Son of great Islamic scholar and freedom fighter Sheikhul Islam Maulana Husain Ahmed Madani (1879-1957), the 67-year old Maulana Syed Arshad Madani, who teaches Hadees at Daru Uloom Deoband, succeeded his elder brother Maulana Syed Asad Madani following his passing away on February 8, 2006 as President of the 86-year old Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind. While the legal battle over the post of Jamiat president with his nephew Maulana Mahmood Madani, Member of Rajya Sabha, continues in Delhi High Court, Maulana Arshad Madani along with his younger brother Maulana Asjad Madani and others remains engaged in countering propaganda against madarsas through campaigns and public meetings in different parts of India.
Born in 1941 Maulana Arshad Madani got the entire Quran by heart at the age of only eight years and the first man to listen to his hifz was his father himself. Later on, after completing the five-year course of Persian as per the then rule of Darul Uloom, Deoband, he began Arabic education in 1955, and took admission there in 1959. He completed his Hadees studies in 1963.
He was taught and trained by great Islamic scholars like Qari Asghar Ali, Maulana Syed Fakhruddin Moradabadi, Maulana Ejaz Ali, Allama Mohammed Ibrahim Balyavi, Maulana Jaleel Ahmed Kairanvi, Maulana Akhtar Husain Deobandi and Maulana Waheeduzzaman Kairanvi.
He went to Madinah and spent there 14 months before joining as a teacher of Hadees at Jamia Qasmia, Gaya (Bihar) in 1965. Later, he shifted in 1969 to Jamia Qasmia Madarsa Shahi, Moradabad (UP). He joined Darul Uloom, Deoband in 1982 and since then continues to teach Hadees there. Even after shouldering the responsibility of the president of Jamiat in February, 2006, he manages to go to Deoband every week and devote three days to his favourite work of teaching. He is a member of the working committee of Jamiat since 1984.
As a man of letters, he takes interest in the scholarly works since very beginning. He is credited to render his father Sheikhul Islam Maulana Husain Ahmed Madani’s Urdu Tafseer-e-Quran (Commentary of Quran) into Hindi in two volumes in 1991 after a long dedication of eleven years. His other intellectual works include the 722-page analysis of Ibn Wahban’s papers “Aqadul Faraed Fi Takmil Qaidus Sharaet (in Fiqah Hanfi)” in two volumes; 10 out of 13 volumes of analysis of Hafiz Badruddin Aini’s unique papers “Nakhbul Afkar Fi Tanqih Moba Nil Akhbar Fi Sharah M’anil A’sar” after locating it from an Egyptian library; and his father’s autobiography “Naqsh-e-Hayat” form Urdu into Arabic.
He also spares time for social works. He is the person to introduce contemporary education in a religious environment through Maulana Madani Memorial English Medium School and other educational institutions as well as ITIs under the Madani Charitable Trust, founded in 1997. He heads a number of Islamic seminaries and bodies.
Following are the excerpts from an exclusive interview given on May 6, 2008 night at Jamiat headquarters to A U Asif, Editor, www.fanawatch.com.
Question: As an Islamic scholar and head of a well known Muslim organization, how do you see your own country and the world at large today?
Answer: There are different religions in the world and every religion has urged its followers to spend life full with virtues and morals and keep away from vices. But it’s unfortunate that people’s link with religions and its moral teachings have weakened at a time when scientific and technological advancements have touched a high point. As a result, the family system that had strengthened under religious teachings is declining day by day. This situation aggrieves me and I think unless religious values are restored, it would be difficult to keep the new generation on track. These values are a must to make a person human in real sense. So far as India was concerned, the situation was different in comparison to the developed nations. However, after globalization, things have begun to worsen here also. What we want in plain words is that old traditions and religious teachings are back so that humanity is not at stake.
Q: As is obvious, the issue of terrorism got a momentum with the call of “War against Terror” by US President George Walker Bush after 9/11. So, what all of a sudden prompted the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind to steer an anti-terror movement now after almost six years?
A: Its big reason is when the symbol of terrorism came into our country, the communal elements welcomed it. It was only after that the institutions wherein Islam was being taught were charged as the centres of terrorism. Every time fingers of doubts were pointed towards these institutions. This all was clearly an onslaught on our history of 150 years. It is to point out that the first Jehad against the British colonialism was fought in 1831. What occurred in 1857 was second Jehad in which one lakh ulema were martyred. Afterwards, the question arose about a centre for waging Jehad continuously against the British. This was the time when Darul Uloom was founded at Deoband in 1867. It is irony now that wherein was laid the foundation stone of Jehad for Independence 150 years ago, began to be alleged as the centre of terrorism. We have come forward only to save this great legacy. This all started within one-and-half years in India. One should know that since the Partition there were a number of communal riots resulting into loss of thousands of lives and properties but we didn’t rise up. Now, the present critical situation has forced us to come out and counter it. We had nothing to do with Bush’s call for “War against Terror” in 2001. The terrorism exists in the whole world. However, in India this act is being done by communal forces.
We in our campaigns take up both the points---one against terrorism and the other against the anti-terror measures resulting into harassment of innocent people. We say that Muslims are not terrorists but the terrorists are making a point to bring them under police custody by labeling baseless charges. That’s why only Muslims are victims. In Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, Muslim detainees outnumber those belonging to other communities and groups. It is now on record that the militancy in the Naxalite-affected areas is much higher than what is in Jammu and Kashmir.
Q: On April 27, 2008, another Muslim body All India Milli Council (AIMC), involving other religious communities, held a national convention on “Terrorism and Justice”, condemning both terrorism and anti-terror measures resulting in the harassment of a large number of innocent people. How do you view it?
A: We see with high regard any effort that is against the violation of justice. It is worth-regard that our brethren of the country come forward and raise voice against injustices. It is to point out that we have already started our campaign against terrorism with the conventions at Hyderabad, Kanpur, Bhopal, Mau, Fatehpur, Meerut and Delhi. We are making it a national issue by taking all into confidence.
Q: There are so many other issues like moral degeneration, particularly among the new generation after the advent of globalization. Doesn’t your organization take up these issues?
A: This is against our traditions. As I made it clear earlier, we want to keep alive the old constructive traditions and values that comprise the basis of our social life. It would be ironic that we adopt an alien culture and give up our own culture. So far as the domestic Violence Act is concerned, it is tragic that live-in relationship has been recognized there at par with a married couple. The contents of the Act show that our government is saying good bye to our own culture and traditions and adopting a trend that is taking our new generation, particularly our daughters and sisters towards nudism and destruction. This all is due to going away from healthy old traditions taught by religions.
Q: Now, some other question. US President Bush, who is relinquishing office within a year, has held responsible the prosperity of the middle class Indians for the global food crisis and price rise. What is your comment on his remarks?
A: We should first of all check whether prosperity in fact exists or not. For this, we will have to go to the countryside and then come to any conclusion. The rural India is actual India. If there is no prosperity in the countryside, it would be quite wrong to say that middle class in India is prosperous. A large part of rural India is still illiterate. Then how can one reach a conclusion that it is prosperous? One should compare their living conditions with those living in America and Europe. In Muslim community the situation is more pitiable. There are other factors that lead to global food crisis and price hike. Actually, such propaganda is made to hide the facts, bitter facts.
Q: How do you view the call given by Saudi King Abdullah for an inter-faith dialogue at global level? Do you feel its necessity in India too in the Indian context?
A: I personally think that a concerted effort has been made to portray Islam in a wrong way by those feared by its veracity. The purpose is nothing but to create hate against Islam. Therefore, if King Abdullah’s mission is to remove misunderstandings about Islam so that hate Islam campaign comes to an end, it is welcome. However, such experiments in India have not borne the desired fruits. Jamiat had interacted in the past with top leaders of RSS. The RSS leaders were considering religion the basis of nationality but Jamiat was instead insisting upon country. The RSS had at last agreed to our thinking but the dialogue couldn’t continue as they were not serious and had vested interests.
---A U Asif can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org