Person of the YearThe Muslim 500

Man of the Year 2023 – Maulana Mahmood A. Madani

Maulana Mahmood Madani is the President of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH), one of the oldest and most-respected Muslim organisations in India. He served as its General Secretary for nearly two decades before assuming the position which his illustrious father, Maulana As’ad Madani, had held for over 50 years. He has invigorated the organisation by tackling head on critical issues of the day such as terrorism and Islamophobia, as well as never losing sight of the grassroots work that is at the heart of the day-to-day concerns of Indian Muslims.

Maulana Madani is an Islamic scholar, public speaker, social worker and preacher of Islamic humanitarian values, tolerance, and peace. Through the platform of the JUH, he has fought the twin battles of condemning terrorism in all its forms as well as calling out those who would use the issue to scapegoat the Muslim community. He has regularly arranged massive public rallies and international scholarly conferences dealing with all the ramifications of these issues. He has consistently and clearly called out the evil of DA’ISH. On the flip side, he has defended hundreds of cases Muslims who have been falsely implicated in terror cases. He has also taken on other cases with regard to securing the rights of Indian Muslims (including the right to citizenship, and the right to practice religious duties).

With the ruling BJP party promoting Hindu nationalism—Hindutva—to ever-more harmful levels, Indian Muslims are killed and discriminated against as never before. The response to this has been multi-pronged. First, to provide protection against the growing cases of Islamophobia and hatred, Maulana Mahmood Madani has founded JEIM (the Justice and Empowerment Initiative for Indian Muslims). This initiative records cases of Islamophobia in a systematic manner and provides advocacy and other forms of assistance to victims. It is a simple, logistical and necessary step to show to the outside world the scale of the problem.

Coupled with this defence of Muslim rights, Maulana Madani has always been a vocal supporter of unity in diversity and has consistently emphasised harmonious relations between different faiths in India. As his famous grandfather Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani was in the 1920s, he is a firm believer in the concept of  nationalism. The practical outcome of this was Maulana Mahmood overseeing over 1000 interfaith conferences, sadhbhwana sansad, to promote communal harmony and involving leaders of all faiths.

The basis of the JUH has been humanitarian, welfare and educational activities. During his 25 years of service at JUH, he has served the victims of tragedies in Gujarat, Bihar, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Kashmir, Kerala, Assam, UP, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha etc. He is also a great supporter of the rights movement of minorities and the marginalised. His presence matters to India and its principles of secularism and pluralism.

Responsible for the education of over a million children in tens of thousands of maktabs and madrasahs, Maulana Madani has worked on upgrading the educational curriculum to meet the demands of the modern age.  Always a sensitive subject for outsiders to approach, he has the expertise and legitimacy to upgrade the Dar Ulums’ curriculum and he has introduced a system whereby madrasah students are certified and recognised as having secondary level (10th  standard) education without any adverse change to their existing religious curriculum.

This has been a historic development. Coupled with this, the Jamiat Yout Club (JYC) empowers youth with other skills. It is an affiliate of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, and works under the umbrella of the world-renowned autonomous body “Bharat Scouts & Guides” of which Maulana Mahmood Madani is its chairman. Its vision is to support the youth to achieve their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential as individuals, as responsible citizens, and as members of the local, national and international communities.

Maulana Madani is a leading voice in the Indian Muslim community, which is 200-million strong. Their challenges are unprecedented and the success of his work has a major influence on how they fare.

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