Remembering Asad Madani- Asserting Indian Muslims’ Patriotism & Secularism

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

NEW DELHI— Breaking false images held about Indian Muslims’ religious identity and their patriotism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week acclaimed contribution made by Maulana Syed Asad Madani (1928-2006) in both the fields. “Apart from being a true Muslim, Maulana was very secular and progressive. He was a great nation builder.” Signaling that religious disposition of Indian Muslims should not be viewed as an impediment in their inclination towards national sentiments, Singh praised Madani as “deeply religious and spiritual” with a “modern, secular and progressive outlook.” Speaking in Urdu, at Fida-e-Millat seminar (April 23-24) organized by Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind (JUH) where he released a collection of Madani’s parliamentary speeches, Singh said: “His speeches in Rajya Sabha present to us a modern mind, a patriotic and nationalistic mind.”

Singh also credited Madani for his vision of a developed India, his concept of secularism and his stand against religious extremism. “His vision of India as a developed country went beyond GNP (gross national product) and other indicators of economic growth. It included in its scope the triumph of democratic ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity and substantial advancement of socio-economic conditions of all sections of society,” Singh said. “Today when so much talk is going on to make India a developed country by 2020 we have to be mindful of words of Maulana Madani,” he asserted. On secularism, quoting Madani, Singh said: “His words that ‘True secularism in the country could only prevail, if every section of society is provided with an equal opportunity for progress’ assume great significance in our combined quest for a life of dignity, peace and prosperity for all sections of our societies, including religious minorities.” He “remained in the forefront of movement against religious fundamentalism, bigotry and terrorism,” Singh said. Condemning (mis)-use of religion for dividing people as “a dangerous practice which needs to be curbed,” Singh said: “The sage counsel of Maulana Madani that we should refrain from encouraging religious hatred and enmity in name of religion and caste sprang from his tolerant and open minded approach which he linked to our prosperity.”

Acknowledging contributions made by Asad Madani, at conclusion of the two-day seminar, United Progressive Alliance chairperson and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi said that he and other leaders had shown that no particular color (section) had a “monopoly” on patriotism.

During his lifetime, Madani provided crucial leadership to JUH, Dar-ul-Uloom (Deoband, Uttar Pradesh) and in promoting cause of Indian Muslims. JUH, founded in 1919 is regarded as the largest apolitical organization of Indian Muslims, which played a major role in the country’s freedom struggle. Against this backdrop, on sidelines of the seminar, Muslim Observer sought views on role played by Madani in his lifetime and on whether the same ideals are being pursued by organizations he remained associated with. Maulana Arshad Madani, president JUH, laid emphasis on this organization having always opposed communalism. Underlining opposition of JUH to India’s partition, he said: “Though riots have taken place now and then in the country, Maulana Madani never let JUH be driven by communal frenzy.” When needed to espouse causes of Muslims, Madani resorted to moves such as “jail bharo” (court arrest), signature campaigns and holding of major rallies, Arshad said. Some issues on which Madani exercised such moves were in demanding compensation for riot-affected Muslims equal to that given to Sikhs, Uttar Pradesh government’s black legislation against construction of mosques without permission of state government, ordinance as per which scheduled castes/tribes were entitled to reservation only as Hindus and not on conversion to Islam or Christianity and so forth. On JUH’s future plans, Arshad said: “We plan to pursue demand of reservation for Muslims in keeping with Sachar Committee’s report. There should be adequate legislation against communal riots. We are also pursuing with demand for a proper probe into Malegaon blasts.” Malegaon blasts occurred on September 8, 2006, with Muslims being main victims. JUH questions investigations blaming Muslims for the blasts.

Concerning Muslim women, Madani underlined the importance of ensuring education for them and securing them share in their parental property. Drawing attention to importance being given to ensure education for women, Maulana Asjad Madani, chairperson Freedom Fighter Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani Educational Trust, drew attention to a model school, formed in 2000, being run in Deoband. In addition, they also have a fund for helping helpless women. Besides, Asjad elaborated on their having formed Jharkhand as center of their social service cutting across religious boundaries. Over the past four years, they have dug at least 234 wells in the area ensuring water supply to around 250 villages. Measures such as distribution of blankets in winter and food-grains are taken periodically to help weaker sections, he said. Besides, numerous social service centers, including educational, being supported by JUH are spread across the country. Assisting carnage-affected Muslims in Gujarat, JUH has allotted five orphans to a widow, to whom all essential help is given by this organization.

There is no denying, when tragedy strikes, be it natural or manmade, JUH workers never hesitate in reaching promptly to help victims. As expressed by Mahmood A. Madani, general secretary JUH, who is also a member Rajya Sabha, sphere of Asad Madani’s activities included “relief and rehabilitation of victims of riots or natural calamities.” In addition, he strived for “safeguarding Islamic Auqaf (endowments), social reform and safeguarding Muslim Personal Law,” Mahmood said.

Against this backdrop, by holding the seminar in memory of Maulana Asad Madani, JUH has played its part in asserting patriotism and secularism of a religious Indian Muslim!