Can’t a Muslim Teach Sanskrit: BHU Protests Appointment of Muslim Teacher in Sanskrit Department

I don’t know Quran as much as I know Sanskrit literature, says Firoze Khan after a prolonged protest against his appointment .

In the wake of the protests that have been going on at BHU against the appointment of a Muslim teacher Firoze Khan in the Sanskrit Department, it is really time to ask whether one’s religious affiliation have something to do with the discipline one teaches? Firoze Khan recalls that he was never before made conscious of his religious identity in such a bad way as he is being now.

Dr. Firoze Khan joined the Banaras Hindu University as an Assistant Professor in the Sanskrit Department eleven days ago. But the controversy regarding his appointment has led to his hiding and complete absence from the public domain.  On Monday,  several students of the BHU campus organised a dharna/protest outside the Vice-Chancellor’s residence protesting against the appointment of Firoze Khan. The protests have been going on against the appointment of Firoze Khan ever since he joined the department. The only reason why his appointment is being opposed is that he is a Muslim. No classes have been held since he joined the faculty on November 7.

Khan recalled that all his life he dedicated himself to the pursuit of Sanskrit and never before was he made to feel as if he had done something wrong by studying it. He is saddened by the fact, that his Muslim identity is being made an issue of and he is not being allowed to teach Sanskrit just due to his religious affiliation. He completed his Shastri(B.A.), B.Ed, Post Graduation and received his Ph.D in2018 from Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, a deemed university of Jaipur. Firoze Khan has also qualified his NET and JRF in Sanskrit. He argues that ever since a young age he has been an avid reader of Sanskrit and nobody had ever made him feel that he was doing something unusual. He says that he does not even know as much about the Quran as he knows about the Sanskrit literature. He also recalled how the prominent Hindus of his neighbourhood appreciated his grasp over the language and encouraged him to carry on his effort. Firoze Khan’s father too is a Sanskrit graduate. 

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The main leader of the protests that are being organised in BHU against the appointment of Firoze Khan is a research student of the Sanskrit department named Krishna Kumar. He and three other fellow students are spearheading the agitation against Khan. Krishna Kumar says, “ If a person is not connected with our culture, how will he be able to understand us and our dharma.”

The BHU has failed to make its students understand that teaching of Sanskrit has nothing to do with the religious affiliations of the teacher.  Students and teachers from some of the other departments at BHU find the protests that have been organised against Firoze Khan completely baseless and agree that religion of the teacher should have nothing to do with the subject he/she teaches. All that should characterise a good teacher is exercise over the discipline and the correct credentials. Khan hopes that in the coming days he is able to change the mentality of the students who oppose his appointment at the department.  


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