Dr Faiyaz Ahmad Fyzie
Recently, speaking at a conference in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh Maulana Syed Arshad Madani called for opening separate schools and colleges for Muslim girls and women. He made this comment following the controversy over the ban on the use of hijab in schools and colleges imposed by the since-ousted government in Karnataka. He said the hijab controversy was a conspiracy against Muslim women and suggested the segregation of Muslim women so that they do not mix with boys and girls of other religions.
Such a demand coming from the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind (Arshad Madani faction) is not new. A few months ago, at a Conference of his group at the Azad Maidan in Mumbai, Maulana Arshad Madani demanded separate schools and colleges for Muslim boys and girls.
People like Arshad Madani tend to project themselves as representatives of Muslim society while making such demands before the government and society. Muslims have to think if groups like Jamiatul Ulema and people like Maulana Syed Arshad Madani represent all of them.
Jamiatul Ulema as an organisation lacks inner democracy and social justice. The participation of OBC, SC, and ST communities who follow Islam – and constitute about 90 percent of the Muslim population – and are known as indigenous Pasmanda society, in the organisation is negligible.
Also, Jamaitul Ulema is not a democratic organization; it lacks inner democracy in the appointment of its office bearers and other officials. Only people from certain families are appointed to senior positions in the organization.
Maulana Arshad Madani
How can such an organization have the compunction to present anything on behalf demand on behalf of all Muslims?
It is a fact and has often been seen that such things done on a communal basis harm the Muslim society in general and the indigenous Pasmanda Muslims the most.
Maulana Arshad Madani’s demand is tinged with communalism; something akin to Sir Syed Ahmad’s demand for a separate electorate and Muhammad Ali Jinnah's for Pakistan. This can only give a setback to the communal equations and hurt social harmony.
Also, it could lead to a counteraction for exclusive schools and institutions on a communal basis.
Separate schools for Muslims – girls or boys – would make the students captives of the system and converting them into religious fundamentalists would become easier. Therefore, this demand is not only unconstitutional, immoral, and against the Indian tradition and not in the interests of Muslims. This should not be accepted under any circumstances.
What if a similar demand comes from other religions like Hindu, Sikh, etc.? Would this be appropriate for a country like India where people with diverse religious beliefs reside? Therefore, opposing the separatist demand of schools and colleges based on religious identity is in the interest of the country and society.
(The author is a writer, Pasmanda Activist and Doctor by profession. The article is based on his personal views)