Vastanvi should have been respected : Darul Uloom Deoband; Its terror instincts and Islamic isolation : “After Vastanvi; An Indian express concern” on humanrescueintermedia

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Indian Express

After Vastanvi

The Indian Express Posted online: Tue Jul 26 2011, 00:31 hrs
Darul Uloom Deoband, tucked away in UP’s Saharanpur district, has always struggled with its prominence as the most influential centre of Islamic learning in South Asia. Buffeted by winds of social and educational change, and with questioners constantly seeking fatwas to tease out the current attitude of its muftis, it’s never had the option of isolationism. So, while it has resisted a modernising revision of its curriculum or views on women’s equality, it long ago conceded the need to open itself to English language classes and computers. And while its network of alumni has been a source of pride, it has — especially post-9/11 — been emphatic in highlighting a firm separation between Deoband and the “Deobandi” madrassas in Pakistan that serve as incubators of extremism. Indeed, three years ago, Darul Uloom issued a fatwa denouncing all forms of terrorism, while questioning the easy association of acts of terrorism with Muslims.

Therefore, the controversy over Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi, who became the first vice chancellor to be dismissed from Darul Uloom this weekend, was always seen to be about more than the man. As the first VC to not be a Qasmi — that is, alumnus of Deoband — he had the aim of inculcating a new culture of entrepreneurship among students. Whether or not he gave what’s seen to be a “clean chit” to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to make his point about the can-do spirit of the western states, the statement was always going to be controversial and polarising. Predictably, it allowed Vastanvi’s formidable rivals for control of Deoband a toe-in, that too before he had taken charge. And certainly, perhaps inevitably, they have now reasserted themselves. But the highly publicised manner in which he placed his agenda on the table also put in sharp relief the seminary’s preference to change after garnering a consensus, and then too incrementally — and thereby hold its own.

Darul Uloom has faced many crises in recent years — most notably, in the slew of fatwas five-six years ago that were seen to be distinctly anti-women. It has so far managed to deal with them and quickly find its equilibrium. This one will test Deoband’s capacity to do so under an unrelenting spotlight.



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