[Jamia Millia Islamia students celebrating after receiving their degrees. (Photo: Jamia Millia Islamia website)]
Jamia Millia Islamia today is a name of nostalgic memories of many tall leaders of Indian Freedom Struggle in the last century. Leader like Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Maulana Mehmood-ul-Hasan, Abdul Majeed Khwaja and many others are unforgettable in many ways. These personalities who were known for their personal sacrifices towards India’s attainment of freedom from a foreign rule were, remarkably, also very ‘Saintly’ or ‘religious’ personalities as the recorded events of their lives and letter available show us.
None of them can said to have been a leader exclusively for the Muslim community alone, as many among the Muslim community may be in perception about them today. Over the years these figures have also become, some during their lifetime itself, the makers and shapers of educational awakening among the Muslim monitories of free India.
There may not be disagreement to such a narrative so far. But what is to be told in next paragraphs here seems not being voiced loudly, although it is consented widely and privately; and it is not for a commercial personal gain that it is to be told.
Many of those remembered makers of educational movements can be said to have had longings for a true character of Qur’an and Islam being projected from the classrooms of the institutions they founded (given the widespread communal misunderstandings in the subcontinent under the British rule). The great institutions they laid the foundations of, have however been ‘corrupted’ today in ways their founders themselves would disapprove of. And that, in the opinion of this person, amounts to distraction from the vision, mission and key motives of the establishment of such institutions.
Avoidance of faith-based conflict as a meaning of ‘secularization’ would doubtlessly be dearer and affectionate to the founding fathers of these institutions (for that is what Islam advocated much before the Europe and the Western nations). But the secular that negates, discards or reduces the role of Islam in community’s identity and advancements would hardly be approved or find a sincere place anywhere. But it is this latter meaning of ‘secular’, the ‘modern’ and ‘modernity’ that is apparently now being applied vastly in the matters of universities like Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Hamdard.
Surely, there has existed within these Universities a groan to resist what is worthy of greater condemnation: the subtle or unnoticed attacks on Qur’an, the prophet and the unjust description of Muslim identity within the research centers and departments of these universities, be that by those teaching there or visiting there under the guise of academic purposes. Much of such developments have however be likely going covered under the lures of patriotic valorization of Muslim sacrifices in India’s freedom struggle for years.
Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University may have especially and increasingly become victims of political gain-seeking as Muslim votes have gained greater importance by each passing election. Since the constitutional and minority statuses of these institutions have been debatable for various political parties, the deviant forms of political gupshup were perhaps quick to render these places of learning as ‘hotspots to hack Muslim identity’.
The destructive and evil planners who dislike these universities’ minority character or hate the reputation of some of their departments and intent to detach the closer association between them and their contribution to India’s ties with Arab world have been at work 24x7 for last many decades. The contribution of these universities to academics and larger welfare in the plains of river Ganga-Yemuna plains have however been a hindrance and silencing force to repel such evil spells. But how long might this go on like a universal constant, in balancing equations?
Sadly, of late, it is observed the campuses of Jamia Millia Islamia and surrounding Muslim localities have virtually become active zones for misleading programs that seek to divide Muslim community by fondling community’s larger doctrinal unawareness on issues like Talaq, position of women and inheritance rights, West Asian minorities, cow-slaughter in comparable traditions etc. The gloomy shadows of confusing, at times controversial and at times misleading activities disguised as ‘academics’ are perhaps hindering to finer working of administrative reason itself at Jamia (and AMU too). Or worse still, these may be like an eye cataract that must be cured if these universities are to help us grasp the realities of the changing world correctly.
Have you felt lately that we no longer happen to look for brighter and enlightening sparks from the writings of countless university teachers in a range of matters? I have. Or why do I not expect the university torch bearers to be guiding with their words from across the university hallways? Is it just either of the missing neutrality at times or slumbering lethargy that may be hurting very badly?
Here are some concrete examples from the M.Phil class on Islam and how Islam is being taught in the lectures delivered at this prestigious university, Jamia Millia Islamia:
- A non-Muslim assistant professor, whose one year probation period has recently concluded in 2017, traces origin of Islam from Genesis Chapters 16, 17 and 21 in the Bible!
- She draws a 'triangle' that represents TRINITY many times on classroom board when she's talking of GOD in her class on Islam!
- On founding figures of Religions, she tells the students that Jesus is not the founder of
Christianity. But while talking of Islam she informs that Muhammad is considered the founder of Islam.
- The lost written records of verses penned before Hazrat Hafsa RA’s copy of text of Qur'an was sent far and wide by the Third Caliph are given repeated importance, while Deuterocanonical additions to Catholic Bible are considered virtually irrelevant in establishing credibility of the Bible in the matters of Christian faith!
The pushing blow to write this article came last month. Just between Jan 30–Feb 04, 2017 a seemingly Judeo-Christian missionary course was conducted at GIAN-MHRD expenses at Jamia Millia Islamia’s Centre for Comparative Study of Religions and Civilisations. The course was titled “Religious Minorities in West Asia: A Historical Perspective”, and indeed if it were not a Judeo-Christian missionary activity, it might have done some justice with the contents of the course and would not have been devoted exclusively to Oriental Christian churches of Nestorians and Jacobites, speedily bypassing other minorities like Yezidis!
This week long course, for which the registration was made both mandatory and chargeable by Rs. 1000/- for the regular bonafide students, had been conducted suspending other regular classes and Arabic classes at the centre. Students were logically weary to contribute to it. But their objections that this course was not part of the syllabus and was largely irrelevance to the requirements of the semester were never taken up seriously as a matter of investigation, neither by the coordinator of the course nor the administration. As a reader therefore, one is left to wonder how a doubtful (if not dubious) ‘academic GIAN course’ that the concerned students never demanded, be made both chargeable and mandatory at Jamia Millia Islamia?
This course could have been screen at the very initial stage by the university administration itself as no deeper consultation within the faculty was carried out before it was planned. But seemingly the administration even did not consider the donations that university receives from Muslim donors and the Arab nations, whose historical roots and traditions this course seems to unjustly intervene, plucking and mixing falsehood because of the absence of balancing views. But though all the reasons for an approval for this course may never be known, at least one reason may be deciphered at the outset: the university Vice Chancellor’s assumption of the audience (including himself) as being the ‘children of God’!
Yes, in his inaugural address at this course a sweeping statement was made by otherwise respected Vice Chancellor; and the statement was heard like this: ‘I think this course on religious minorities in West Asia is important BECAUSE I THINK WE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF THAT ONE GOD’! A blunder, you’d say? Or a profanity and slander against God?
Vice Chancellor Prof. Talat Ahmad’s invoking to audience as ‘children of God’ goes distinctly contrary to the idea of God that founders of Jamia Millia Islamia professed, or what Qur’an eternally professes without compromise: ‘Say He, the God, is one. HE BEGETS NOT, NOR WAS HE BEGOTTEN’ (Chapter 112, Qur’an).
One of the reasons for the revelation of Qur’an is said to be ‘to warn those who said God has taken a child’ (Qur’an 18:4). But a busy Vice Chancellor (who just last year has returned from the pilgrimage to Haj on Saudi initiation) perhaps knows that not at Jamia.
Institution of Jamia Millia Islamia was founded in 1920s and has the story of its growth from an Islamic institution of learning in the pre-independence India to today being a central university located in New Delhi. If purity of devotion in service matters, the University is today offering integrated education from nursery to research in specialized areas.
Yet it is not a saga of dedication, conviction and vision of a people without God; for its founders and leaders, the staff members, the attendants, the departments and students – male and female alike – have at times in past worked against all odds created by divisive castes and communal forces, and saw the university growing step by step by the kind favor and mercy from their Lord. That indeed demands being thankful to that one God, ascribing no children to Him and at least refraining from telling about Him what one knows not. Is that a very burdensome expectation to have from a learned person?
In conclusion, it may be reminded that sacrifice of academic neutrality cannot be distantly expected from the Jamia Millia Islamia’s faculty members who are expected to be dignified individuals. Objectivity at a level of fairness to the subject is important and should not be knowingly slaughtered for Judeo-Christian bias to mislead the otherwise harmless students at the University.