BHU Students Protest Against Muslim to Teach Sanskrit, a Muslim Teaches Gita, Ramayan to Sanskrit Students at AMU
Mumtaz Alam | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 20— While students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) are protesting against appointment of a Muslim professor at its Department of Sanskrit, BHU’s neighbouring and contemporary Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has a Muslim professor heading its Sanskrit Department where both Hindu and Muslim students – Hindus are in majority – learn Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata from him. The department has both Hindu and Muslim teachers.
For the past two weeks, some students at BHU’s Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vigyan (SVDV) are protesting against the appointment of a Muslim Assistant Professor Dr. Firoze Khan, a doctorate in Sanskrit. On Monday, a “hawan kund” was held and around 20 SVDV students sat on a dharna outside the Vice- Chancellor’s residence protesting Dr. Khan’s appointment. They have boycotted the classes since November 7 – the day when Dr. Khan was appointed. He completed his Shastri (Bachelor degree), Shiksha Shastri (B.Ed), Acharya (post-graduate) and received his Ph.D. in 2018 from Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, a deemed university, in Jaipur, Rajasthan. He has also cleared NET and JRF. Dr. Khan’s father Ramzan Khan too is a graduate in Sanskrit.
Now contrast the BHU protest with AMU where Sanskrit is being taught for the past 144 years – since its inception.
AMU’s Department of Sanskrit has six teachers – three professors and three assistant professors. While four of them are Muslims, two are Hindus. They are: Prof. Mohammed Sharif (Professor), Prof. Khalid Bin Yusuf Khan (Professor), Prof. Himanshu Shekhar Acharya (Professor), Dr. (Mrs.) Hem Bala (Assistant Professor), Dr. Zafar Iftekhar (Assistant Professor) and Dr. Aliviea Raza (Assistant Professor).
Even though 80 per cent of the students at AMU’s Sanskrit Department are Hindus, they have never objected over Muslim teachers teaching them Sanskrit and religious books.
Talking to India Tomorrow over phone, Prof. Mohammed Sharif who heads AMU’s Sanskrit Department, said “The atmosphere of Sanskrit at AMU is very good. Students from both Hindu and Muslim communities study here and teachers are also from both communities.”
“At AMU, most of the students at the Sanskrit department are Hindus, roughly out of 15, some 12 are Hindus and 3 Muslims,” he said.
When asked if Hindu students ever objected that they won’t learn Sanskrit from Muslim professors, Prof. Sharif said: “I teach Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata to them. I teach Pali also. Only I teach these subjects to them. Our students, most of them are Hindus, want to do Ph.D. under my guidance. I am their first priority as a guide. They go to other teachers only when I am not available.”
Currently, seven students of Sanskrit are doing Ph.D. under Prof. Sharif – five of them are Hindus and two Muslims. So far, 12 students have done Ph.D. under him – 12 of them were Hindus and three Muslims.
Prof. Sharif, who has done MA, MPhil and Ph.D. in Sanskrit, is the first Muslim to head the Sanskrit Department of AMU.
Talking about his education, he said: “I studied at the Allahabad University. I faced interview at AMU and was selected. After education at Allahabad University, I taught Sanskrit at Shibli College in Azamgarh for one year.”
“I have also done D. Litt in Sanskrit from Allahabad University. I am perhaps the first Muslim in the world to have done D. Litt in Sanskrit from Allahabad University,” said Prof. Sharif.
His wife is also Head of Sanskrit Department at the Shibli College.
Talking about the BHU controversy, he said he knows Firoze Khan, who has been appointed at BHU, and the man knows Sanskrit. He said that if a Muslim is selected to teach Sanskrit, it means he has extraordinary talent.
“I know the BHU candidate. He knows Sanskrit. He has been selected on the basis of his talent. There are no two opinions in it,” says Prof. Sharif who is invited at interviews held by public service commissions. Recently, he was at UPPSC and Bihar’s Public Service Commission.
However, Prof. Sharif thinks that the appointment of Dr. Firoze Khan created controversy because he was appointed at the Sanskrit Department’s “Karma Kand” section where, according to Prof. Sharif, only Hindus are hired as per the BHU rules.