Feb 292012

His seven-month tenure as the Mohtamim of Darul uloom Deoband may have been fraught with controversies but Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi seems to hold sway over overseas Muslims. Back from a tour of Deoband and Kerala, members of a delegation of British Muslims told The Indian Express that Vastanvi’s model of combining the secular with the sacred in his educational institutions in Akkalkua is one that Muslim seminaries across the world would do well to adopt. They said had Vastanvi continued at the helm there, Darul uloom Deoband would have “progressed to the next level”.

Yusuf Ebrahim Akudi, a first generation Muslim Imam born and educated in the UK, said: “South was impressive, their command over English, vocabulary, current affairs awareness, the way students were taking stands on things were striking. There is a distinct difference between Islamic seminaries in the north and the south. Students were so much more aware in Kerala which may have to do with better infrastructure, more resources and the higher overall literacy rate.”

The balance of religion and modernity, they added, has been struck better by institutions in southern India than those in the north.

Osman Sheikh, principal of Quills Consultancy, an organisation involved in fund raising and community initiatives, said: “We were keen to visit Akkalkua to see how Maulana Vastanvi has brought the secular and the sacred together… That could not be fitted into our itinerary, but we are meeting him personally in Mumbai.”

Apart from Deoband where their “15-minute interaction” with students stretched to one-and-a-half hours, they visited the Calicut University, Farook College, Markaz Al Sunniyah, Jamia Millia Islamia University.

Sheikh had spent nine years at Al Jameah Al Islamiyyah seminary in Dabhel, Gujarat. He is not willing to indulge in the north versus south debate, but concedes that the fact that Darul uloom Deoband’s policy of not accepting government funding may be one of its limitations.

But Vastanvi, feels Salim Yusuf Lorgat, an East Midlands fundraiser for Islamic Relief, would have been a potent influence on Deoband, taking it to the “next level”. “He is a big figure among Muslims in South Africa, Canada and would have been able to mobilise funds for Darul uloom,” he said.

News Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/

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