By Mubashir V.P
Even days after the demise of well-known Kerala Muslim leader Cherusseri Zainudheen Musliyar, people owing various organizational affiliations continue to express their condolence over the irreparable loss of Kerala Muslim society. The scholar, aged 79, bequeathed a rich tradition of peaceful social mobilization of the community and the vibrant transmission of religious knowledge. Stubbornly clinching to the traditionalist view of Islam, he was, however, open to view of broad interpretation of classical Islamic texts to find the religious solutions for the issues of modernity.
Born to a scholarly family, Zainudheen Musliyar was keen to acquire both secular and religious knowledge. The primary and the significant tutor was his father and he was nurtured well under the stern spiritual guidance of his father. Within a short span of ten years he mastered every branches of Islamic knowledge and developed a strong interest in the Islamic jurisprudence and that made him later on invest his time and effort in comprehensively analyzing classical texts of jurisprudence of various ma’dhahib. After he turned twenty two years old, he was appointed as lecturer in a famous religious institutions and was conferred the prerogative to issue fatwa.
Until his death, he continued as a persuasive teacher in various Islamic institutions, including Darul Huda Islamic University, calling for the strict adherence to the traditional Islam and logically countering the innovative Islamic interpolations of modernity. He was the firm advocate of the strict scriptural reading of classical texts and vigorously preached the efficacy of these texts composed in middle ages to solve the vexed problems of secular modernity and, thus, blunting the accusations raised by revivalist movements to timely interpret the Islamic sharia’.
After Darul Huda Islamic Academy was elevated to university in 2009, he served the institution as pro-chancellor and was crucial in integrating seemingly conflicting secular subjects within the framework of religious study. He is rightly credited with equipping the students to face the challenges posed by modernity and emerged successful in his experiments to boost the standards of religious education from the mere superficial reading to the broad interpretation of the subjects. His disciples have spilled all over the nation, rendering great services to the community.
In 1980 he was inducted to the Samastha Kerala Jam’iyyathul Ulama, a supreme body of religious scholars of Kerala that represents the vast interests of society. This marked a watershed in the organizational history of Kerala Muslims. In 1926, Samastha Kerala Jam’iyyathul Ulama was established as a deterrent force against the further demoralization of Kerala Muslims, already fed up with the futile spate of agrarian rebellions against British and upper caste Hindu combine. In 1996 he was selected as general secretary of the organization, a post he held until his death. People thronged in flocks to listen to his religious sermons presented with utmost authority and precision.
Unlike many elusive community leaders, he was articulate on issues pertained to the community and pragmatic, bold decisions were taken without compromising the broad interests of the society. He allied with all Indian Muslim leaders in their struggles to restore the immunity of shari’ and reject the forceful imposition of union civil code. Often, he assumed the role of spearheading the peaceful agitations in the wake of unjust state interference in religious rights enshrined in the constitution of the nation. Keeping aloof from the appeasement politics, instead of handpicking any parties, he actively participated in the democratic process of the nation and exhorted the masses to thrash communism and fascism in order to preserve the religious identity of the community for the posterity.
More importantly, he acted as an authority of last resort in issues of jurisprudence. People from various spectrum approached Musliyar either to verify the judgements of other scholars or to dispose hitherto unsolved issues. A vast range of issues like marriage, divorce, validity of different contracts and inheritance came for his disposal. Due to his well acclaimed expertise in jurisprudence, he commanded great respect among the Kerala Muslims as a sole authority in Islamic legal issues.
His death has practically created a vacuum in the social life of Kerala Muslims and they are yet to overcome the trauma suffered after his demise. The departure of a luminary from the galaxy of scholars has caused immense panic among the people over the qualified heir. He will be remembered forever for his contributions to the community.
[Mubashir V.P is P.G Scholar, Darul Huda Islamic University, Tirurangadi (p.o), Chemmad, Malappuram (dist), Kerala. He can be contacted on his Mobile # +91-9656424942 or on email at firstname.lastname@example.org]