Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind

Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind is an organization of Muslim religious scholars of India, established in November 1919, when numerous ulama from all parts of India participated in the Khilafat Movement conference in New Delhi. Many of the members were associated with the Darul Ulum of Deoband. The organization came into being when Indians of all religious affiliations were united in the anti-British struggle. When most Muslim leaders participated in the non-cooperation movement with the Indian National Congress, Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind, in contrary, maintained its pro-congress attitude through out the struggle for independence and supported the idea of a united India and opposed the Pakistan movement.

The main contribution of the Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind to Indo-Muslim thought is the theory of “composite nationalism” to counter the “two nations theory” of the Muslim League, which formed the ideological basis of the Pakistan movement. According to the theory of “composite nationalism”, nations can be created by various factors, such as religion, race, homeland, language or color. In modern times, the most important nation-building factor has been the homeland, therefore, the Muslims of India belong to the same nation as other Indians, and India constitutes a nation despite its religious diversity.

The Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind thus accepted the idea of territorial nationalism. To provide with Islamic legitimacy the Ulama used classical Islamic precedent, the covenant of Madinah, in which the prophet agreed to the conclusion of non-Muslims in the same nation with Muslims. The history of Mughal India is also seen as vindicating the composite nationalism theory. The Mughal period knew no communalism; all Indians were treated equally by the rulers. Communalism emerged in India only as a result of British policy.

In order to expel the British from India and to achieve independence, there was the demand that Muslims cooperate with the Indian National Congress. The Ulama envisaged that in an independent and united India achieved with Muslim cooperation, the Muslim would have significant influence, their family, law and religious institutions would be maintained, and governments with a Muslim majority would be established in several provinces. On the basis, they appealed to Muslim not to join the Muslim League.

The Ulama were convinced that the western-educated element in the League’s leadership would never be able or willing to establish an Islamic state compatible with the traditional religious ideal of the Ulama. They held that the creation of Pakistan only worsened the communal problem. Many Muslim would remain in India and live in an atmosphere of hate due to partition. On the other hand, the establishment of a unified India, in which the Muslim would be influential and significant, would benefit not only Muslim in the subcontinent but also Muslims of the world.

In independent India, the Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind acquired increased importance in the new political structure. Shortly after independence, the Ulama called upon Indian Muslims to declare their loyalty to India. Several of the ideas adopted by the Ulama after partition were quite bold from traditional Islam. They accepted the idea of a secular state. They gave qualified support to the idea of a composite India culture. They supported Indian policies even on issues that were sensitive from the Muslim point of view, such as Kashmir and Hyderabad.

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