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Interview with Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari

Interview with Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari


He is newly elected amir (president) of Jamaat-e-Islami   
 Hind,26th june,2007

Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari is the newly elected amir (president) of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, India’s largest Muslim organization.’s editor Syed Ubaidur Rahman caught up with him for an interview. Excerpts:

Khabrein: For last more than a decade your name came for serious discussion for Jammat’s amaarat (president), how it feels to be the emir now?

Maulana Umari: There is no doubt that my name appeared and was debated for presidentship of Jamaat, but I resisted it because I felt that I was not eligible for such a big responsibility. The other thing was that I was also interested in continuing the writing and research work through our organization Idara Tahqeeq-o-Tasneef-e-Islami and its quarterly journal Tahqeeqate-Islami. But this time the responsibility was forced upon me.

 Khabrein: When Dr Abdul Haq Ansari was elected emir last time it was seen as a vote for change. Do you concur with the feeling that people in the Jamaat don’t want change?

Maulana Umari: What sort of changes you are talking about?

 Khabrein: More emphasis on social work, opening up to electoral politics and infusion of new ideas, as we hear were what he talked about.

Maulana Umari: As far as electoral politics is concerned Jamaat had decided long ago that we can participate in electoral politics for the benefit of people of the country and the community. Communal forces don’t want Muslims to be given their due share in power and equal status in the society. We felt long ago that such forces should not come to power and that we need to come forward to stop such forces from coming to power. The same is true of social work and other things.

Khabrein: Do you sincerely believe that Jamaat can make any impact in electoral politics? Does it have the sort of wide acceptability that can result in votes?

Maulana Umari: We definitely have impact in certain areas. That is true in areas like Kerala where Jamaat has big impact in almost all the areas of the state. There no organization can ignore us. In Kerala we realized that in the name of globalization the government policies had been anti people and were promoting only MNCs. So we opposed them and

favoured opposition that is now in power. In UP several Muslim organizations came forward and we thought we can chip in to empower the initiative. We sincerely believe that Muslims need to have more representation in power and politics of the country. There is also need to empower them with good education, employment and other basic issues. But unfortunately this did not translate into powerful platform. Now we have decided to support those organizations that are in a better position to defeat RSS groups in their respective constituencies so that these groups are not able to come to power and those parties come to power who do not discriminate against Muslims.

 Khabrien: But how did your organization believe that PUDF, the coming together of small time leaders could attract Muslim votes?

Maulana Umari: We had decided to strengthen the hands of Muslim organization. It is unfortunate that it did not go as we had anticipated.

 Khabrein: What are going to be your priorities for the next four years?

Maulana Umari: We cannot ignore the basic Muslim issues in the country like education, employment and the issue of political empowerment of the Muslims. We will be taking up these important issues as we have taken in the past. But I feel that there are two other very important issues that need to be taken seriously. We have not been able to reach out to the larger Hindu brethren of the country as we needed to. So they believe what they are fed by media controlled by US and also by RSS organizations in the country. They should be told that Islam brings man closer to God and gives him peace. And that Islam makes a person a better human being. They should be told that Islam does not differentiate and discriminate between men on the basis of caste and community. We should present the true face of Islam before them. Muslims despite great teaching of Islam are unfortunately not ideal as they are supposed to be. We should also work towards improving the overall moral condition of the Muslims. I want that Jamaat members and its cadres should come on top as human beings with all the good qualities that Islam stands for.

 Khabrein: Do you really feel that Jamaat can do it. Are you talking about super human beings?
Maulana Umari: I don’t think that is the case. Islam does not talk of super human beings. But it wants a man to be honest, trust worthy, high on moral grounds.

 Khabrein: it means you admit that Jamaat people are no longer as good as they were. Or that earlier there were better people in Jamaat and now there are not many. Do you admit that degradation has set in Jamaat?

Maulana Umari: That is not the case. Jamaat has stringent rules and its members should qualify on those certain rules to be a member of the Jamaat.

 Khabrein: What other things would be your focus during this term?

Maulana Umari: We would like to solve the Muslim issues and problems as much as we can. We would try to make government understand what it needs to do for the minorities in the country. Now Sachar Panel has documented all the ailments that were faced by Muslims so far. These are not new things. Muslims talked of these issues and they were unanimous that special steps should be taken to bring out the Muslims from the backwardness that they find them due to lack of government policies for the community. Now Sachar Panel has documented it under government supervision. Government should formulate program to implement the recommendations of Sachar panel.

 Khabrein: You talked of concentrating on producing Islamic literature. But of late Jamaat’s contribution in bringing out new Islamic literature has been rather slow!

Maulana Umari: We are working on it. Our contribution in the field is enormous. We are trying to improve it and bring out more literature with the changing needs. I would like to strengthen our existing institutions and also establish new ones.