Tuesday December 06, 2022

Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind turns 100 today

November 19, 2019

LAHORE: The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, the parent organisation of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman Group) will be 100 years old on Tuesday (today) by the Georgian calendar.

Interestingly, instead of celebrating its 100th anniversary on November 19, 2019 (today), the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind had held its centenary celebrations during April 2017, saying the festivity was based on the Islamic or Hijri calendar, and not based on the Georgian calendar.

It had contended it was founded in Hijri year 1338 or 1919 of the Georgian calendar during the British rule and hence it was turning 100 years old in 1438, which had fallen in 2017! The Islamic, Muslim or Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days.In Pakistan, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman Group) had organised the centenary celebrations at Azakhel in Nowshera City from April 7 to 9, 2017.

Having over 1.6 million members, this Sunni Deobandi organisation, called the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, was founded by various religious clerics, including the likes of Mufti Kifayatullah Dehlawi, Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, Syed Hussain Ahmed Madni, Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Maulana Mahmood Hassan, Maulana Bashir Ahmad Bhatta, Mufti Muhammad Naeem Ludhianvi, Maulana Abdul Haleem Siddiqui, Abdul Haq Akorwi, Maulana Noor u Din Bihari, Ahmed Ali Lahori, Ahmed Saeed Dehlvi and Abdul Bari Firangi Mehli etc.

The aim of these eminent religious scholars was to take on the British rulers head on. The organisation’s involvement in the 1917 “Khilafat Movement” brought them close to Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress, a link that is existent to this day.

Leading Congress leader Abul Kalam Azad, himself a product of the Islamic seminary, was the president of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind in 1948. Others like Saifuddin Kitchlu and Maulana Mohammad Ali Johar were also closely associated with the Jamiat.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind draws its roots from the work of 18th Century saint Shah Waliullah of Delhi (1703-1762) who started pushing Indians to shake off the yoke of imperialism. From roughly 1808 to 1915, ulema or religious scholars battled the British. Shah Waliullah’s son Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi issued an edict, saying that their country had been “enslaved” and they would struggle for independence.

David Emmanuel Singh, a researcher into Islamic Studies with the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, had written: “The 1857 ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ had led to the death of over 50,000 ‘Ulama’. In Delhi alone, nearly 500 of them were hanged. The ulema, known popularly as the maulvis, became synonymous with the term ‘rebel’.”

This was the time when seminaries or madrassas were needed to keep the Deoband legacy of Shah Waliullah alive.

And so, in 1866, Shah Waliullah’s disciples Maulana Qasim Nanatawi, Maulana Fazlur Rahman Usmani and Haji Muhammad Abid of Deoband, had opened “Dar al-Uloom” in Deoband, a small town about a six-hour drive from Delhi. It was a simple open-air mosque at the time and its first student was Mahmud al-Hasan. He went on to become known as “Shaikh al-Hind” (leader of India) for leading the resistance against British rule. \Research further shows that in 2013, Maulana Fazlur Rehman had visited the town of Deoband in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. He had served as the leader of the Opposition in National Assembly of Pakistan from 2004 to 2007.

Research shows that Mufti Kifayatullah Dehlawi was the first elected president of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, having served from 1919 to 1938.

The office of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind is located at 1, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi. It was Maulana Abdul Bari of this organisation who had given the title of “Mahatma” to Gandhi in 1920.

One of the Jamiat’s pro-Pakistan leaders, Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, had laid the foundation stone of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) in 1945, after splitting away from the Jamiat Ulema-e- Hind in 1937. Maulana Mufti Mehmood, Fazlur Rehman’s father, had assumed this organisation’s leadership in 1962. Under Mufti Mahmood during the 1960s, the party had developed a strong presence and base of support in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (called NWFP then).

During the 1970 polls, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam had won seven seats in the National Assembly and nine in the provincial assemblies in an alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami, and became a partner in the NWFP and Balochistan provincial governments. Mufti Mehmood was sworn in as NWFP chief minister.