New Delhi: At the drop of a hat, the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) have removed the books of two internationally acclaimed Islamic thinkers and authors Syed Abul Ala Maududi and Syed Qutub Shahid from their curriculum of Islamic Studies after a group of 25 academics with purportedly Hindutva backgrounds wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.
Interestingly, none of the signatories of the letter has ever read any book of both the authors who sought a ban on their teaching in the abovetwo central universities established by Muslims and privately-run Jamia Hamdard.
The authors of the two Islamic scholars’ texts, according to the signatories, “encourage violence and terrorism.” However, they have not cited even a single passage that encourages or supports violence in the works of the two authors. Syed Qutub was an Egyptian Islamic scholar, and Maududi was born in India before moving to Pakistan in 1947 when the country was divided. Both were contemporaneous and had an impact on how Muslims of their own generation felt about Islam, and their writings still have an impact on Muslims around the world today.
The “open letter to PM Modi” dated July 27, 2022, has similar accusations. On social media, this letter has also gone viral. The letter was signed by 25 academics, most of whom are from India and some from other countries. In the letter, these academics said that this concept and in particular Maulana Maududi’s political beliefs constitute a grave threat to national security.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Ismail, Chairman, and Professor of the Department of Islamic Studies, confirmed that AMU had removed Maududi and Syed Qutub from its curriculum. He decided the vice-chancellor of the university, Prof. Tariq Mansoor’s, instruction, he added.
However, Prof. Ismail defended the ideas of Maulana Maududi and Syed Qutub by stating that the two Islamic scholars were covered in the AMU Islamic studies curriculum and that university students read their works.
He claimed that both of them have harshly opposed monarchy and dynastic control in their writings, contending that both systems of government are in opposition to the ethical precepts of Islam. Prof. Ismail noted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had banned all of Maulana Maududi’s writings for this reason.
In response to the letter written to PM Modi, he made the snide remark, “However, no one who read their books became a terrorist.” Important publications by Maulana Maududi, his ideas, the key ideas in his tafsir (exegesis) of the Quran, Tafheemul Quran (Towards Understanding the Quran), and the idea of the Islamic State were all covered in the course programme. A book that was recommended for reading was The Milestone by Syed Qutub.
In reference to the letter written to the PM, Prof. Ismail claimed that not even one offensive word or paragraph from the works of Maududi or Syed Qutub was referenced in the letter.
In a video shared on social media, Prof. Obaidullah Fahad, who is also a teacher in AMU’s Islamic Studies department, claimed that “the Western world has launched a vilification campaign against Maulana Maududi because Maududi’s voice is the strongest in the Muslim world against Western colonization.”
“For the past 50 years, I have been reading Maulana Maududi. Throughout my academic career, I have taught about his works and have also overseenseveral research projects on them, but I have yet to come across even one word in his writings that advocates for terrorism, violence, or other illegal activity,” said Prof. Fahad.
He added that “During the rule of Army dictator Ayub Khan in Pakistan, he gave orders to his cadres not to use force or engage in illegal activities against the government.
Following AMU’s lead, the Jamia also removed Maulana Maududi and Syed Qutb from its curriculum and its library as soon as the letter went viral on social media.
On condition of anonymity, a senior Jamia official confirmed that the institution had not yet received any instructions from the Prime Minister’s Office, Education Ministry, or University Grants Commission to remove Maulana Maududi and Syed Qutub from the Islamic Studies curriculum.
The Jamia syllabus does not include any required or elective coursework on Syed Qutub or Maulana Maududi. Only some of the themes have been advised to be read in their books. The freedom to read books by other authors on the same subject is extended to the students, he said. Deeniyat (Islamic Religious Beliefs) and Tafheemul Quran are the only works by Maulana Maududi listed in the reference section of the course syllabus (Towards Understanding Quran).
Universities are hubs of knowledge where various philosophies are taught to students. Students must learn about other viewpoints to challenge and oppose those viewpoints and ideas. The official questioned how pupils could learn about significant ideas if they weren’t taught about them or weren’t even permitted to examine them.
A Jamia source questioned the authors of the letter to the PM’s locus of authority. “Do they believe that people in charge of the Jamia are ignorant of what is best or worse for the nation?
According to the letter’s content, which was reported by the media, it appears they are not interested in education but rather have other goals, the source said. He said, “Should we adjust the curriculum in response to any Tom, Dick, and Harry’s requests?” He added that all major world faiths are included in Jamia’s Islamic Studies programme.
The AMU library has removed more than 100 volumes by Maulana Maududi and 40 books by Syed Qutub. Syed Qutub was an Egyptian Islamic scholar, whereas Maududi was an Indian citizen who moved to Pakistan in 1947 when that country was divided. Both lived at the same time.
There were only five signatories who could be reached by phone out of the 25 (three of whom were located abroad). Readers may be startled to learn that none of the five directly acknowledged
writing the letter, nor did any of them acknowledge reading Maulana Maududi at all. then, who wrote the letter? And on what grounds did the authors and signatories make serious and unfounded accusations against a social movement like Jamaat Islami Hind, which has a unique reputation in academic and intellectual circles for standing up for justice and working to bring about inter-communal harmony in the nation?
The telephonic conversation with them suggested that the letter was created by a think group that focuses on Islamophobia globally and that the signatories had made a deceptive claim about presenting evidence for unfounded accusations.
Prof. Anand Kumar, a National Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, is one of the signatories. Despite making every effort to defend the letter’s contents, another signatory Prof. Bharat Gupta, a retired professor from Delhi University’s English Department, unequivocally stated that he had not read any of Maududi’s publications. I’d rather not comment further.