In a way, what happens in Darul Uloom Deoband, is the business of Darul Uloom Deoband. Who are we to meddle in its internal affairs? But whether it’s this famous Islamic theological institution or the Padmanabhaswamy Temple or the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, surely we can make some comments that won’t offend anyone. Like our comment about it being unfortunate that former vice-chancellor of the institution Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi being forced out of the job for reportedly giving “a clean chit” to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in January. Mr Vastanvi, in our opinion, was a moderate who was taking the Darul Uloom forward in a direction more in sync with 2011 India. This didn’t mean that he was not ‘Islamic’ enough. Quite the contrary. His vice-chancellorship showed that a man with an MBA degree, a pragmatist, could also be a fundamentalist — by which one means someone who sticks to the fundamentals of a religion.
So what was so incredible about Mr Vastanvi’s comment that triggered the great heave that resulted in his removal? The man had stated that it was time for the Muslims to move on from the horrors of the 2002 Gujarat riots and that there wasn’t as much things that Muslims needed to worry about in Gujarat as projected. This is hardly giving a ‘clean chit’ to the Modi government for its failings in 2002. It is more of a practical advice and dipstick judgement of how things are in the real world today. If
Mr Vastanvi is wrong, those Muslims who stayed back in Gujarat are either wrong or delusional. The problem, as always, lies in internal politics. Most of the members of the Darul’s shoora opposed to Mr Vastanvi are from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, the residing ‘Muslim’ voice in Indian socio-politics. The ex-Darul vice-chancellor being an ‘outsider’ — he’s not even a Darul alumnus — was always a problem. So when his ‘Gujarat’ remark, turned into a ‘Narendra Modi’ remark, came about, it was easy picking. But what would we know? We’re outsiders watching a man being yanked out for supposed treachery.