increased attention to the welfare of Muslims in their respective areas. Apart from government efforts many private bodies & Islamic scholarly organizations are also doing their bit to break the hold of orthodox Muslim. One such organization is Darul Uloom.
The influence of Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi
Although Darul Uloom is known for its orthodox views on matters relating to Islam, a man called Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi is trying to change that a little. For long now he has been trying to balance the orthodox Islamic views with that of the modern values. As vice chancellor of Darul Uloom, he has started educating the Muslim youth on modern subjects like science, engineering, medicine, mathematics, art, literature, along with the traditional Islamic religious education. Vastanvi’s focus area primarily is modern education. He believes that for Muslim youth to compete in a globalized world, it is a must that they be armed with modern knowledge rather than just religious teachings.[pullquote_right]He believes that for Muslim youth to compete in a globalized world, it is a must that they be armed with modern knowledge rather than just religious teachings.[/pullquote_right]
Vastanvi’s approach ushers in a whole new era in the area of Islamic education in India. He has shown that traditional modes of Islamic education can live side by side with a modern globalised education system. Being an MBA himself Vastanvi knows the hardships that one may have to face today if he does not have the required skills & knowledge to compete in a highly globalised economic system & in this regard Vastanvi’s efforts have been important.
For long the Daril Uloom Deoband has been known for issuing Fatwaas on various matters ranging from women’s clothing to bank deposit interests. But it is also a fact that extreme radicalization of Deoband has not happened so far. While Deobands in Africa, Pakistan & in the middle-east have been radicalized to a great extent, Deoband in India have stayed away from that trend. They have condemned the Taliban in Afghanistan & have also come out strongly against sending young Muslim men to “Jihad”. But other than that, the views of the Darul Uloom Deoband has been rooted in tradition Muslim orthodoxy.
Obstacles in His Way
But all of Vastanvis’s achievements have not come without controversies. His mode of education were questioned & criticized by orthodox Muslim clerics who believe in the supremacy of Islamic religious teachings over any other form. Early this year Vastanvi came under heavy attack from this section when he was quoted by the Indian media as saying that Muslims should forget about the 2002 Gujarat riots & move on. This was seen by many as condoning the actions alleged to have been perpetrated by the Gujarat administration under the chief minister of the state Narendra Modi.
Although Vastanvi later clarified his stand saying he never gave a “clean chit” to Modi but the damage had been done already. He was heavily criticized & was forced to put in his papers. But what happened afterwards was the real story & which probably speaks volume for the direction the majority of Muslim youth in India wants to take. There was a tremendous outpouring of support for Vastanvi by the Muslim youths. The mainstream Indian media also came forward to lend a helping hand. Vastanvi was later given back his post of vice-chancellor & an enquiry was ordered into his statements.
The Muslims in India, although economically starved, have so far been unaffected by global scourge of Islamic extremism by & large. When the 9/11 attack happened in New York & Washington, no Indian Muslims were found to be involved in that. Also while madrassas in Pakistan have become breeding grounds for budding extremists, Indian madrassas have so far been out of that trend. But without proper education & channeling of youth’s energy this scenario could change easily. Vastanvi’s approach is a step in the right direction. It should be copied by other progressive clerics who want to see the Muslim youth prosper in this country. It is already finding resonance with many other like minded Muslim clerics & scholars in India.[pullquote_left]Vastanvi’s approach is a step in the right direction. It should be copied by other progressive clerics who want to see the Muslim youth prosper in this country.[/pullquote_left]
It is all the more important that the government in India provides all the necessary support to people like Vastanvi to bring the Muslim masses out of poverty & change the direction of the young Muslim population in India towards education & career rather than “Jihad”.
Vastanvi’s approach has been the subject of much debate & controversy. But it leaves no doubt that his is the right approach towards giving the Muslim population of India a much more prosperous future. His ideas are not at all at odds with the traditional Islamic teachings. Thereby questioning of his methods & criticizing it will serve no purpose at all.