New Delhi: “Propagation of Islam among non-Muslims; Islamic education for the conventional Muslims who lack religious awareness.” Sathya Sarani, an organisation based in Manjeri town of Malappuram district in Kerala, cites these very words on its official website as its ‘action plan’.
It’s the same organisation where Akhila alias Hadiya had gone to ‘study Islam’. Hadiya’s private life has now become a matter of national debate thanks to the Supreme Court intervention in her case that has brought alive the topic of “Love Jihad”.
Akhila, a student at a Homeopathic medical college, reportedly got converted to Islam “influenced” by her two room-mates, and married Shefin Jahan. The Kerala High Court annulled the marriage and soon, the Supreme Court asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the marriage and the angle of ‘love jihad’.
Sarani has been the news after Hadiya’s father alleged that his daughter was in the custody of the organisation in 2015. His claims have been corroborated by the organisation, which told News18 that the girl was indeed at their campus in Manjeri.
“Hadiya was here a year and a half ago. However, she did not complete her course,” said one of the officials at the Islamic organisation. Hadiya had completed barely 40-45 days of a 50-day course the institute runs to teach Islam to people who want to know about the religion. The official refused to be named for this story saying he is not authorized to talk to media.
So what does life at the institute, which has been accused by Kerala state BJP chief Kummanam Rajasekharan of being “illegal” and acting as a “a centre for large-scale conversions”, look like?
With separate dormitories for females and males, the institute in the heart of a Muslim-dominated area (Malappuram is Kerala’s only Muslim-majority district), boasts of a 50-day crash course on Islam. On an average, 100 people register for the course every month, which comprises of eight modules.
“It’s too little a time to teach someone Islam. Those are very basic teachings that we tell them about Islam. It’s for everyone who wants to know about the religion,” said the official.
Adding that the institute has had families, including parents with their children, coming to them for their course, the official told CNN News18 that Sarani has people ranging from the age bracket of 20 years to 45 years.
Ignoring any claims made on conversion, the official said that it was easy to know about any religion these days and there was no need for ‘conversion’ platforms in that sense.
“Everything’s on the internet. People who are genuinely interested in the religion will take it forward. Those who don’t want to will not go forward with it,” CNN News18 was told. The institute also does not believe in the idea of love jihad, a concept which the official said has no meat. It is, however, imperative to note something that the official website states.
“Sathya Sarani could establish facilities for study of Islam in three remote villages in Palakkad district to those who lived astray from the faith…Christian missionaries are targeting poor Muslims at different parts of the state. They are brainwashed and driven to Christianity exploiting their poverty and lack of religious awareness,” it says.
The institute, the site further reads, could identify such people and succeed in bringing them back to the faith by convincing them the concept of monotheism of Islam.