From: NewAgeIslamTV | Oct 21, 2011 |
By VIDYA SUBRAHMANIAM
Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kachochavi is the General Secretary of the All-India Ulema & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), a Sufi sect that came from nowhere to take Moradabad — and the Muslim world — by storm last week. Soft-spoken and gentle, with long robes and a flowing beard, he fits the part of the Sufi cleric to perfection.
Yet on stage at the Sufi Maha Panchyat, he roared like a lion, hurling charges against institutions that Muslim intellectuals hold in awe. At the centre of his accusations was the venerated Islamic seminary of Deoband which he held guilty of spreading hard-line Wahabbism: “Hamey Wahabiyon ka na Immamat Quabool hai, na Quayadat Quabul (We reject the religious and political leadership of Wahhabis”). Maulana Kachochavi went on to ask the gathering to rebuff overtures from Wahhabi preachers, saying, “If anyone knocks on your door with the message of extremism, hand him over to the nearest police station.”
The cleric had done the unthinkable and unsurprisingly there was a rush of reactions. Retaliation came swift and strong from the adherents of the Deoband school. The Mohtamim (vice-chancellor) of Darul Uloom Deoband summoned a hurried press conference where he countered the charge and questioned the credentials of the AIUMB. And yet, alongside the loud protests — and blogs that sprang up overnight denouncing the Sufis and calling them non-Muslim — there were also gentler voices urging Muslims dispassionately to examine the message from Moradabad. Interestingly, the Sufi strains were picked up in neighbouring Pakistan with some energetic tweeting of the Moradabad Panchayat news by liberals who saw the Indian challenge to extremism from their own perspective — a perspective of fighting a long and losing battle against intolerance and bigotry.
The AIUMB, which claims to represent, among others, the Sufi Khanquahs of Ajmer Shareef, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Bareilly Shareef, made three broad points at the Maha Panchayat. First, Indian Islam's roots are in peaceful, inclusive Sufi traditions which have historically been followed by the largest numbers (80 per cent according to the AIUMB) in the community. Second, over the years, the Sufis have lost their voice and prominence to hard-line Deobandis who have taken control of key institutions like the Waqf Board and the Madrasas, besides acquiring enormous political clout. Third, influenced by Saudi petro-dollars, the Deoband ideology has slowly morphed into a form of extremist Wahabbism which has taken sections of the young into its vice-like fold. The AIUMB did not directly link the spread of Wahabbism to terrorism but said terrorism drew sustenance from ideologies like Wahabbism and Salafism, etc. At his press briefing, Darul Uloom rector Maulana Qasim Nomani was unsparing of both the AIUMB and the English press that covered the meet. He said no one claiming to be Sufi could use the defamatory language that the AIUMB had used against fellow Muslims. “Why did the English media front-page this news?” he asked.
‘Funds are fully audited'
Later, Maulana Nomani told The Hindu that the Sufis were malcontents out to spread disaffection among Muslims. There was no Saudi influence as Deoband's funds were fully audited and the institution did not accepts grants from any government, domestic or abroad. The Maulana also rebutted the extremism charge, saying Deoband had held a huge anti-terrorism rally on the campus two years ago.
The Urdu press, which all but boycotted the Maha Panachyat and blanked out the speeches made there, however, gave full play to the reactions of Maulana Nomani. There were also individual statements of outrage. Masoom Moradabadi of Jadeed Khabar saw a foreign hand behind the Sufi sect. He also accused the Sufis of presiding over huge sums of money collected at the Dargah for which there were no accounts.
Social activist Tanweer Alam argued that the Sufi sect was welcome to seek political power but it had no business to tarnish Deoband which had played a stellar role in India's freedom struggle. Mr. Alam was furious that the AIUMB saw no difference between Deobandi and Wahhabi ideologies which were themselves in conflict in some areas.”
Islamic scholar Sultan Shahin however fully backed the Sufi conclave saying it marked a milestone in Muslim politics: “It is for the first time that mainstream Ulema have come out so strongly against Wahabbism which is slowly but determinedly spreading in this country.” Mr. Shahin cited the example of Pakistan where extremism not only took liberal lives but toasted and celebrated the killers. “Islam on the subcontinent has always had a syncretic, local flavour. Islam spread in India through the Sufi saints. But all that changed with the infusion of Saudi petro dollars. For me the most worrying example is Pakistan. Everything that happened there a decade ago is happening here today.”
Mr. Shahin admitted that the space for extremism had been created by the Indian State which far from showing sensitivity towards Muslims prematurely accused them of terrorism whenever there was a bomb blast:” When from the very first minute you talk of Muslim suspects when there have also been instances of Hindutva terrorism that would distress any Muslim.” Mr. Shahin was however emphatic that the answer to injustice was not extremism: “You cannot deny that injustice has been done. But if you turn to extremism, you destroy yourself.”
‘Lack of Tolerance'
Faizur Rahman, Secretary-General of the Forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought Among Muslims, attributed the “unnecessary” Sufi controversy to “the lack of tolerance among Muslim organisations for dissent.” He said it was within the Sufi group's Islamic and democratic rights to “censure the so-called Wahhabi school of thought” adding that there was enough evidence in Wahhabi writings and homilies to justify the AIUMB's charges. “There are books of fatwas written by Saudi clerics which contain such abhorrent ruling as those that declare a Muslim who does not pray five times to be a ‘kafir' and say that he must be killed and ‘buried outside the graveyards of the Muslims' if he does not repent.”
But Mr. Rahman was unhappy with the sweeping nature of accusations flowing from Moradabad. He found the charge that Wahhabi hardliners turned up at homes to propagate extremism particularly over-the-top. “There is no evidence for this.”
There is no doubt that the Sufis set the cat among the pigeons last week; they have pitted ideologues against ideologues. But whatever the Sufi group's larger interests, they have done a service by setting the stage for a debate on extremism.
Source: The Hindu, New Delhi
@ Janab Sultan Shahin sahab!!!!Sufi Maha Panchayat denouncing extremism among the Muslim community is welcome. Really we are witnessing extremism breeding in our society which must be stopped.
This is a social disease and found in all the communities be it Hindu or Mulsim or etc. If we talk about sufism we find that it is a part and parcel of both the sects i.e. Barelivis and Deobandis. Sufis inculcating communal harmony in the Indian society deserve appreciation.
I am of the view that extremism is found in all the sects of our community that is to be fought against in a concerted manner. Whatever the so-called and self-styled "sufis" have done in the maha panchayat is nothing but a blame game. This shall bring nothing useful to fight against the menace of extremism. If the wahhabism is blamed for spreading the spirit of violence among its followers, Brailavis do the same thing in their co-followers. Some years back some Brailavi mullahs have ordered to remarry those people who had performed namaz under the imamat of a Deobandi maulavi.
Salman Tasir was brutally murdered by a follower of Barailvism and his criminal act was appreciated by all mullahs. So in my view the menace is found in every sect that is to be fought very skillfully. We never meet with success in winning over the menace with this blame game manner.
Said rightly or wrong, but if it against Quran, Sultan Shahin says aye to it. It is strange that he calls Sufi conglomerate the 'mainstream Ulema'. Has he learned of this word from protagonists of Hindutva? Does he know what Quran says about shirk (associationism)? How come Hindu calls him Scholar? Is he the internet copy paster or has he the knowledge from the originals? Does he realise that even the Mushrikeen of Makkah believed in Allah and still Allah called them Mushrikeen? Or his translators hide the truth from him?
While preaching tolerance, one need not say that all deen are equal. The states calls non citizens as foreigner and give them few rights. Why would the world not call for abolishment of nationality concept? The EU which is a model union does not grant right to vote to everyone save the citizens. This is childish, mockery of understanding and stupidity to call for absolute equality. Allah does not shy of truth. He recognizes and permits differences and asks us to tolerate the different other. But it does not ask us to include our neighbours in inheritance?
If Sufis are main stream Muslims then Sultan Shahin has to read their books about fatwas on every other school of thought and 'sect'. Perhaps he will change his colors or at least his opinion! Regards, Khalid Faridi
PS Has he lost a job in gulf or didn't get the donation for running his New Age Islam? I just wonder!
@raihan, on your comment on grave, Hinduism consider grave as the best place for human to get spirituality due to the following:
Everybody will have to go there. Nobody will accompany anybody there alll are equal. It is applicable to believer and non believer. So please try to learn the lesson what grave yard can give rather than rattling like a child lost in exhibition.
@raihan, a person liberty end at the end of other person's nose. Wahabbism can continue in India as it has allowed various sect to survive for centuries. But the problem is calling the others with derogatory words and creating hatred in the name of religion is what everybody is objecting. Probably they have our neighbour where they are welcome and they can go.
It is a welcome approach of the media that they are appreciating the efforts of Mr Sultan Shahin and others in redifining Islam from a liberal's point of view. Wahabism is also a branch of Islam better than some grave-worshippers sectors in India and non-Islamic faiths. Of course they practice Islam in their own way, it may seem unacceptable to some people, but what is the harm if they, too, flourish in a country like India where various religions such as Hinduism, Budhism, Christianity, Sikhism, Aryas and many other religions are flourishing uninterruptedly. At least they are Muslims, and it should enough to a common Muslim.
While I oppose Wahhabism and believe that its spread in India must be halted, I do not want the Sufi clerics to be the spokespersons for India's Muslims either. I do not know what is their agenda. I would much prefer Islam in India to flourish without any sectarian affiliations.
It is good to see newspapers soliciting comments from people like Sultan Shahin and Faizur Rahman instead of the old standbys such as Imam Bukhari and Maulana Madani.