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New Turn in Jamiat Crisis

April 10, 2008 by  


By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS

NEW DELHI – It is finally official, with the long-brewing feud within one of the most influential Muslim organizations in country, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) formally announced last week (April 5). The central managing committee (CMC) of JUH, including hundreds of representatives from its 14 state units held an emergency meeting, during which Qari Mohammad Usman was elected as JUH president and Maulana Mahmood Madani as its general secretary.

A leading Islamic organization, founded in 1919, JUH has played a great part in the country’s struggle for independence.

JUH has 17 state units across the country, with the Saturday’s meeting not attended by the ones representing Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Of the 14 units, while two remained neutral, 12 voted in favor of Usman and Mahmood. The CMC also dismissed Maulana Arshad Madani, who was earlier the JUH president, and his supporters from primary membership of the organization. The proceedings, including the expulsion and the new election, were conducted in presence of two observers Justice (retired) Nasimuddin Siddiqui and Safdar Hussain Khan, who is India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) general manager.

The CMC, known as the highest-decision making body of JUH also passed several resolutions, one of which stated: “Maulana Arshad Madani was involved in anti-Jamiat activities. He had dissolved elected units and disintegrated its democratic structure to establish personal rule.”

Though the feud between the two Madanis had been brewing for some time, it reached a critical stage about a month ago. The conflict had begun following the death of Maulana Asad Madani in February 2006, who had been the JUH president. While some JUH leaders wanted Asad to be succeeded by his son Mahmood, the organization elders favored his brother Arshad, who took over as the president. Power struggle within JUH, however, continued between the two-sections, one of Arshad and other of Mahmood. The JUH working committee passed a no-confidence motion against Arshad and appointed Qari Usman as the caretaker president last month (March 6). Describing his own dismissal as illegal, subsequently, Arshad announced suspension of Mahmood and his six supporters from the working committee. Arshad also announced formation of a new working committee, in which Mahmood and his supporters were not included. Not to be left behind, Mahmood declared the working committee founded by Arshad as illegal. This also defeated speculations of the rift in the Madani-family being headed for any possible resolution in the near future. A compromise formula was offered by Maulana Marghoobur Rahman, director of Darul Uloom Deoband, who is also a senior member of JUH working committee. Rahman had suggested that a compromise should be reached within the framework of the JUH constitution. If needed, a committee comprising of veteran scholars should be constituted, he had suggested.

Rahman’s formula, however, made no headway with the split being given a formal shape last week. In the drama, Mahmood has emerged as apparent winner. He is also a Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) legislator in Upper House of the Parliament. Of the 35 employees in JUH’s Delhi office, only three have gone along with Arshad.

Over the past month, both Arshad and Mahmood have blamed each other for undermining JUH’s constitution. Holding his uncle’s “dictatorial” style of functioning as responsible for the JUH-crisis, Mahmood said: “Maulana Arshad Madni has run the organization like a dictator ever since he took over reins after my father Maulana Asad Madani’s death. The working committee was not happy with his style of functioning and therefore it elected a new president (Qari Mohammed Usman of Darul Uloom Deoband).”

Asserting that he never had any intention to dethrone his uncle, Mahmood said: “I am not interested in any post in the organization though I will always be its worker. Let them make me a chowkidar (watchman) in the organization and I will readily accept it.” In the interest of the organization, Mahmood even handed in his resignation as its general secretary on March 20. This move of Mahmood also apparently failed to resolve the JUH crisis, compelling the CMC to finally step in.

Refusing to accept that the majority of CMC was against him, Arshad had earlier said: “The majority of the working committee members are with me. Mahmood Madani is misguiding people and the media when he claims that I have lost confidence of the majority.”

There is a view that the uncle-nephew feud over their power in JUH may continue for some time in the courts. Arshad intends to move the court against the Saturday’s meeting, which he has described as “illegal.” Mahmood has moved the Lucknow court against his uncle’s “unlawful control” of JUH.

With numbers in Mahmood’s favor, it is also held that Arshad may not be able to give him much of a fight, which has already been significantly proved at the Saturday’s meeting.

During its meeting, the CMC also passed several resolutions affirming its stand against terrorism and expressing concern regarding the situation in Palestine and Iraq. Refuting the trend to easily link Islam with terrorism, Mahmood said: “Those indulging in the acts of terrorism have got nothing to do with Islam, which teaches amity, brotherhood and fraternity. Unfortunately, there are always attempts to paint Islam in a bad color by some vested interests.”

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