The Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama (SKJU) formed on January 26, 1926 is the largest and the most influential religious organization in India as well as among the state’s Sunni Muslims.
The 90th annual celebrations of the organization concluded in Alappuzha on February 14. The meet characterized by organisational expertise and huge public presence would be marked as an important chapter in the history of the organization. The circumstances that exist today are different from that at the time of formation of the organization. Transformations of all kinds have occurred in all aspects of the society. The leaders could therefore be proud for having succeeded in keeping the organization alive and active even after 90 years. The leadership of the traditional scholars as well as the vibrancy and expertise of the young generation work together as the driving force behind the organization. SKJU has come a long way since its inception with separate feeder organisations, outfits and facilities operating under it. The thousands of madrasas run by the organization are one of its most important features. The role played by the organization in boosting Islamic education as well as the Arab language is undeniable. The chain of institutions doesn’t function under a centralized corporate management but under the committees that are locally formed similar to a democratic system. They follow centralized syllabus and evaluation methods and try to incorporate advanced methods and techniques in running the institutions. The madrasa system in Kerala is a rare model for the Muslims worldwide. Even though the organization had initially shown reluctance, it had played a significant role in the development of madrasa system. Formation of new pre primary institutional chains under the name Al Birr was also announced during the Alappuzha conference. Another important force behind the organization is the local mahal committees functioning under it. They play a vital role in influencing the Muslim society in a region.
Most of the mahal committees operate under the organization which might be reason for holding special session titled ‘Nammude mahal’ in the annual meet at Alappuzha. Each of these ‘mahals’ have sufficient wealth as well as the growing presence of the youth. But most of them fail to scientifically utilize these resources. If the mahal activities are scientifically organized, it could create wonders not just among Muslims but also in the society. No such efforts have been taken place so far. As one of the leading organizations in the field, the SKJU could make efforts in this regard. However a significant drawback is the absence of women in the activities related to the organisation. The organizers might have their own reasons. At a time when women emphasise and establish their presence in almost all fields including in the male bastions, the question as to how it would be able to move forward by keeping away an important section that constitutes half of the society, is relevant. Imperialistic powers in the present scenario aggravate the Sunni-Shia divides and turn the Muslim nations into battle fields. On the other hand, the central government led by the right wing ideologies is intensifying their saffronising agenda targeting the minorities including the Muslims. The All-India Tanzeem Ulama-e-Islam (AITUI), an umbrella organisation of Sufi Sunni had held a conclave at the Talkatora indoor stadium in New Delhi on February 8. The gathering which announced their support to Modi and the RSS was part of the right wing agenda of intensifying the Barelvi-Deobandi split. The meet urged the government to adopt steps similar to that followed by Vladimir Putin in Chechnya and Al-Sisi in Egypt. Given that the organizations themselves have come forward extending support for the Centre, the religious scholars should be vigilant in taking every step.