Maulana Mahmood Madani, India Today Conclave 2009

13 03 2009

Transcript of address by Maulana Mahmood Madani, former Gen Secy, Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind

The Dalai Lama made some valuable suggestions in the first session. If we follow them, it will mean a solution to 90 per cent of our current problems.

Today’s subject is what is the role of religion? In fact, the greatest problem is terrorism, which is a fact. And terrorism is giving a bad name to it. Today’s topic has changed from religion to Islam. But the crux of the problem is that terrorism is being used for political gains. People are using religion for political gains.

Who has been maligned by this? Religion, or plainly speaking, Islam. On the other side are those who have started the war on terror. It has its speakers, writers and fighters and they too have targeted Islam. One of the speakers said terrorism cannot be fought because there is no weapon to prevent suicide bombers. But I feel responsible people should neither lose hope nor show pessimism.

Some of us are putting up resistance against those who cause terror as well as those who are fighting it. Both—people who are causing terror as well as those who have started the war on terror—are helping breed terrorism. I meet people who disdain my appearance, especially my turban, my beard and my dress. To them, I am the symbol of a terrorist. Branding a particular appearance as terrorist or jihadi is helping terrorists achieve their nefarious designs.

A terrorist should never be called a jihadi. Jihad is mandatory for every Muslim as enshrined in the Quran but we will have to differentiate between jihad and terrorism. Jihad is being given a wrong connotation—shedding blood, indiscriminate killing, suicide bombing—and this has boosted the morale of the terrorists. Opposition to terrorism is the greatest jihad which is incumbent on every Muslim. We are also struggling to save the image of Islam and its misuse by vested interests.

I could not understand fully what Irshad Manji had said therefore I don’t know how to react. I hold madarsas is high esteem. I know of an organisation that runs 3,000 madarsas and another 12,000 are associated with it but these are an asset to India as well as Indian Muslims.

I am asked on television whether I love Islam or my country more. This is a tough question. If I say Islam, they call me unpatriotic. I am always asked to prove my loyalty to either Islam or to India. Now I say, I have two eyes and you should tell me I keep and which I should give away. But I give preference to my religion which has inculcated in me the spirit to lay down my life for the sake of my motherland.

Islam respects women but Muslims do not follow that. At the same time, Islam does not have casteism as well as parochialism but our society still practices it.

I regard India as a magnificent country and the best country for Muslims on this planet. We have a pluralistic society which is why India has spread the message of a civilised society. Our culture inspires us to love, not hate.

Women have different roles to play in a society and it is a known fact that if women are literate that community will remain literate. But women today face two cultures—one that raises the banner of advancement by creating nudity and the other that seeks to imprison them by curbing their rights. I feel women should be given the freedom to do what they want to do.

Transcript of Q&A session with Irshad Manji, Maulana Mahmood Madani and S. Gurumurthy

Akbar (moderator): …that was raised to Maulana Mohammad. Ali and he gave this answer in 1925 after the Khilafat movement. And I must say I was so happy to hear about gender bias, I say this to audiences which are predominantly Muslim when I get an opportunity to address them and I am very pleased that at his last conference about seven thousand Maulvis were there in Hyderabad when he was launching his continued effort to explain and challenge the philosophy of terrorism which he is doing all over the country, he asked me to speak and there I thought it more important.

And I keep telling my fellow Indian Muslims that if you do not eliminate gender bias in your society, you are not going to enter the 19th century – who is inviting you into the twenty-first? You are just not going to get it. And in fact it is a very valid point that he made that it is really the struggle for modernity that we are facing. I know the Pakistani High Commissioner is here, but I will beg his pardon, because I do want to make a point which I hope you will not take amiss – I do believe it very strongly so therefore I am making it, not in the purpose of nationalism but I hope with a little more, let us say, less emotional objectivity.

What is the difference between India and Pakistan? Indians and Pakistanis are the same people, they have same strengths, same weaknesses. I believe, it is my view, that we have moved in different trajectories because the idea of India is stronger than the Indian and the idea of Pakistan is weaker than the Pakistani. That is the basis. And what is it?

Basically, I believe that India was fashioned around a modern idea which is built around, what might be called, three equalities and one equity. Three equalities being equal political right, democracy – one vote, one person, religious rights – secularism, irrespective of your religion you are equal before the law, number three – gender equality, critical, gender equality is critical for the creation of a modern society, and fourth economic equity – you cannot have economic equality that is an absurdity, but economic equity over and over again our various government, successive governments have actually fashioned economic policy with a view that there can growth without social justice, there cannot be.

So, this is what makes us a modern state and I do not really believe that faith is sufficient glue for the creation of a nation. If any faith, if for example Islam was sufficient for creation of nationhood, why would there be twenty-two Arab countries? As simple as that, however, I know nobody is asking for the revocation of the two nations but I think it may still make sense for the revocation of what might be called the two nation theory.

Finally one point that Guru you made about the cutting of trees. No author can ever resist an opportunity to plug his book. Right! If you read the Shade of Swords, Hazrat Abu Bakr who was the first Khalifa to send out army, right, he defined the ten rules of Jihad. Rule number eight or seven is very clear, seven is that you cannot kill innocents and so on that is well known and well advertised. Rule number eight that you cannot destroy palm trees, that you cannot destroy trees; you cannot do what is called destruction of fields which is part of Koran philosophy.

You cannot touch anyone worshiping, even if it is idol worship and so on. So there are great things that we have to find in common, the point is what to find what is in common rather than to find what creates conflict. And I think on that note may I, there is still time, may be take questions. I am sure there are questions. Please identify yourself. I will have one request, which is not a request, please be brief and make it a question rather than a viewpoint. Remember that Uncle Aroon has invited only three speakers.

Irshad Manji: I must tell you that I don’t consider myself a moderate Muslim at all. There is nothing moderate about my position. What I am is a, mind it, reformed Muslim and it is a very important distinction that Americans, especially as they stumble over themselves to determine who is an extremist and who is moderate, I think the more important distinction to be made today is who is a moderate and who is a reformer. Let me just quickly explain what I mean by this distinction.

Moderate Muslims certainly denounce violence that takes place under the banner of Islam. In many cases, public opinion has pushed them to do so. But the problem is they still deny the role that religion plays in inciting the very violence that is committed in religion’s name. You will often hear the next time a bombing or a beheading takes place, an Islamist group claims credit for this, you will often hear moderate Muslims say – no, no, please don’t misunderstand, Islam has nothing to do with this.

Not only is this dishonest, as many of the terrorists themselves prove, when they quote from scriptures, okay, not only is it dishonest, but it is dangerous, because in their denial moderate Muslims in effect hand over the opportunity for reinterpretation to those with already malignant intentions. In effect moderate Muslims say, “you terrorist get to walk away with the show, we are not going to come back at you with bold and competing reinterpretations – we can’t, because if we did, then we will be acknowledging that religion does really play a role”.

And we can’t go there since Islam is perfect. We reform minded Muslims, who are in a much smaller vocal category, we say – hold on, we must go there. Just as liberal Jews and liberal Christians had reinterpreted their violent passages for a brand new context, we have to do the same. And reinterpretation is not the same as re-writing. As a matter of fact, the Kuran itself contains three times as many verses calling on Muslims to think and analyze and reflect instead of versus that tell us only what is right or only what is wrong. In other words, three times as many verses promoting ‘Ichdihat’ than verses promoting blind submission. So by that calculation alone, I believe Sir, reformed minded Muslims are at least as authentic as the moderate mainstream and quite possibly more constructive. Thank you.

Question: My name is Dinesh Trivedi. Evidently there is so much of light out here, the light of knowledge, yet there is so much of darkness outside. My question is, is this terror purely money and business oriented or is conflict of civilization?

Answer (Gurumurthy): See, it is a mix of both. The war on terror is as bad, as Dr. Madani said, Jihad itself. And there is a mix up of so many things – geo-politics, money, economic interests, personal prejudices and so you are absolutely right there is a civilizational dimension as well as political and economic dimension. But, the more important thing which I tried to emphasize, may be in a lighter vein I distinguished, how some religions have been able to avoid this kind of situation in which the monotheistic faith have landed themselves.

See single god religions have to be more careful. A multi-god religion like Hindu religion, you know, we made peace between gods, got them married or whatever and ensured that gods lived in peace. The monotheistic faith have allowed their gods to clash. It is purely failure of interpretation according to me. No god can clash with other gods. He can only try to see my flock is retained with myself.

So I think there is a tremendous failure of religious failure in monotheistic faith and more in Islam and to that extent I agree with my fellow panelist Irshad Manji that there is a failure of leadership and what requires, and I wouldn’t exactly use the word ‘reformed’ because it is not a very good word in these days because economic reforms have thoroughly failed, and so I would like to use the word ‘introspection’ instead of reform. Every religion needs introspection. Every segment of a religion needs introspection and every leader and faithful needs introspection.

Maulana Mahmood Madani: Me is bare mein kehna chahonga ki Guruji ne jo bat kahi hai who, partially me use agree karta hoon, ki yakinan apna muhasba hame khud karna chahiye aur sab mazab walon ko iske bare me dekhna chahiye, karna chahiye aur kiya bi jata raha hai, lekin reinterpretation ka jo issue hai, who bhi bilkul hona chahiye. Usse bhi mein agree karta hoon ki reinterpretation bhi hona chahiye, lekin mein isse agree nahi karta hoon ki reinterpretation kaun karega. Yahan par masla khada ho jayega ki reinterpretation kaun karega. Hamare yahan bahut sare legal problem aati hain to uske bare mein legal opinion li jati hain, Soli Sorabji ko pucha jaata hain – Mehmood Madani ko koyi nahin puchta uske bare mein na. Nahin puchta na? Kay Sanjay Dutt election lad sakte hai ya nahi lad sakte, mujhse nahin pucha jata hai. To baat yeh hai ki jo logon ki jo field hai, us field ke logon ko usmein kaam karna chahiye aur jaroor karna chahiye.

M.J. Akbar: Just one point. The three major monotheistic faiths – Christianity or Judaism, Christianity and Islam have one thing in common, they have the same God.

Question: You know I was wondering listening to all of you, what would be the final aim of, if I may say, the top management of terrorism? The people down, they use perhaps religion to make good people into terrorist, so they feel that alright if you do this you will go to heaven so people at the lower rungs what they do I can understand, but the real managers or the management of terrorism, what do they want and do they think they will succeed? Bombay saw about two hundred people dead, the papers mentioned that they were aiming at five thousand people to be there. Even if that had happened and what then, but if that happened do you think the terrorist would have earned whatever was ruling of a nation or capturing of a nation? What is it that the terrorist wanted?

Answer (Gurumurthy): For the terrorist, terror is an advertisement, it is a public relation campaign, it is a motivational exercise. This is where Bush went wrong. He made terrorist larger than they are, more powerful than they are, more motivated than they are. The hatred against Bush transformed into motivation for terror. We should never handle terror that way. The most important way of handling terror is for people here who accrue higher positions in the society to understand that you cannot tackle terror purely by modernity. Modernity is one of the targets of terror.

So we must understand the actual ground level reality and try to think of it. Actually, I find layers and layers of differences. So my feeling is a very powerful sustained dialogue is needed. And I found, probably Maulana Madani is one of the most important personalities of “Orthodox Islam”. But I don’t find any difficulty in talking to him. Both of us understand religion. Only those who understand religion, religious sentiments, can have the dialogue. We must promote dialogue between religions – honest dialogue, sincere dialogue, not false dialogue that all religions are same. They are not same.

All religions have the same goal – they don’t have the same goal. They don’t have the same methods. But all religions must learn to live together is the principle. That is the only way by which we can get over this menace, I entirely agree with Doctor sahab that we are promoting terrorists when we club them with Islam. But I would certainly say that Islamic scholars like him must come out and clarify that non believers in Islam do not mean Kafirs. Generally non-believer is a Kafir.

You ask a Hindu, he will say a Christian according to him is a believer; a Muslim according to him is a believer, only the person who doesn’t believe in any religion, a Hindu will consider him a non-believer. But a non-believer in Islam is considered to be a ‘non-believer’, then the problem arises. That is what I told him before we came here and that is my appeal to him. If this concept is accepted all the space which the terrorist want to occupy is denied to them.

M.J. Akbar: ‘Lakun De Nakun Velyadin” – very important and basic principle of the Koran, your religion for you and my religion for me. As simple. That is the best definition of secularism. We don’t impose upon each other. May I just in answer to that have one sentence? One of the purposes of top management, that was really a very good question, is to destroy alternative models of society through chaos with your inability to defend yourself. So each time it is a major test.

Question (Mohini): My question is to Madani Sahab. Religion is a personal affair. It is my personal relationship with my god. That is it. Why should any Mullah or any Sankaracharya or the Akal Takht or the Pope in Rome tell me what sort of relationship I should have with my God? Apne kaha ki kisi religious leader to precepts lay down karne hain. I don’t accept that. Can you convince me?

Answer (Madani): Dekhiye baat yeh hain ki, yeh baat bilkul sahi hai ki kisi ko, kisi ke saath zabardasti karne ka koi hak nahin hain. Lekin jab ham ek society mein rahte hain to hamari ek us society ko jo hum munasib samajhte hain – hamse sawal kiya jar aha hein ki ye Jihad ho raha hain, ab Jihad ke bare me bataye ki kya hai yeh. Yeh Jihad hai? Hum kehte hain Jihad nahin hain yeh fasad hain. Kehte hain na! Aur usko log pasand bhi karte hain, kyonki woh zarorat hai, woh zarorat hai is waqt ki hame kehne hai, ladna hain un logon se joh Jihad ke naam par fasad faila rahain hain. Asi hi doosere issues par bhi, jisko sahi lage maan lo, nahi sahi lage mat maano. Zabardasti toh kuch hein nahin isme. To joh bhi mazhab ho, jaise kal Dalai Lama Sahab the, woh compassion ki baat karte theh, love ki baat karte theh, aur bahut sari baatein unhon-ne kari. Kisi ko achcha lagega bilkul manega, kisi ko achcha nahin lagega to woh apne dil mein hate leke baithega – ki hame hate hain aur hate mein hi rahna hai.

To hain bhi hate wale log duniya mein. Yeh apni apni choice kit baat hain. Hum to bata sakte hain ki duniya ko modernization ki tarafh is taraf lejane wale log bahut bada challenge ban ke hain. Hamari civil society break ho rahi hain, tuth rahi hain. Hamara joh Hindi mein kehte hain, English zaban mein to culture kahte hain, Urdu mein hum log tehzeeb kahte hain. Hamari tehzeeb khatre mein hein. Tehzeeb alag cheez hai, mazhab alag cheez hai. Mazhab bilkul alag cheez hai – woh individual matter hain, bilkul sahi. Lekin hamari ek tehzeeb hai, hamari ek society hain, India ki bhi apni ek tehzeeb hai – sanskriti, hamari sanskriti joh hain, hame usko bachana hai. Hum modern ho jayen, bilkul ho jayen – apne kapdon se, apne khane pene se, lekin vichar se hamen modern nahin hona chahiye. Vichar hamara wahi rahna chahiye jo hamari sanskriti ne hame diya hain. Yeh ek khayal hai, aapko nahin achcha lagta nahin maniyein.

Question (Mohini): Aap keh rehe the ki jo interpretation hain religion ka woh kisi Maulvi se, ya Akal Takht se aana chahiye.

Answer: Meine Maulvi se nahin kaha. Dekhiye, har cheez ka ek field hai. Us field ka joh specialist ho usise aap karaiye. Jho aadmi jis field ke baare me jaanta nahin, mein Indian Penal Code ke baare mein nahi jaanta, kuch pada nahin uske baare mein, meri who field nahin hai, to mujhse uske baare mein koyi bhi nahi poochtha. Lekin dharam ke baare mein sab log sab se poochne lagte hain aur sab bolne lagte hain. Yeh problem aa jaati isme thodi se.

Question: I’am Anuradha from the SRM University. When a child is born, you know, the child is neither a Hindu or a Christian the child just takes the religion that the family follows. Later the child also has a choice to convert into the religion the child likes. What is the significance of religion? How important are these interpretations to them? Will our children become the victims of religion because we are not agreeing on a common understanding of what religion means to us.

Answer (Irshd Manji): If I may try to answer that very profound question and it is deep. Something else that is deep today in this modern world is the sense of meaninglessness. You know, we live in an age as everybody knows, of globalization and this relatively free movement of capital, of goods, of people, even of jobs what few exist now, but what it suggests is that people are thrown into chaos of their own. And so many people around the world don’t quite know who they are.

And so in a time of such aggressive fluidity it is easy for religion to become calcified to be source of absolutes and for people to cling and to be able to say through this I know who I am.

The problem with that notion of who I am is that it is actually not about who you are at all, it is about what you are. Identity is only about what you are. It is constructive, often in relation to the other – integrity, which is not identity. Integrity is much more complex. It takes into account your particular values, your personal narrative, your authentic journey in this world.

That I believe is one of the great transitions that we have both the opportunity and the challenge to make through our children, you know, in the years coming is that transition from identity into integrity and what are we teaching our children about integrity. If anything, do we even use that word in our own languages? Do we even understand that concept of homeness.

Because it allows us to be many contradictory things at once, whereas identity allows you to be only one thing at once and that reduces you as a multi-faceted human being to something far less than you actually are. And I wanted to springboard after that idea to quickly address the Gentleman’s question about – what is it that the terrorist want? I know sir, I remember very clearly that you were asking about the top tier management. But my constituency is a relatively a young one. In the people from whom I hear around the world are in their teens, in their twenties and in their thirties and many young fundamentalist actually do e-mail me, usually to berate me, but then I, you know, engage in conversation and I come to learn some of the insights about how they got to be where they are.

I must tell you I am amazed that this not reported in the media. But I hear this over and over again from young radicalized Muslims in the West that they are not just fighting, what so many people say is the racism of their society – that is easy, that is a lazy answer, what they tell me is that they are also actually fighting what they call the tribalism within their own, Pakistani in many cases, I am thinking of the U.K. in particular or Bangladeshi communities in particular, where their elders are saying to them this is who you are – which is really to say what you really are, this who you are, this is where you belong, this is what you believe. No questions allowed. End of story.

And you know what, in this world of free movement of information these kids are not to be infantilized that way. Do we really think that they are that stupid? Do we not realize that they are making decisions every single day as they navigate information and misinformation on the Internet. They feel utterly humiliated by their own and not just by their so-called outside oppressors. And so that makes them extremely vulnerable to anybody who preaches to them. And that is the power of religion.

Akbar: Thank you very much. Must compliment India Today for putting together such an erudite panel. Just by way of observation that is not a question, nothing official about it, for that I get plenty of opportunity otherwise, M.J. you talked about the two nation theory and very rightly said that what the two nations truly exist, that is a matter of fact, matter of history. But as regards the theory itself, let me tell you that this is still the feeling in Pakistan – that this is the glue which keeps the people of Pakistan together. But, I must also quickly add that this is in no way to suggest that on the average the people in Pakistan do not want good, better relations with India.

That is besides the point. But the fact of the matter is that the two nation theory, you know, sixty plus years ago there was an idea, a realization – the two nations have come to stay, but at the same time as I have said there is a genuine desire on both sides, I believe, to improve relations with each other. So that is about the two nation theory. Maulana Sahab aapne farmayah ki yahan aapko badhi pazerahi milti hai, yahan aapko badhi achi tarah se sunah jaata hain. Mein aapko yakin dilate hoon ki aap Pakistan Tashreef layen, apko wahan bhi isi kisem se aapko haatho haath liya jayega, jis tarah yahan liya jaata hain.

Question (Aroon): I am Aroon uncle, Aroon Chacha. It seems to me that most of terrorism which is happening today is happening in the name of Islam for whatever reason. And it seems to me also that they are also winning this war in terms of hearts and minds. What is it specifically that the Panel would suggest for media, politics, society as a whole, that how do you counter it? I know it is a big large issue, people had said in our conclave that you know, it is poverty, it is discrimination and the war on terror creates its own reaction. But, I think that these are all a minority. How do we fight this war on terror as individual, physically. Theological debates can happen, but in the end we have to deal with this on the ground.

Answer (Madani): Media ke point of view se keh rahan hoon, Islamist terrorist ka labze bandh kardena chahiye, isseh uneh support milit hai. Jihadi kehna bandh kar dena chahiye, agar musalman hain to kaha jaye Muslim terrorist. Islamic na kahen. Islamic keh dene se woh baat wahan chali jaati hain ki ye unko support hain. Unko usseh alag karna hai. Choteh se group mein unko sideline karna hai pure muslim ummah se aur Islamic world se.

Gurumurthy: Islamic scholars should be asked to deny that Hindus are Kafir. Second India is not Darul Harab. This should be unanimous opinion. Not one institution saying it and others denouncing it. This is the only way you can win a theological test with terrorism. See you can never contain it by any other means – secular means, modern means, military means, political means are inadequate. You have to get into the core of what is their claim over Islam. Their claim over Islam is that non-Muslims are non-believers, non-believers are not Muslims. You have to say non-believer means you don’t believe in any religion. The Hindu position should be taken by Islamic scholars; that is the only answer and the entire intellectual establishment should demand it.

Madani: Dekhiye, Muslaman is mulk mein minority hain and minorities hi kafi chalta bhi hai uske hawale bahut sari baaten hoti hain, seedhi bhi or ulti bhi. Mein manta hoon ki musalman is mulk ki second-largest majority hain aur musalman is mulk ka asset hain aur ushe asset banna hai, ushe mayus nahin hone dena hain, hopelessness usme paida nahi hone deni hain, usko mainstream me lana hain.

Yeh joh sawal aata hai baar baar, Musalman is mulk ko Darul Harab manta hai – achcha nahin mante ho to sabit karo, sab log mil karke fatwa do. Isi tarah se kaha jaata hai, ke tum log kafir mante ho isliye problem.

Hum kahten hain hum kafir nahin mante hai isliye problem hai, uske bawajood bhi problem hai problem ke bahut sare sources hain. Please gaddhe me mat dalo, deewar se mat lagao, aise kaam mat karo ki jisse logon mein hamesha yeh baat paeda rahe ki hum to mujrim hain. Terrorism pe humne shuruh kiya aur kafhi kuch kiya to kisi sahab ne mujhe kaha ki pahle fatwa lao tab manenge. To hum fatwa le Aaye. Ab kahene lage ki Darul Aman mano aur iska fatwa do. Woh fatwa bhi leaye. To ab sabh log mil kar ke kehane ke baad aur bhi kayi sawal khade ho gaye, log karte rahenge.

Irshad Manji: I haven’t had a chance to answer that question. Very briefly, we talk about you know ensuring that various schools of Islamic thought can agree that Hindus are not Kafirs or infidels of any kind. This again inculcates the Islamic interfaith blessing for marriage the one that is translated into Hindi actually makes the case for why the Hindus are believers in a way that Muslims can accept, so for those of you who are interested there are some copies for you.

Aroon chacha you asked and again I am taking you literally, you asked what is it that individuals can do because we are talking big pictures concepts here, what is it that you can do?

For clarity’s sake

10 11 2008
10 Nov 2008, 0050 hrs IST, ARIF MOHAMMED KHAN

Source: TOI
The announcement by Jamiat Ulama-e- Hind to issue a new declaration against terrorism signed by around 6,000 muftis at its conference at Hyderabad is a welcome decision. Still more important and ambitious is its proposed plan to redefine ‘jihad’ so as to enjoin the terrorists from hijacking Islam by misquoting the Quran.

Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind is a religio-political organisation of Indian Muslim clerics formed in 1919 in the wake of the pan-Islamic Khilafat movement. Initially Jamiat consisted of Muslim scholars drawn from all over the country but later it came to be dominated mainly by Deoband clerics.

The Jamiat had rallied around Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress during the freedom movement and opposed the creation of Pakistan. But there was a sizeable group of the Deoband ulema like Mau-lana Ashraf Ali Thanvi who did not endorse the politics of the Jamiat. The differences led to split and a parallel organisation headed by Mufti Shabbir Usmani was established in 1946 that actively supported the Muslim League and the demand for a separate state of Pakistan.

The Jamiat described participation in freedom movement a religious duty and not a national obligation asserting that “religious freedom was more important than political emancipation”. So much so that it claimed that its flag was a “replica of the flag carried by the Prophet and his companions”. It exhorted Muslims to support the Khilafat movement as a religious duty, to boycott foreign goods as enjoined by the sharia and to fight the British as ordained by God.

It was this practice of invoking religion in every affair that irked Maulana Azad to say “the effect which the words ‘nation’ and ‘motherland’ have on the rest of the world is produced on the Muslims by the words God or Islam. You can stir the hearts of thousands simply with one word — nation — but in the case of Muslims the only comparable word for the purpose is God or Islam”.

There is no doubt that the Jamiat had adopted a nationalistic stance on the questions of Indian freedom and common nationality. But the demands it has been pressing from time to time also deserve an objective assessment as to its impact on the Indian polity.

I would like to draw attention to one of its resolution adopted in the 1939 session to protest against the Wardha scheme of education. The Jamiat censured the new scheme as anti-Islamic and said, “The Wardha scheme emphasises the philosophy of non-violence, and presents it as a creed. We have accepted non-violence only as a policy. This cannot be accepted as a creed. This is against the teaching of the Quran which encourages the Muslims to jihad.”

It is clear from the wording of the resolution that the Jamiat believes that the concept of jihad runs counter to the principle of non-violence. But, it has been contested by several Islamic scholars who insist that Quranic jihad is only a defensive measure against religious persecution. The resolution referred to is very old but it is part of the Jamiat’s official record and finds mention in several books and academic papers. Unless withdrawn it continues to reflect the ideological position of the Jamiat. It is not difficult to surmise the impact of such resolutions on impressionable minds, which become vulnerable to the exploits of the agents of violence and terror.

The other part of the resolution is even more shocking where it says “the danger of the Wardha scheme is that children will be indoctrinated in such a way that not only would they be friendly to other religious groups, but they would also consider every religion of the world a true religion. This belief is un-Islamic”.

The claim made by the Jamiat resolution defies any explanation. They are great scholars but even a layman can see that the Quran has more than 10 verses in which it enjoins the faithful “to believe in all the Prophets and make no distinction among them”. The exercise to redefine jihad will require withdrawal of all such resolutions to make it clear that jihad is no licence to indulge in violence.

The writer is a former Union minister.