By Sohail Arshad,
The writer takes an analytical look at the US proposal for appointing American teachers in Indian madrasas and smells a conspiracy in the proposal –Editor.
Recently a shocking news report came that said that the US wanted to appoint American teachers in Indian madrasas. The teachers would try to remove the misconceptions and misunderstandings about the US from Muslim minds. The US government has sent a proposal to the MEA to this effect which is under the consideration of the government. The US proposal is apparently a part of the Obama administration’s efforts to bridge the gulf between the US and the Muslim countries. But a closer look at it gives us an altogether different picture. It seems to have been aimed at tarnishing the image of the Indian madrasas.
Although the proposal has come after Obama’s India visit in November last year, the efforts to prepare the ground for it had been on since August. According to the report, the special envoy of the US government Mr Rashad Hussain had made a nine day visit to India in August and visited colleges and universities in Aligarh, Patna, Mumbai, New Delhi and Hyderabad. He had also met government officials and leaders and discussed issues related to the fight against terrorism, global health, initiatives in the field of education and entrepreneurship. The report does not mention names of Muslim leaders and officials Rashad Hussain might have met during his visit. The proposal has come after the visit.
Central Madrasa Board
It should be recalled that the government of India had come up with the proposal for setting up a central Madrasa Board to modernise and reform the madrasa system and introduce modern subjects in it. Though a section of Muslim leaders and intellectuals had supported the proposal, the majority of religious leaders, intellectuals and Muslim leaders had opposed the move. More importantly, out of the 18 Muslim MPs present in the HRD Ministry’s meeting with Muslim MPs in October 2009, 13 voted against the proposal. The Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind in its conference on November 3, 2009 had also opposed the proposal. The President of the JUH, Qari Md Usman had said that the central government’s move to set up the Central Madrasa Board would harm the objectives, identity and the spiritual character of the madrasas and, therefore, the proposal was unacceptable. He further said that if at all a madrasa board was to be set up it should be controlled by the functionaries of madrasas rather than by the government.
According to the draft bill, the Madrasa Board would consist of 15 members appointed by the Central government. The syllabus committee of the board would be authorised to modify the existing syllabus of the madrasas on the pretext of introducing modern sciences, thereby damaging the spiritual character of the madrasas, a concern expressed by Jamiat President Qari Md Usman.
Muslim intellectual Syed Shahabuddin had also expressed doubt about the sincerity of the government in pushing for the Madrasa Board bill.
More importantly Maulana Wahiduddin Khan whose views on most religious issues relating to Muslims are generally diametrically opposite to that of general Muslims, expressed his reservations on the need to set up a Central Madrasa Board.
It is therefore evident from the proposal of the US government to appoint American teachers in Indian madrasas that the suspicion expressed by the Indian ulema and intellectuals about the intent of the government regarding the Madrasa Board was not unfounded. If the Central Madrasa Board had been set up last year the appointment of American teachers would have been easier at the behest of the US government as the Central government would be the sole authority to take all the important decisions with regard to madrasas. Now perhaps it would not be inappropriate to say that the proposal of the Madrasa Board was in fact the brainchild of the US government presented by the Indian government. The way the US has been influencing the internal and external policies of India only corroborates this view. The US was confident that once the Indian government gains control over the madrasas through the Central Madrasa Board it would be easier to appoint American teachers in them by showing the government the ghost of terrorism. The urgency of America in getting its teachers appointed in madrasas can be gauged by the fact that despite its knowledge that the Central Madrasa Board could not be implemented and therefore according to the article 30 of the Constitution of India the madrasas enjoy minority status free from the government interference, it presented the proposal and before doing that sent its special Muslim envoy Rashad Hussain to India to prepare the ground for it. It is hard to understand how the central government is going to pave the way for the appointment of the American teachers even if accepts the proposal. The government will probably present the proposal to the Muslims once again with some palatable modifications and will try to get it passed by the Parliament at any cost.
Motives behind US proposal
Now let’s discuss the possible motives behind the efforts to appoint American teachers in Indian madrasas.
There are about 7000 registered madrasas in India in which about 3.5 lakh students get religious education. Darul Uloom Deoband which is one of the largest seminaries in the world is the biggest centre of religious education in India attracting students from other Muslim countries as well. Two years ago, Darul Uloom Deoband issued a fatwa against terrorism declaring terrorism unIslamic and gave the message to the outside world that the madrasas run under its patronage propagate the message of peace and equality of Islam and had nothing to do with an unIslamic ideology like terrorism. This section of millions of Muslim youth has been rendering religious and social services silently for decades and not a single madrasa or a functionary of any madrasa in the country has ever been found involved in any terrorist, extremist or subversive activities contrary to the wishes of their detractors.
According to the claims of the Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, it has so far held 200 conferences condemning and opposing terrorism. It’s because of the message of love, fraternity and communal and sectarian harmony spread by the madrasas that no sectarian skirmishes between Shias and Sunnis have taken place in the country. All the Islamic sects live in peace and harmony in India. The Ulema unlike their counterparts in Pakistan have not resorted to the politics of Takfir (declaring other sects infidels).
As for the misconceptions and misunderstandings among the Muslims about the US, the sincere efforts Obama made towards improving relations with the Muslim world shortly after assuming office helped form a positive opinion about his regime among the Muslims of the world including those of India. The US withdrew the forces from Iraq keeping its promise, announced the withdrawal date for the US forces from Afghanistan in 2011 and did not attack Iran despite pressures from Israel imposing only economic sanctions to keep allies happy. He took a tough stand against Israel after the latter’s attack on the Palestine-bound Freedom Flotilla and Israel’s plans to build new homes in Gaza strip. It caused serious rifts between the countries. Obama’s sympathies for the Muslims and his soft corner for the Muslim countries caused a lot of heartburn among the Jewish lobby in the US. Therefore, the Jewish media launched a vilification campaign against Obama. Probably for the first time the effigy of an American President was burnt in Israel. Back in the US the Jewish media presented Obama as a Muslim and the White House had to issue a statement claiming Obama was a Christian. When the political leaders and the media of the US were opposing the proposed Ground Zero mosque and Islamic Centre in New York, Obama had openly supported it saying the mosque was the constitutional right of the American Muslims.
Madrasa Dar-ul-Huda, Kerala
Therefore, the hate campaign run by the media against Obama led to huge defeats of the Democrats in the recently held local elections. Not only that, the WikiLeaks started publishing secret documents related to Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Most of the documents reported atrocities on and killings of innocent civilians by the US forces in the two countries. The purpose behind these disclosures was to damage Obama’s image among the Muslims and to damage relations between the Muslim countries by creating an atmosphere of mistrust and misunderstanding. The founder of the WikiLeaks, Julian Assange went so far as to demand resignation of Obama’s deputy, Hillary Clinton who is furthering Obama’s policies. If he had demanded Obama’s resignation out rightly the truth would have come out. Therefore, the disclosures of the WikiLeaks were a part of the Zionist conspiracy against the Muslim countries and the Obama administration.
However, it was thanks to Obama’s positive steps on Muslim affairs that when he visited India in November last year, the Muslims and the Muslim media warmly greeted him and there was not a single protest against him. And even if some religious leader tried to instigate Muslims against him, they did not buy his theory.
In contrast Pakistani madrasas run by the Taliban and Hafiz Sayeed’s Jamaatud Dawah preach extremism and terrorism openly in the name of jihad. Suicide bombers and ‘mujahideen’ are manufactured there for terrorist activities in Kashmir, Afghanistan and America. Not only that, in those madrasas, hatred against Shias and other Islamic sects is preached. As a result sectarian violence has assumed dangerous proportions in Pakistan. Moreover, regional bias is also promoted in these madrasas. For example, when a religious scholar from Mumbai, Allama Khalilur Rahman went on the pilgrimage to Makkah, he boarded a car with a Pakistani aalim thinking that he was also a Muslim. But when the Pakistani aalim came to know that Mr Rahman was an Indian Muslim, he got him offloaded from the car.
When the US attacked Afghanistan after 9/11, thousands of tribal Muslims from Pakistan went to Afghanistan to take part in ‘jihad’ against the US. The drone attacks by the US on the tribal areas of Pakistan on a daily basis killing innocent civilians have created intense hatred of the US among the Pakistani Muslims. The agents of CIA, Blackwater and other private security agencies have infested every department of Pakistani government and polity taking advantage of the lawlessness and anarchy in the country and have either been executing subversive and destructive activities themselves or indirectly helping the terrorist organisations in Pakistan. Due to all this, Pakistanis hate the US most. On the other hand, Palestinians hold the US responsible for the Israeli aggression and atrocities against them as the US has been protecting its interests. Therefore the Muslims of any other region do not hate America as much as the Pakistanis and the Palestinians do. Why then the US is not worried about removing misconceptions and hatred against it in the minds of the Pakistanis? Why does it not want to appoint teachers in Pakistani madrasas? Why doesn’t it want to cure Palestinians’ wounds? Why is it worried only about its image among the Indian madrasa students who form less than one per cent of the total Indian population?
The crux of the matter is that the US government, its intelligence agencies and defence organisations are dominated by the Jewish lobby who is the worst enemy of the Muslims. On the pretext of the war on terror, this lobby has used the military might of the US against the Muslim countries so that no Muslim country can stand up against Israel. Terrorism has provided them with an excuse to further their influence in the world and their political and military interests in smaller and weaker Muslim countries. It attacked Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of war on terror. It started drone strikes in Pakistan and is now seeking Pakistan government’s permission to extend its drone operations and start ground offensives in other parts of the country. The US has got the permission to start drone strikes in Yemen due to the rise in terrorist activities in the country.
A madrasa students in Mewat, Haryana
Therefore, if terrorism gets a strong presence in India too, the US can find a ploy to further its political and military interests in the country in view of the growing might of China in the region. Some big terrorist operations have indeed been carried out in the country but they were mostly done by the Pakistani terrorist organisations. On the whole, Indian Muslims believe in the democratic process and are a peace loving community. There is not a single religious organisation in the country that openly preaches extremism in the name of Islam. That’s why the US has not found any justified ground to further its political and military interests in India. It plans to place its moles in every department of India in the same way as it has placed its CIA agents in every walk of life in Pakistan to carry out subversive activities in India. The discipline and integrity of the Indian madrasas is an eyesore for the US. It thinks that if seeds of extremism and terrorism can be sown in these madrasas with the strength of 3.5 lakh Muslim youth and if at least 3 to 4 Muslim youth embark on the path of extremism, it can declare the entire madrasa system a source of terrorism and the madrasa students terrorists and create the same situation in India as it has in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. It is therefore not unlikely that the US will place CIA agents and Muslim teachers having radical and extremist views from America and Pakistan in a planned way in order to damage the character of the Indian madrasas. It is also possible that these ‘teachers’ or secret agents will publish false reports and surveys on madrasas ‘disclosing’ that the Indian madrasas also preach extremism and terrorism secretly. The lies of Bush and Blair about the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq have gone down into history.
Therefore, if Obama religiously wants to improve America’s image among Muslims, he should not try to stab them in their back by placing Farah Pandit and Rashad Hussain in the front. The ulema, the Muslim intellectuals and Muslim leaders should be ready to fight the battle against the Central Madrasa Board once again as the proposal will probably be presented to them again in a new form.
(The writer is a freelance journalist and poet and writer of Urdu based in Kolkata, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)