Why Madanis Decided To Reunite The Two Factions Of Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind
Arshad Madani and Mehmood Madani have decided to reconcile, to put up a joint fight against anti-Muslim hate.
In an important development, the two factions of India’s oldest Muslim body, the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind have decided to reunite in light of the growing anti-Muslim hate and violence in the country. The two factions are led by Maulana Arshad Madani, and his nephew Maulana Mehmood Madani, and have been part of an ego tussle over leadership for 14 years now. This move then signals the beginning of an attempt to reconcile the longstanding differences between the two factions.
“Seeing the present conditions in the country especially against Muslims...there should be a common platform for the Jamiat to act together and unitedly,” Maulana Arshad Madani had said in the annual JUH conference held earlier in May.
Then on 18 June, the 30-plus member working committee of the Arshad Madani passed a resolution giving full authority to Maulana Arshad Madani to finalise the process of merging of both the factions.
The Mehmood Madani faction followed suit and passed a similar resolution favouring the reunification last week on 22 July.
But despite the earnest attempt at reconciliation, the actual process of merging the two bodies would not be an easy one. The Quint spoke to members and office bearers of both factions to understand how this talk of unification came to be, and what challenges lie ahead.
The JUH has been a body of Muslim religious leaders since pre-independence era and had also vociferously opposed the partition of the country on religious lines. The body ascribes to the Darul Uloom Deoband's school of thought, and has followers in different parts of the country.
After the death of its president Maulana Asad Madani in 2006, his younger brother Arshad Madani assumed charge as the leader.
Internal turmoil ensued over Arshad Madani’s leadership style termed as ‘autocratic’ by late Asad Madani's son and general secretary Mehmood Madani, and his supporters.
“There were functional and organisational issues, we did not approve of the manner in which the organisation was being run,” Maulana Mehmood Madani told The Quint.
This eventually led to the ouster of Arshad Madani in 2008, who then formed his own JUH, calling it the ‘real Jamiat’.
Usman Mansoorpuri was appointed the president of the other faction, however it was largely understood that Mehmood Madani is the decision-maker of the body.
Neither of the two bodies agreed to give up the title of Jamiat, or even adopt a modified version of it in order for there to be a clear distinction between the two. The tussle escalated to such an extent that the two factions even filed cases against each other, fighting to retain the 'Jamiat' title.
But some time in 2015, attempts towards ironing out the differences began, with both sides eventually withdrawing the court cases against each other after the Delhi high court in 2017 directed them to settle their differences and come to an understanding.
Who Initiated The Reunification?
Since 2015, the two bodies had gradually begun interacting with each other more frequently, even attending each other’s events. However, it was an invite extended by the Mehmood Madani faction to Arshad Madani for the body’s annual national conference in Deoband on 28 May this year, that helped seal the deal.
In the annual conference, Arshad Madani hinted towards reunification for the first time publicly.
“I am calling them Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, and they are also calling me Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind. This is an odd and weird thing. Perhaps my presence here, among all of you, will eventually lead to end of this (divide),” Madani said.
The senior Madani’s words were received by a roaring applause from the attendees at the conference.
He then spoke about the need for Muslims to come to a common and united platform given the prevalent Islamophobia.
Speaking to The Quint, Mehmood Madani said that countering anti-Muslim hate is one of the major reasons the two bodies decided to reunite. “But the other important reason is that while both factions have worked independently at helping the society, that work will only get strengthened if we come together. Divisions don’t help anyone,” he said.
The Leadership Question
However, there are still many differences that will have to be worked out before the merging is enacted.
“The issue is not just about two people coming together. The reunification has to happen from bottom-up. There are thousands of members on both sides who will need to feel like one body now, that is the main thing,” Niaz Farooqui, secretary of the JUH told The Quint.
Sources in both sides said that the real hiccup will come when the time to decide the president arrives.
Mehmood Madani, however, said that he is willing to step down from the post of the president.
“I have said I am willing to step down. I have also told all the district presidents (of the Mehmood Madani faction) to step down. But now they (Arshad Madani faction) should also show similar generosity. Because for this to work someone will have to sacrifice,” Madani said.
Thus, despite Mehmood Madani’s ‘offer’ to step down, it is yet to be seen how things play out when push comes to shove.
Questions of Ideology and Politics
There are also issues of ideological differences, which may create in the long-run. At different times, both factions have taken controversial positions—Mehmood Madani welcomed the National Register of Citizens (NRC) initially as well as the abrogation of Article 370. Arshad Madani has praised the RSS and its leader Mohan Bhagwat in the past. However, both bodies have also played an important role in rehabilitating victims of various communal violence, most recently the Delhi riots. Arshad Madani has also been instrumental in ensuring legal aid for those affected by NRC in Assam.
The two have thus taken varied positions on multiple issues, often surprising many in the Muslim community. “It’s true that one never really knows what position either of them will take on any issue at any given time, it’s a product of many thoughts and considerations they have to factor in,” an officer-bearer in the JUH said on condition of anonymity.
With the two factions coming together, the decision-making process is likely to get tougher.
“We will have to ensure that the body, after unification, is run in a democratic manner. Without democracy, unification will only lead to harm, not good,” Mehmood Madani said.
There has also been speculation over whether the JUH will now enter the realm of active politics— one that it has traditionally shied from. In an interview to India TV in May, Mehmood Madani denied the need for Muslims to work as a separate political force like the AIMIM.
“Thought that Muslims should become a separate political force... that thought is not right for the country,” he said on the question of his views on AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi’s politics.
“We have never been a political body, and that won’t change. That is just how we are fundamentally,” Niaz Farooqui told The Quint, reiterating Madani’s sentiments.
Interestingly two Darul Uloom alumni Badruddin Ajmal and Siddiqullah Choudhary are important politicians in Assam and West Bengal respectively and continue to hold sway among Jamiat's rank and file in both states.
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