Prof Irfan Habib's remark on AMU minority character causes stir

NB : Professor Irfan Habib deserves support for his stand. The ghetto mentality of certain sections of Muslim intelligentsia is harmful both for Indian Muslims and for the political climate in the country as a whole. The response to his remarks by those who disagree with him is evidence of the negative character of this ghetto mentality. Personal attacks are being made and he is being accused of 'conspiring' against Muslim interests because he has a different view. No person or group is the proprietor of a so-called 'community interest', and no one has the right or legislate for 'the community'. A free and democratic exchange of views should be encouraged and people attacking Professor Habib should realise they are contributing to the growing climate of intolerance in Indian politics.  Thank you, Professor Habib - DS

Irfan Habib, an Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) professor, has created a stir by questioning the demand for the varsity's minority character. Speaking at an old boys' association meet called "Dialogues Initiative", held at the Kennedy Hall, Habib said that under the AMU Act. the university could not be given the status of a minority institution.

His statement has now been challenged by several Muslim intellectuals, with some of them demanding that action should be taken against him. "Professor Habib's recent remarks about the minority character of the university is a conspiracy against the interest of the community and the institution he serves," said Professor Razaullah Khan, while chairing a meeting of the Forum for Muslim Studies and Analysis (FMSA) Aligarh.

Habib's remark has come at a time when the AMU community is fighting for the restoration of the university's minority status. Razaullah Khan said the Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College (MAO) college, which later became the Aligarh Muslim University, was founded by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan for educating Indian Muslims though its doors were open for all communities. Jasim Mohammad, secretary general of the FMSA, said Habib has created an unnecessary controversy just to please a section of Indian society which is hell bent to ensure backwardness of Indian Muslims. 

AMU EC Member Mohammad Shahid said Habib has in the past on several occasions tried to create controversy in order to get cheap publicity. Mohammad Shahid said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had herself assured the university students of minority status during her convocation address and now the Congress is keeping a deadly silence. Professor Shahabuddin Iraqi, former chairman, Department Of History, said Habib may be a popular man but he lacks any sense for community.

FMSA passed a resolution which strongly condemned the statement of Irfan Habib and demanded him to leave the university. In another resolution, FMSA has demanded the university administration to take suitable action against him.

Eminent historian Irfan Habib has questioned the demand for minority institution status to Aligarh Muslim University at a time when a large section of AMU fraternity is campaigning vigorously for restoration of such status. "The grant AMU receives is the money of Indians collected through tax. Therefore, no special treatment should be given to any one section and all must get equal opportunities," Prof Habib said at a function of AMU Old Boys' Association on Monday. The university doesn't need minority status as it's not an institution only for Muslims, he said, and such status would be against the Indian Constitution. Those campaigning for minority status for AMU condemned Prof Habib's remark. Former AMU students union president Tauseef Alam said, "The university has every right to be called a minority institution. By minority we do not mean Muslims. We demand children of poor families who are in minority including Christians, Sikhs, and Buddhists.''

Differing with this view, Prof Shafey Kidwai, chairman of mass communication department, said, "He has exercised his right to free expression. I don't see any reason to condemn his remarks. Muslims are emotive about the minority status but there is no point to feel offended.'' Arif Rizvi of West Asian Studies said, "All Prof Habib meant was that the minority status will not be beneficial for the students and the university. It won't do any good to Muslims. If people respect their self freedom, they should also value Prof Habib's words. Abusing him is totally unjust.''

Others were less accommodating. Azam Meer Khan, vice-president of AMU Old Boys Association, stuck to the demand of minority status. "Prof Habib could have avoided the question but he took his stand. We're with the students and the university administration in their demand for minority status,'' Khan told TOI. AMU spokesman Prof Rahat Abrar said, "The university firmly believes that it is a minority institution. A case in this regard is pending with the Supreme Court. It's very Act clearly says that the university is established for educating Indian Muslims. Before India got Independence, the Act also mentioned that not a single Hindu can be elected as a member of the university court. However, amendments have been made but still university belongs to the Muslims.''

Popular posts from this blog

Haruki Murakami: On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning

The Almond Trees by Albert Camus (1940)

Satyagraha - An answer to modern nihilism

Rudyard Kipling: critical essay by George Orwell (1942)

A Message to the 21st Century by Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997)

Goodbye Sadiq al-Azm, lone Syrian Marxist against the Assad regime

Three Versions of Judas: Jorge Luis Borges