Darul Uloom rector Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi faced a violent uprising on returning to campus, prompting him to make an offer to quit on Monday over allegations that he had praised Gujarat’s chief minister, Narendra Modi.
“I would quit if the shoora (governing council) asks me to,” said Vastanvi, a Gujarati cleric appointed rector after the death of Darul’s 96-year-old spiritual patriarch, Marghubur Rahman, last month. He said the expelled students would be re-admitted.
On Sunday evening, as the rector was on his way to his office, students yelled at him and put up a blockade, as clashes broke out. One injured student had to be admitted to a hospital, Darul official Moinuddin Qasimi said.
The rector of Darul Uloom — the seat of Sunni Islam in Uttar Pradesh’s Deoband — is considered reverential. For guidance, Sunni Muslims worldwide turn to either Egypt’s Al-Azhar University or India’s Darul Uloom.
In an interview to HT on Friday, Vastanvi denied praising Modi. Modi is often blamed for not preventing the 2002 rioting that killed 800-odd Muslims, but investigations so far have found no proof of his culpability.
Vastanvi, the first person from outside UP to be elected Darul’s rector, was seen as holding the potential to bring a generational change in the conservative outlook of one of the world’s key Islamic institutions. Such expectations may be misplaced.
Vastanvi — sensing the pitfalls — said Darul’s century-old learning system is “perfect” and should remain “intact”.
Darul Uloom in western UP’s Deoband wields considerable influence over India’s majority Sunnis, who account for over 90% of the country’s more than 130 million Muslims.