Growing fascism and Islamophobia forced both factions to come together 

Abdul Bari Masoud portrays how amidst growing fascism and Islamophobia the two factions of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind have passed resolutions to merge. In fact, they have already begun the unification process in earnest.

After splitting up 14 years ago, now both the factions of the 100-year-old Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH), a proponent of composite nationalism, have begun the unification process in earnest.  Both groups have officially passed resolutions allowing their respective presidents to take the initiative in this regard. The move is viewed as a good step towards the uniting of democratic forces in light of the country’s current strengthening of fascistic rule.

The shift happened following the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the working committee of the JUH group led by Maulana Mahmood Madani on July 22. The merger was also approved last month by the Maulana Arshad Madani faction’s working committee.

According to the official press note, “Maulana Mahmood Asa’d Madani presided over a two-day meeting of the Working Committee of JUH during which the continuing Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind reconciliation process, the ongoing communal crisis, hate crimes, the safeguarding of the Constitution, and many other significant matters were thoroughly reviewed.

The previous proceedings were read out by Maulana Hakimuddin Qasmi, General Secretary of JUH. In his presidential speech, JUH President Maulana Mahmood Madani expressed concern over the current situation in the country and said that we need to make every kind of effort. The organisation is conducting an interfaith harmony programme in addition to constitutional and social efforts in this regard and has established a department to fight hate crime incidents. He, however, said that the situation cannot improve without the adoption of the right policy by the government.

It further stated, “In today’s meeting, the issue of the ongoing reconciliation process in the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind was discussed for a long time. After long deliberation, it was unanimously approved that the Working Committee of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind appreciates the recent reconciliation process of the organisation and agrees to take forward the process of reconciliation. To advance this process, the WC authorised President of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Maulana Mahmood Asa’d Madani to continue the process of reconciliation in accordance with Jamiat’s constitution and it also considers it necessary that the concerned parties should not only limit themselves to verbal discussions but present their suggestions and positions in written form.

“Besides that, to strengthen and complete the reconciliation efforts, the WC passed a resolution that all the members of the Working Committee, special invitees, state presidents and general secretaries should submit their resignation to the President of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, Maulana Mahmood Asa’d Madani”.

Similarly, the Arshad group also passed a resolution to this effect at its Working Committing meeting held on June 18.

The resolution read as: “It is to be noted that the subject of unification of both the Jamiat (factions) was also discussed in the working committee. In view of the importance of the subject, each member was allowed to speak freely. After an hour of discussion, all the members unanimously gave full authority to Maulana Arshad Madani to finalise the process of unification of the both Jamiats”.

Maulana Arshad Madani said that it is expected, “If Allah wills, that the process of unity will come out with goodness and blessings, and the servants of Jamiat Ulama will be able to work with unity and consensus for the service of the people with more enthusiasm.”

The reconciliation process was on the cards since the Delhi High Court ordered both factions to resolve their issues through arbitration and reach a settlement in 2017.

In this direction, Arshad Madani has been invited to the Mahmood Madani faction’s annual general body meeting on May 28 in Deoband. According to sources, the purpose of the invitation was to determine whether there was a way the organisation might become more unified and powerful.

But first, we must work to develop and unite our community before they call members of other communities. There shouldn’t be a breach in this area, a source stated.

Arshad Madani reported that he was greeted enthusiastically at the Deoband gathering.

“When I spoke at the meeting, I predicted that there would soon be a day when this Maidan would be home to every member of both groups collectively. The members enthusiastically embraced this declaration. So, we believed that the merger was possible. On June 18, we had a working committee meeting, and we approved of a merger resolution,” he said.

The merger process has got impetus due to the prevailing dire situation in the country. This was also vouched by Jamiat leaders, who told Radiance that in the wake of rising communalism and anti-Muslim prejudice in the country, it was thought necessary to combine the JUH’s two factions.

This was also underlined by Arshad Madani saying that rising Islamophobia in the country made it imperative for the factions to come together and “fight discrimination against Muslims, together”.

Echoing his views, Hakimuddin Qasmi also said the need for the reunification of two factions was felt to meet the challenges of growing communalism.

It is to recall that the organisation broke into the Arshad group and Mahmood group in March 2008 after Arshad Madani succeeded his brother Maulana Asa’d Madani as president in February 2006.  For 41 years, Maulana Asa’d Madani had been the organization’s head. Asa’d Madani had run the organisation for 41 years who succeeded his illustrious father Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani who propounded the composite nationalism theory during the heydays of the freedom movement.

Maulana Mahmood Madani, the son of Maulana Asa’d Mandani, gradually assumed control of the JUH’s faction, first as its general secretary and then as its president.

The Mahmood group’s president was Usman Mansoorpuri, who held the post up until his passing away in May 2021. Prior to being sworn in as president on September 18, 2021, Mahmood Madani took over as president in an acting capacity.

When Arshad Madani assumed leadership of the organisation in 2006 following the death of the previous president,  Asa’d Madani, the conflict within JUH was sparked. Mahmood Madani, who was also Arshad Madani’s nephew, served as the group’s general secretary. It is known that disputes between Arshad Madani, Mahmood Madani, and the executive committee members immediately arose regarding the allocation of authority and the operation of the organisation.

However, a source pointed out that the split was not on ideological ground. “The division occurred as a result of the organisation’s inability to accept the president’s functioning at the time. Members of the working committee have expressed their opposition. It was solely an organisational issue and not an ideological one.”

The rival sides are now attempting to come together to strengthen the organisation, however, in light of the rising discrimination toward Muslims.

The working committee also passed a resolution asking that all working committee members, special invitees, state presidents, and general secretaries submit their resignation to Maulana Mahmood Madani, the president of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, in order to enable the merger.

But both sides are mum over the roadmap and conditions for a merger. When this scribe contacted JUH (M) general secretary Hakimuddin Qasmi on the issue, he said, “We would cross that bridge when we come to it.”

He said everything is now in the public domain, therefore no need to tell further, adding that the working committee unanimously approved the plan for this merger and appreciated the efforts of Mahmood Madani and Arshad Madani in this connection.

However, it has not yet been determined how the two working committees’ members will be accommodated following the merger. The working committee typically consists of 30 to 35 persons. The working committees of the two groups currently have a total membership of about 60 persons.

On all significant topics, it has been decided in principle that no leader will go to press without the working committee’s approval.

Jamiat is one of the most renowned organisations of Islamic academics in the country who follow the Deobandi school of thought. A group of religious scholars, including Sanaullah Amritsari, Muhammad Ibrahim Mir Sialkoti, Kifayatullah Dehlawi, and Abdul Bari Firangi Mahali, established it in November 1919 to fight the colonial rule. In the beginning, it was not identified with any school of thought as Maulana Sanaullah Amritsari was a follower of Ahl-e-Hadith School. 

The formation of Jamiat is a culmination of the Ulema’s struggle against the British rule. The history recorded that Ulema made unparalleled sacrifices for the country’s liberation from the colonial yoke.  Jamiat actively participated in the Khilafat Movement. Additionally, it was against India’s division and advocated for composite nationalism, which holds that Muslims and Non-Muslims together make up one nation. The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, a minor breakaway faction within this organisation, made the decision to back the Pakistan cause. Kifayatullah Dehlawi authored the Jamiat’s constitution.

As of 2021, it is expanded over several states and has a number of established institutions and wings, including the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind Halal Trust, the Legal Cell Institute, and the Jamiat Youth Club. It claims to have 1.5-crore members and followers.

“The Jamiat has a history dating back more than a century. We stayed throughout the time of Partition, when some Muslims advocated the notion that Hindus and Muslims could not coexist. Our thinking was that since the two communities had coexisted for millennia, why would Muslims need their own country? A group of Hindus who are promoting divisiveness and hatred now are putting forward a similar argument. And the current regime is encouraging this communal mindset. The Jamiat must unite at this point for the sake of amplifying our voice,” concludes Arshad Madani.

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