Maulana Vastanvi is a Pasmanda (OBC) Muslim from Gujarat.
I completed my early Islamic education at Darul Uloom Falah-e-Darain Tadkeshwar (district Surat, Gujarat). I then worked as an Arabic teacher at Darul Uloom Kantharia (district Bharuch, Gujarat). In 1979 when I was teaching there, we had two students who were from Akkalkuwa, a small hamlet in Maharashtra. At that time, the population of Akkalkuwa may have been 5,000. I am talking about 1980. Muslims were about 50 percent so there were around 2,500 Muslims. At the invitation of those two students (both are now teaching at our institutions) I went to Akkalkuwa in 1980. Wahan kuch nahi tha ... Sirf jahalat thi. There was total ignorance. Muslims were unaware of the teachings of Islam. They were extremely poor. Mosques lay abandoned. No one took care of them. There was no library, no school. So when I visited Akkalkuwa, this thought crossed my mind that I should do something here. Remember, this was just a thought not a dream. Then I wrote to my elders about the situation in Akkalkuwa. They said "baith jaao," start working there. So in 1980 I built a shed that cost us 18,000 rupees. That shed or "jhonpda" still exists today. We started with six students and two teachers -- Maulana Ishaq and Maulana Yaqoob.
Then two residents of Akkalkuwa -- Salman Havaldar and Yaqoob Dada -- each gave us 3 acres of land. So we had six acres. On this six-acre plot we started work in 1983. In two years we got a building constructed. Around this time, in 1986 to be precise, I went to South Africa. There I met Abdullah Omar Naseef who was visiting that country. He was at that time the chief of the World Muslim League. I immediately extended an invitation to him to visit our madrasa. He accepted our invitation. It became big news in India. Omar Naseef was riding the crest of popularity in the Muslim world with his dynamism. The popular reaction in India was "Such a big man, coming to Akkalkuwa!" Omar Naseef is a great man. May Allah bless him. He always thought big. I never heard him saying no. Anybody who went to him, he would say "yes" and "done".
His arrival in Akkalkuwa in 1987 proved to be a turning point in the history of the Muslims of Akkalkuwa. It was a big program from our point of view. However, it was a small program looking at the stature of Omar Naseef. He faced a lot of difficulties reaching Akkalkuwa. There were no paved roads. The best car available then was the Ambassador. And we did not have enough resources. In his speech, however, he said he was overwhelmed by the love of the Muslims of India. "This will remain my most memorable visit." That is what he said. Then Omar Naseef invited us to the Muslim World League and introduced us to people in Kuwait. I always visit him when I visit Saudi Arabia.
So our Jamia Akkalkuwa continued to make steady progress in 1980s and 1990s. The strength rose from six students to 500, 700, 1,000. Today our Jaamia is the biggest madrasa for memorizing the Qur'an in Asia. We have 10,000 students who are currently memorizing the Qur'an in Jamia and other Jamia affiliates. We have more than 100 branches. Every year, 1,500 students graduate from the Jamia after having memorized the Holy Qur'an. At other madaris there are only 200-300 students. In Deoband itself there are only 250 students in the memorizing Qur’an section (tahfeez al-Qur’an). So far, 15,000 students are already hafiz and are working in various parts of the country. In Deoband, the memorizing Qur’an section is not big. There the focus is on the alim studies (alamiyyat). Every year Deoband produces 800 to 900 alims.
Then we realized that in Akkalkuwa there were no opportunities for mainstream worldly education. So we helped the villagers start a high school. We constructed the building for them. At that time it cost us 2.5 million rupees. Then we started our own high school. Then a junior college. The students from the local high school had no opportunity to continue higher studies so they started coming to our junior college. Then we launched a Unani medical college (BUMS). Then we launched ITIs. So far, nearly 2,000 students have benefited from these technical institutes. Since there is a certain criteria set by the government to enlist students, our huffaz did secondary education after completing their memorization courses and got into these technical institutes. But most of the students who came to join our technical institutes were from regular schools, but once they joined the technical institutes run by us we provided them with religious education. That was an incentive for them. They got an Islamic way of life. So a Muslim student at our ITI did not just become a technical expert but a good Muslim too. And those Hindus who enroll in our technical institutes become sympathetic to the Muslim issues.
So now we have a Unani medical college, technical institutes, B.Ed. colleges, D.Ed colleges, polytechnic colleges, D. Pharm College, B. Pharm College and a B.E. engineering college. The most important point in our colleges is that there is no concept of donation. There are hundreds of students to whom we provide free education in our colleges. All this has improved the economy of Akkalkuwa. Akkalkuwa is not what it was when we first visited in 1980. Akkalkuwa has become a proper town. I have now spent 30 years there. I have never faced any difficulty from our Hindu brothers in Akkalkuwa. They have been very helpful. In fact, their students are enrolled in our institutes as well.
I can safely say that after Aligarh this is the largest chain of institutions. [It is worth pointing out that Maulana Vastanwi has helped construct 5,000 mosques in Maharashtra's remote districts. Many of these mosques have cost 5 million rupees and some even 10 million rupees. He has helped dig 4,000 bore wells for drinking water and set up hundreds of primary schools. To date he has set up 2,500 primary Islamic centers]. So far, the Akkalkuwa campus is far bigger than Deoband. But Deoband is prestigious. There is no doubt about that. We have 12,500 students with lodging and boarding facilities. Deoband has only 3,000 students.
Written by : Mohammed Sadatullah Khan , Posting id :25408 , Date : 2011/02/23-00:11:42 CDT , Report
Would like to know about Akkalkuwa
Written by : Tabrej , Posting id :3865 , Date : 2010/06/10-02:37:22 CDT , Report
Written by : Tabrej , Posting id :3864 , Report
how can I reach Akkalkuwa by train or bus from Surat
Written by : Sajid Ismail Patel , Posting id :137357 , Report