28 Nov 2015

Hindustan Timesht

Haidar Naqvi

All India Ulema Mashaikh Board, the body that promotes sufism, has urged the clergy to expose the ideologies of Islamic State during their Friday sermons as part of an initiative to prevent people from falling into the trap of the dreaded terror outfit.

To begin with, the clerics associated with the board will base their sermon son Q ur a ni ct ea ching sand hadiths (Prophet’s traditions) to showcase the IS ideology was nothing but sham.

Prominent sufi leader and president of the board Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichochawi said: “Time is high that we expose these terror outfits in the larger interest of humanity. ISIS kills in name of Islam and followers of Islam are expected to rise against them,” he said adding that acts of ISIS and its fighters fall under the category of Ashad Haram, which means severely forbidden in Islam.

“Such a savage terror group using Quran and holy banners has no place in Muslim world,” he said.

Syed Ashraf, who has been espousing a campaign against the ideology of terror groups, had organised ‘a million march’ in Moradabad in 2011 followed by an anti-terror rally attended by 7 lakh people in Rae Bareli in 2013.

This time the board has targeted the clergy to denounce the ISIS and its ideology.

“We are urging the clerics throughout the country to censure ISIS in their Friday sermons and religious gatherings. They should tell people any terror related activities are strongly forbidden in Islam. Their acts are based on mis interpretation of Islam and are largely aimed at serving their evil political agenda,” he said.

The board, he said, was working with several other groups to unite the entire clergy and strategise to wipe off any influence ISIS has on anyone.

“All of us need to look deep into how much wrong interpretation of political Islam has done to us,” he said.

Friday Sermons in Indian Mosques Should Refute The Extremist Theology Of Violence And Xenophobia And Promote Positive, Pluralistic, Inclusive Values Of Islam?

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islamlogo

27 Nov 2015

From countless stories we read emanating from the Muslim world, it is clear that extremist jihadists’ atrocities are putting Muslims’ life in great jeopardy. Their hate-driven interpretations of Islamic fundamentals and doctrines are acting as the root cause for the widespread growth of extremist movements in the name of Islam. It shocks us to see how cunningly the extremist political Islamists join hands with the powerful nations in the world to serve their imperialist designs. It’s not difficult to see why the extremist outfits such as Daesh, al-Shabab and Boko Haram are hell-bent on capturing mosques and vandalising historical heritage which represents Muslims’ peaceful coexistence with other communities and cultures.10385396_891140684239215_575388100414119105_n

In this context, it is quite relevant to know what the moderate, peace-loving and spiritually inclined Islamic clerics and imams are doing to tackle this global threat. Recently, the Indian Sunni-Sufi cleric, Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichhochhawi, founder-president of All India Ulama Mashaikh Board urged the Muslim preachers and clerics, most notably the imams of mosques, to rebut the extremists’ understanding of Islam in their Friday sermons. Speaking from a jurisprudential perspective of Islam, he stated: “The acts of terror perpetrated by the extremist jihadists of the ISIS fall into the category ofashad haram (severely forbidden in Islam). The terror outfits such as ISIS are shedding blood of innocent civilians loudly proclaiming to be ‘Islamists’ and chanting “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the great). Obviously, this has defamed Islam, the religion of peace and tranquillity”. Thus, Syed Muhammad Ashraf, in his recent statement published in Urdu daily Inquilab, appealed to the imams of mosques to categorically denounce and refute the terrorist ideologies in their Friday sermons and other religious talks.

In view of the vital significance of Friday sermons and other khutbas (special religious talks) delivered in mosques, the above statement certainly assumes paramount importance. As a matter of fact, mosques and Islamic religious sermons (khutbas) have been misused by the hate preachers for vested interests and political ends. Therefore, this initiative should have long been taken in India, just as it has happened recently in North African Muslim countries, particularly in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Morocco. Against the backdrop of radical Takfirist sermons echoing in the mosques in the Middle East, this sagacious step has been taken in mosques so that common Muslims could be saved from hate-mongering in the religious domain.

Clearly, any extremist organisation waving Islamic flags and misusing the holy Qur’an such as Daesh have actually no endorsement in the ambit of Islam. Any sort of support, openly or tacitly, to extremist activities through any means completely goes against the basic principles of Islam. But there are still an overwhelming number of mosque preachers who seem to live in denial and hence don’t utter a single word in the rejection of the extremist ideology. Their silence, of course, may be an outcome of their expedience or lack of information. But what about the Prophetic exhortations in which he urged Muslims, particularly the leaders of the Ummah, to stand against the evils at least by tongue or heart? It has clearly been stated in the hadith:

“Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” (Muslim)

Regrettably, majority of our mosques all over the world seem to be captured by hardliners and less progressive Muslims. Having the great consideration for the noble position of an Imam, one would question how many of our imams the world over, strongly and clearly spoke against the extremists’ brazenly un-Islamic atrocities, except for a few moderates among them? Why do we not hear spirited, courageous and unequivocal words from this stratum of Muslim clergy on countering the extremist sermons? While it was their first and foremost duty to refute the hate-filled extremist sermons, they seem to be oblivious to this ground reality.

In any case, Muslims cannot discredit the role of the Imams in educating the common Muslims about the peaceful postulates of Islam. They have been the most important communicators of the Qur’anic messages in mosques and society at large. They can play a pivotal role in the complete eradication of extremist ideology that continues to radicalise many in our society.

At a time when the extremist sermons are delivered in certain mosques with an aim to serve the nefarious political agendas, moderate Imams and Islamic preachers across the world must unite and devise effective strategies to tackle with it. In fact, it’s time they seriously pondered over the radical interpretations of Islamic references that are damaging the gullible minds of Muslim youth. Most urgently, they need to restore the respect for mankind stressing essential humanitarian values in the minds of Muslim masses. In order to emphasise the need and significance of respect for mankind, they may relay numerous Prophetic sayings such as: “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you. The womb is derived from the Merciful, so whoever keeps relations with his family then Allah will keep relations with him, and whoever abandons his family then Allah will abandon him.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi 1924).

However, there should be no disparity between the Sunni and Shiite imams in their pronouncements against the religious extremism. The Daesh (ISIS) terrorists have killed dozens of Sunni imams who refused to swear allegiance to them, while, on the other hand, they slaughtered the Shia community indiscriminately. It is about time the imams told their followers that these terrorists are violating the tenets of both Sunni and Shiite schools of thought. They have to make it clear, unambiguously and unequivocally, that the nefarious version of faith espoused by the ISIL, ISISI, Boko Haram, Taliban, al-Qaida and other Takfiri terrorists is a renewed version of the Khariji-Wahhabi ideology, antithetical to the mainstream Islamic faith. Ironically, while the IS terrorists vehemently and openly reject all the four major and canonised Islamic jurisprudential schools, the media ignoramuses call them “Sunni terrorists”.

It is indeed gratifying to see that both Shi’ite and Sunni Sufi leaders in India have jointly called for national unity to counter sectarian violence of these takfiri terrorists. Certainly, it will help the independent analysts understand that the dangerous radicals within Muslims are neither the Sunnis nor the Shiites, but rather a cult of the Wahhabi Takfirists.


Undoubtedly, we cannot successfully eradicate the cancer of extremism from the Muslim world, unless we engage the imams of both Sunni and Shiite mosques in this gigantic task. They have an acute grip over the Muslim community and hence they can better prevent the Muslim youth from falling prey to the ideological misguidance. There can be no better and more influential actors than the imams who get exposed to the community members to redress religious issues of their concern. Therefore, they have to be trained by the expert Islamic scholars and intelligentsia to tackle the religious extremists who try to recruit innocent worshippers.


To start with this task, they would better deliver Friday sermons backing law and order machinery of the country as much as our composite, inclusive culture, while speaking out against radicalisation. Besides educating the worshippers about the essential Islamic teachings and moral virtues, they should be addressing issues of moderation and extremism, national unity, social integrity, women’s rights, education system, youth issues, the rights of non-Muslims or even atheists and non-believers in an attempt to guide them on a right and moderate track. Most importantly, they should focus on societal reforms in their sermons urging the worshippers to avoid ideological extremism and uphold moderate views.


Unfortunately, most imams in India come from weaker family and education backgrounds and are unequipped to tackle the current issues of national and global concern due to lack of the required skills and sophistication. But still, they may influence modern and educated Muslims with moderate thoughts based on the primary Islamic studies. They must incorporate in their sermons the guiding peaceful Qur’anic paradigms, pluralistic Prophetic traditions and harmonious jurisprudential injunctions in an attempt to transform the present-day intolerant mindsets into an inclusive Islamic bent of mind. In a word, they need a major overhaul of their sermon designs with an incorporation of the true moderate Islamic views. That can effectively run down the extremist thoughts in the Muslim religious domain.


Muslim clerics and Imams should unveil the faces of extremists in the Friday sermons: Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichhouchhwi

10385396_891140684239215_575388100414119105_n“The terror outfits such as ISIS are shedding blood of innocent civilians loudly proclaiming to be Islamists and chanting “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the great). Obviously, this has defamed Islam, the religion of peace and tranquillity. The acts of terror perpetrated by the extremist fighters of the ISIS fall into the category of Ashad Haram (severely forbidden in Islam)”.

These views were expressed by the Sunni-Sufi leader in India, Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichhochhawi, founder president of All India Ulama Mashaikh Board in his most recent press release. Syed Muhammad Ashraf further said that “any extremist organisation waving Islamic flags and misusing the holy Qur’an such as Daesh have actually no endorsement in the ambit of Islam. They are nothing but terror outfits which are tarnishing the image of Islam in the very name of Islam.”

He appealed to the Muslim clerics, particularly imams of mosques to categorically denounce and refute the terrorist ideologies in their Friday sermons and other religious talks. He said that any open or tacit support to extremist activities through any means is forbidden according to the basic principles of Islam and that their extremist interpretations of Islam are only aimed at serving their nefarious political agendas. Syed Muhammad Ashraf appealed to the Mosque Imams and Muslim preachers across the nation to unite against terrorism and devise new strategies to tackle, eradicate and refute terrorism and its ideologies. He said: “It’s time for us to seriously ponder over the radical interpretations of political Islam and the damages it has done to Muslims across the world since its inception.”

Addressing the mosques’ imams and Islamic clergy, he said: “we need to restore the respect for mankind instilling essential humanitarian values in the minds of people, particularly Muslim masses”. Stressing the need and significance of respect for mankind, Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichhochhawi quoted a Prophetic saying: “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you. The womb is derived from the Merciful, so whoever keeps relations with his family then Allah will keep relations with him, and whoever abandons his family then Allah will abandon him.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi 1924).

जुमे के खुतबे में सभी इमामे जुमा दहशतगर्दों को बेनकाब करें: सैय्यद मोहम्मद अशरफ़ किछौछवी

नई दिल्ली।MainLogo

सैय्यद मोहम्मद अशरफ़ किछौछवी (सदर ऑल इण्डिया ओलमा व मशाइख बोर्ड) ने कहा कि दाइश जैसी दहशतगर्द तन्ज़ीमों के दहशतगर्द अल्लाहोअकबर जैसा मुक़द्दस नारा लगा कर  बेगुनाहों का खून बहा रहे हैं। जिनकी वजह से पूरी दुनिया में अम्न, शान्ति और पीस का मज़हब दीने इस्लाम बदनाम हो रहा है। किछौछवी ने कहा कि दहशतगर्द तन्ज़ीमें जहां एक तरफ़ इस्लाम की बदनामी का सबब बनी हुई हैं, वहीं ये इंसानियत, अम्न और हमारे प्यारे वतन हिन्दुस्तान की भी कट्टर दुश्मन हैं।ImameZuma expose all the extremists in Friday's Khutba: Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhochhvi
सदर ऑल इण्डिया ओलमा व मशाइख बोर्ड की जानिब से उन्होंने कहा कि दाइश के दहशतगर्द क्योंकि अपने हाथों में ला-इलाहा इल्लल्लाह और मोहम्मदुर रसूल अल्लाह जैसा मुकद्दस कलमा लिखा हुआ झण्डा और आख़री आसमानी किताब कु़रआने मजीद दिखा कर यह बता रहे हैं कि वह इस्लामी खिलाफ़त क़ायम करना चाहते हैं और वह जो कुछ कर रहे हैं वह जिहाद है।
इन दहशतगर्दों की काली करतूतों की वजह से मुसलमानों का मुक़द्दस कलमा ला-इलाहा इल्लल्लाह मोहम्मर्दुरसूल अल्लाह (स.अ.), अल्लाहतआला की भेजी हुई मुक़द्दस किताब कु़रआने मजीद और अल्लाहतआला का पसन्दीदा दीन, दीने इस्लाम पूरी दुनिया में बदनाम हो रहा है इसलिए बहैसियत मुसलमान हर एक मुसलमान की जि़म्मेदारी है कि ऐसे वक़्त में वह खामोश न रहे बल्कि जिस तरह से भी हो सके इनको बेनकाब करके अपने दीन और मुल्क की हिफ़ाज़त करे।
दाइश के झूठे प्रोपेगन्डे से मुतास्सिर होकर भोले-भाले नवजवानों को भी बहकने का ख़तरा बढ़ गया है। इसलिए ओलमाये केराम की जि़म्मेदारी है कि वह भी जगह-जगह इस फि़क्र को बेनकाब करके अपनी शरई और दीनी जि़म्मेदारी अदा करें।
इस फि़क्र को शि‍कस्त देने का आसान तरीक़ा ये है कि सभी मस्जिदों के इमाम, जुमे के दिन अपने-अपने खुतबे में दाइश जैसी दहशतगर्द तन्ज़ीमों, दहशतगर्दी फि़क्र को पैदा करने वाली किताबों, इदारों या उनकी किसी भी तरह से मदद करने वालों को बेनकाब करें। क्योंकि ऐसा करना ही दीने इस्लाम, इंसानियत और मुल्क की सच्ची खिदमत है अगर लगातार जुमे के खुतबे में इमामे जुमा इस काम को अन्जाम देंगे तो इंशाअल्लाह हमारा प्यारा वतन इस्लाम को बदनाम करने वाली इस दहशतगर्दी फि़क्र से महफ़ूज़ रहेगा। क्योंकि ऐसा करना दीन, मुल्क और इंसानियत की सच्ची खिदमत है इसलिए पूरे हिन्दुस्तान के इमामे जुमा हज़रात से मेरी गुज़ारिश है कि वह अपने जुमा के खुतबे में दाइश जैसी फि़क्र को मुसलसल बेनकाब करें।


The sufi solution

Mayank Austen Soofilogo43

Fri, Feb 03 2012. (Archive)

On entering, the white dome attracts your attention. It’s not the architecture or the gold centrepiece at its top. Nor the birds circling it. This dome seems to shape and consecrate every moment of this place. The fakirs (ascetics) near the ablution pool face it. So do the pilgrims in the marble courtyards. The Khwaja’s tomb is directly below.

The heart of Sufism: Pilgrims carrying flowers for Moinuddin Chishti.

Four months later, when Rajasthan’s desert winter has given way to the heat of June, the dargah will be filled with lamps. Its assembly hall, resounding with the sound of the qawwals’ harmoniums, will herald the 800th urs of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer. Smaller groups of musicians will draw their own listeners within the various courtyards and sama (a gathering listening to mystical verse) music will echo in the streets. The terraces surrounding thedargah will come alive with their own qawwali gatherings and the last melodic strains will die only when the early morning prayer is called by the muezzin.

As the cliché about the intolerant Muslim refuses to go away, as Sufism remains anathema to a section of Muslims, what is the significance of South Asia’s most important Sufi shrine?
“The 800th urs is taking place in a troubled world where the religious discourse has been hijacked by the rhetoric of rage,” says Syed Salman Chishti, a khadim (caretaker) whose family has served at the 13th century shrine for generations. “The world must turn its attention to Ajmer, where people from different faiths gather in one assembly to share and not to impose their beliefs.”
The world instead turned its attention to a city 120km from Ajmer, where a protest by a handful of Muslims compelled the organizers of the Jaipur Literature Festival to cancel novelist Salman Rushdie’s video appearance last month. While all practising Muslims this reporter talked to expressed discomfort with Rushdie’s references to Islam in his banned novel The Satanic Verses, many pointed out that his case must not be used to judge the Muslim character and that the essence of India’s Islam lies in Ajmer.

The gold crown at the dome was offered by a brother of the nawab of Rampur in 1896.

“Moinuddin Chishti’s dwelling place became a nucleus for the Islamization of the central and southern parts of India,” noted the late Annemarie Schimmel, an expert on Islam, in her book Mystical Dimensions of Islam. South Asia’s most revered Muslim, Moinuddin Chishti occupies a principal position in Sufism, the mystical aspect of Islam. He established the Chishti silsila (order) in the subcontinent; its spiritual successors were Sufis like Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki of Mehrauli, Baba Farid of Pakpattan in Pakistan, and Hazrat Nizamuddin of Delhi. Known as Sultan-e-Hind and Gharib Nawaz, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti—khwaja meaning “master” in Persian—is visited by millions each year. Since no contemporary account of him has survived, Moinuddin Chishti’s life is depicted through a series of legends.

He died in 1236. The death anniversary of a Sufi saint’s death is not mourned, it is celebrated. Urs means “wedding” in Arabic and it symbolizes the union of the lover with the beloved, who is God.
“The 800th milestone doesn’t signify much in our religion but it lets us pause to commemorate the central place of Gharib Nawaz in the idea of India,” says film-maker Muzaffar Ali, who will present the 10th edition of his annual Jahan-e-Khusrau Sufi music concert in Delhi in March. “In a multi-ethnic, multicultural, multi-religious country, nothing could be more relevant than Gharib Nawaz’s message of love.”
“Ajmer is the little Medina,” says Sadia Dehlvi, author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. “Sufism is about making linkages to God through his friends. In Medina, there is the spiritual presence of Prophet Muhammad. In Ajmer, one experiences the same closeness to God, for Khwaja sahib is a direct descendant and lover of the Prophet,” says Dehlvi.
Outside Ajmer, the news from the world of Sufis is not only about sama, fana a(dissolution) or the chartbuster film song Kun Fayakun. “We can no longer keep ourselves inside our dargahs,” says Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kachochavi, the general secretary of the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), which was formed in 2005 and claims to represent the majority of Muslims in India. Last year, it held four Sufi Maha Panchayats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that were attended by hundreds of thousands of people, according to news reports. “We are telling India’s non-Muslims that the people the media and the government treat as spokespersons of our community, are not our leaders. Those who issue fatwas from seminaries like Deoband are inspired by extremists.”
South Asia’s Islamic community is largely composed of the Barelvis and Deobandis, both named after towns in Uttar Pradesh. The former, who have their theological school in Bareilly, are followers of Sufism, while the orthodox jurists in Deoband are against the concept of intercession to God through saints. In November, Deoband passed afatwa against celebrating the Prophet’s birthday, calling it un-Islamic, an occasion traditionally held with great fanfare in Ajmer and other dargahs.

Ajmer dargah caretaker Syed Salman Chishti (right) with calligrapher Abdul Qayyum Saharanpuri.

“Considering that these orthodox seminaries are opposed to the dargahs,” says Dehlvi, “one only has to look at the sheer number of Muslims from India’s villages and towns who descend on Ajmer, particularly during urs, to recognize how irrelevant they (the orthodox seminaries) really are. Their fatwas have little or no relevance in the community.”

“While it’s incorrect to say that our fatwashave no influence you should note that we don’t issue them on our own,” says Maulana Qari Syed Mohammad Usman, the hadith (the sayings of the Prophet) teacher at Deoband and president of the political party Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind. “We only give one if somebody asks for clarification on a certain matter. We don’t take any action if thefatwa is ignored.”
Explaining Deoband’s stand on Sufism, Usman says: “In Islam, there is only Islam, no Sufism. We don’t mind if people go to tombs to recite fatiha (prayer for the departed souls) but we are against the dargah traditions, especially on attending urs festivals. Spend your time thinking of Allah, not listening to qawwalis.”
“The Deobandis subscribe to a more textual analysis of the Quran,” says historian Mushirul Hasan, the author of Islam in the Subcontinent: Muslims in a Plural Society. “Barelvis take a more eclectic view and have practices that can be described as composite. Their daily life is closer to the customs of other Indian communities. If you go by the population, Barelvis both in India and Pakistan are greater in numbers. But Deobandis are politically better organized and so are more visible in the public space.”
“Sometimes even Deobandis come here to seek the Khwaja’s blessing,” says Syed Anwar-ul-Haq Chishti, an elderly khadim sitting cross-legged in the Ajmer dargah. A long queue is forming for the sunset ceremony of Dua-e-Roshni (prayer of lights). Each evening as khadims carry large yellow candles to the durbar, the tomb-chamber, hundreds of birds suddenly land on the branches of the mursali tree. Little else is heard in the courtyard except for their chirping. As the drummer strikes, the candles are lit amid the chanting of a Persian invocation to Gharib Nawaz, acknowledging him as the foremost friend of God on the face of the earth.
“Ajmer Sharif is the extension of what I am,” says film-maker Mahesh Bhatt. “Being the son of a Shiite mother and a Brahmin father, my biological construct is a union of Muslim and Hindu cultures. There are more Hindus visiting the dargah than Muslims. It is the Khwaja’s wide appeal that has kept his cult going.”
In 2011, some of the celebrities who visited the dargah included actors Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Priyanka Chopra, producer Ekta Kapoor, cricketers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Zaheer Khan.

The Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra mosque.

While the aforementioned list might reflect a present-day curiosity for Sufism, throughout its history Ajmer has been a star attraction. The Mughals, particularly, attributed their success in India to the blessings of Moinuddin Chishti. Emperor Akbar visited the dargah 14 times, once walking all the way from Agra. Jehangir lived in Ajmer for almost three years. Shah Jahan built a marble mosque in the dargah. Princess Jahanara raised the marble porch Begumi Dalaan (Begum’s courtyard), opposite the entrance to the durbar. Even the orthodox Aurangzeb, who did not believe in the Sufi doctrine, was seen paying his respects at this dargah.

In 1911, when Delhi was established as British India’s new capital, Queen Mary passed through the pilgrim town, paying for the restoration of the ablution pool.
On 11 October 2007, during Ramzan, a bomb exploded below the same mursali tree. Three people died. The alleged suspects were first thought to be Islamic extremists and later, Hindu.
“The aim was to oppose the stream of thought on which Ajmer is built,” says Bhatt. “The idea of the Other is not a threat in the Khwaja’s dargah, which is like a garden where the rose is not frightened of the mogra. Both have a distinct fragrance and together they make the scent.”
As the winter sun sets behind the barren Aravalli hills, the marble floor gets cold.Qawwals sit facing the durbar; some listeners look lost, others gaze at the dome. Among the devotees, the Kashmiris stand out in their loosely hanging pherans. A woman in a red sari has her hands folded in prayer. She is sobbing.
Although people of all religions visit Ajmer Sharif, its daily rituals revolve around the five mandatory prayers of Muslims. This is not surprising since Moinuddin Chishti was one of the pioneers of Islamic mysticism in the subcontinent. His arrival from central Asia in 1192 coincided with the conquest of India by Muhammed of Ghor, who defeated Prithviraj Chauhan, one of the last Hindu kings to rule Delhi. After settling in Ajmer, a Hindu pilgrimage town close to the holy lake of Pushkar, Moinuddin Chishti won the respect of both believers and non-believers. He lived in the cell in which he lies buried. The tomb is built over a series of cellars which, according to The Shrine and Cult of Mu’in al-din Chishti of Ajmer by P.M. Currie, might have formed part of an earlier temple.
“Before reaching Ajmer”, says Raza Rumi, a writer and political analyst from Pakistan, “Moinuddin meditated in Lahore for 40 days at Data Darbar, the shrine of Usman Hajvery. Gharib Nawaz consequently is cherished in Pakistan and hundreds of Pakistanis visit his dargah.” India issues special visas to Pakistanis for the urs.

The bazaar outside the dargah.

Fifteen minutes away from the dargah is the majestic Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra mosque situated in the foothills of Taragarh. One of South Asia’s earliest Islamic structures, its outer walls are sculptured with theKalimah (“the word of Islam”). The monument, now overlaid with graffiti, includes crude sketches of peacocks on the stone floor. Indifferent to the discords of the past, goats meander along with pilgrims who stray from the dargah to sightsee. Only a few offer prayers at the mosque here.

“The majority of Indian Muslims were Hindus,” says Dehlvi, “and accepted Islam because of Gharib Nawaz and the Sufis who spread his message. The Khwaja allowed his followers to express the love of God through inclusive traditions such as music. This sanction gave birth to diverse devotional expressions that thrive to this day.” The food cooked in the dargah’s giant copper cauldrons, distributed after the morning and evening prayers, is always vegetarian.
Rumi says, “The Chishti school of Sufism did not exclude any religion and gave way to a plural Indian identity. This is why the extremists in Pakistan, especially the Taliban, are against such devotional practices.” In 2010, the dargah of Baba Farid in Pakistan, another saint of this Sufi order, was bombed.
As with most places in India, the bazaar in front of the dargah is a world of contrasts. Immaculately dressed men in crisp white salwar-kurta walk beside open drains. Beggars line the road that leads to the shrine of the patron of the poor. The alm-seekers might not have money for clothes but their bowls are filled with chameli garlands. Plastic flowers decorate the tongas that go as far as the Khwaja’s chillah, the hilltop cave where he meditated. Overlooking the Ana Sagar lake, the chillah is deserted. Cats prowl beside tombs. A stall offers amulets and booklets on Ajmer Sharif.
After the night prayers, while the qawwals are rendering verses in the courtyard, the worshippers are asked to leave the durbar, which is then cleaned by three khadims with brooms made of peacock feathers. As the last functionary comes out of the chamber, everyone gets up and the qawwals recite Karka, a musical verse in Persian, Sanskrit and Brij. The Khwaja’s chamber is locked until the pre-dawn prayer.

The basant festival being celebrated in Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah last month.

During urs, the durbar is closed at a later hour. One week earlier, a green and red flag is hoisted on the Buland Darwaza gateway to signal the arrival of the festival. By thenmalangs (non-conformist Sufis), fakirs (ascetics) and qalandar s (non-conformist Sufis) from all over India are midway to Ajmer, walking. They assemble at thedargah of Khwaja Qutubuddin Kaki in Mehrauli, Delhi and from there walk to Ajmer Sharif, a journey that takes 17 days.

The nine-day urs begins after the sunset prayers, for the Islamic day changes at the twilight hour. Attending it is not easy. Ajmer is packed far beyond its capacity. The lanes overflow with a sea of humanity. People queue for hours to enter the durbar to touch the Khwaja’s tomb. From large hotels to roadside guesthouses, every place is occupied. Verandas too are taken over by beds.
For the Qul, the prayer on the final day of urs, every roof and window is taken over by crowds jostling to get a view of the crammed dargah. It is as if all of Ajmer is resounding with prayer.
Though the town gets back its breathing space a day later, the crowd at the dargahnever dissipates. Divided by religions and countries, the devotees of the Khwaja, spread across South Asia and beyond, challenge these rifts each time they come to his durbar.

Rajasthan Authorities Favor Barelvis, Rejecting Wahhabi Infiltrators

by Stephen Schwartz
Folksmagazine [India]logo (1)
December 20, 2011 (Archive)
On December 5, The Hindu, a major national daily, reported an important step forward in Indian Muslim relations with state governments. According to the newspaper, authorities in Rajasthan, on India’s western frontier with Pakistan, have appointed representatives of the Barelvi sect, a traditionalist Sunni interpretation imbued with spiritual Sufism, to the leadership of several Muslim institutions. In doing so, The Hindu reports, Rajasthan effectively barred radical Islamist agitators from directing local communal bodies, and has followed the lead of the central government, which is controlled by the Indian National Congress-led United Progressive Alliance.
A prominent Barelvi, Maulana Fazl-e-Haq, who is affiliated with the Madrasa Ishaqiya of Jodhpur, will head the state’s Madrasa Board, with responsibility for administration of Islamic religious education. He is a disciple of the aged Sufi Hazrat Allama Pirzada Maulana Chaman Qadri. Hazrat Chaman Qadri, of Gyarwee Sharif Jalsa Bundi, is a leading figure in the Qadiri Sufi order (tariqat), one of the largest and oldest in the Muslim world. Chaman Qadri is also the chief qazi (head Islamic judge) in Rajasthan and a member of the Hajj Committee and other Muslim institutions.
The Rajasthan Urdu Akademi, charged with development of Urdu culture among the state’s Muslims, will be supervised by Habib-ur-Rehman Niyazi, from the Barelvi family of Meerji Ka Bagh. The Rajasthan Public Service Commission will now include Indian Police Service officer Habib Khan, a Barelvi. The new chairman of the State Minorities Commission, M. Mahir Azad, is known as a Sufi sympathizer. Previously, Rajasthan had appointed Liaqat Ali, a devotee of a Sufi shrine in the district of Jhunjhunu, to the local Waqf Board, with oversight over Islamic pious foundations.
In the analysis of The Hindu, Rajasthan’s Muslim apparatus will not encompass representatives of Darul Uloom Deoband, the fundamentalist seminary in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) disseminating the doctrines that inspire the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban. Deobandism, imitating the intolerant habits of Saudi Wahhabism, declares Barelvism to bekufr (“disbelief” – literally, “concealment of the truth of religion”), and Deobandis seek to render Barelvis vulnerable to murder and pillage. Deobandis are aligned with the jihadist Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) movement founded by Abu’l Ala Mawdudi, and Deobandism produced the worldwide Islamist missionary organization, Tabligh-i-Jamaat (TJ).
Darul Uloom Deoband has invited to India such representatives of the Saudi Wahhabi sect as Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais, Friday preacher and imam at the Grand Mosque (Haram) in Mecca. Al-Sudais, who is banned from entering Canada because of his hateful diatribes, visited Darul Uloom Deoband and New Delhi in March 2011.
The Rajasthan state government’s naming of Barelvis to Muslim community positions is described by The Hindu as reflecting “an atmosphere building up all over [India]” against Wahhabi extremism, Deobandi influence, and the penetration of their advocates in Muslim institutions. The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has been a particular arena for conflict over Wahhabi and Deobandi intrigues.

All-India Ulema and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) general secretary, Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichowchhwi, head of the Sufi shrine of Kachhochha Sharif, in Faizabad.
A frontline role in opposing Wahhabi and Deobandi growth among Indian Muslims has been taken by the All-India Ulema and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) and its general secretary, Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichowchhwi, head of the Sufi shrine of Kachhochha Sharif, in Faizabad, U.P. AIUMB claims to represent 80 percent of Indian Muslims, and has called for cooperation between Sunnis and Shias in the Islamic fold. Maulana Kichowchhwi and AIUMB have organized an extensive campaign to expose and condemn Wahhabi and Deobandi fanaticism and the danger it poses to Indian Muslims, the whole country, and all of humanity.
In 2010, Kichowchhwi and the AIUMB demanded that Muslims “liberate” 10,000 mosques, madrasas, shrines, and other Islamic institutions in U.P. from Wahhabi-Deobandi control. In October 2011, AIUMB called a mahapanchayat with the participation of 100,000 Muslims in Moradabad, U.P. that underscored the board’s repudiation of radicalism.
In November 2011, Darul Uloom Deoband issued a fatwa condemning all celebration of birthdays as a Western and un-Islamic custom, as reported in The Hindu of November 10 by Vidya Subrahmaniam. Darul Uloom Vice-Chancellor Abul Qasim Naumani emphasized that the seminary does not honor the Prophet Muhammad’s birth, or milad-an-nabi – a practice hated by Wahhabis. Muhammad’s birthday is an official holiday in 54 Muslim countries – but not in Saudi Arabia, where it may be celebrated only in private. It is a recognized national holiday in India, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Guyana, Kenya, Tanzania, and other states with significant Muslim minorities. By defining such observance as un-Islamic, Deobandis would expel the Barelvis, as well as hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world, from the global Muslim community or ummah, targeting them as alleged “apostates.”
Maulana Kichowchhwi responded to the Deobandi fatwa prohibiting milad-an-nabi by announcing, “The fatwa is proof that Deoband would like to impose the foreign ideology of Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism on India.” He cited classic Islamic scholars’ evidence that Muhammad celebrated his own birthday. According to Kichowchhwi, Indian Muslims always participated in “Julus-e-Mohammadi” commemorations of the Prophet’s birthday.
Deobandi representatives have assailed Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and the Congress party for favoring the Barelvis and Sufis. The Rajasthan Muslim Forum, a Deobandi group, alleged that the Rajasthan government seeks to create “sectarian discord” among Muslims, supposedly to conceal the involvement of Congress in communal violence between Muslims and non-Muslims. M. Salim Engineer, national secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JEIH), the Indian branch of the Mawdudist JEI, argued that a majority of madrasas in Rajasthan incorporate the Deobandi curriculum. But there as in U.P., the Barelvi representatives say that Islamic schools have been usurped by the radicals.
AIUMB has taken its message to Indian Muslims outside U.P. On November 20, AIUMB national secretary Syed Babar Ashraf met with other Sunni Sufi leaders to address a peace conference in Murshidabad, West Bengal, attended by 1,000 Islamic scholars and an audience in the tens of thousands. He was joined by Shahnawas Warsi, national secretary of the Muslim Students Organization of India (MSO); Allama Ziaul Mustafa Qadri of the All-India Sunni Jamiatul Ulema, a Barelvi group; Maulana Shoaib Raza, from Bareilly Shareef in U.P., and Ghulam Samdani Razvi, Grand Mufti of West Bengal. Bareilly Shareef was the birthplace of Ahmed Raza Khan Fazil-e-Barelvi (1856-1921), the main theological figure in Barelvi Islam, and is the location of his shrine.

Dargah of Hazrat Ahmed Raza Khan, Bareilly Shareef — Photograph 2004 Via Wikimedia Commons.
MSO’s Murshidabad convocation, according to the U.S.-based Indian Muslim news portal, endorsed the disapproval of the AIUMB, with which MSO is aligned, regarding the financing of Indian Muslim institutions by Saudi Wahhabis. It appealed for the establishment of a central madrasa board to monitor foreign funding of religious schools; high-quality, modern schools in districts with large minority populations; removal of extremists from waqf administration, and the adoption of legislation governing Sufi shrines (dargahs) to protect and operate them according to moderate Sunni principles.
On November 27, in Bareilly Shareef, as described by Times News Network (TNN) writer Manya Gugliani, 250,000 Muslims heard Maulana Kichowchhwi and other AIUMB leaders similarly denounce Wahhabism and defend Sufi tolerance in Indian Islam. At Bareilly’s Islamia Inter College, Kichowchhwi reiterated the need for the central government to establish a central madrasa board that would audit the flow of Saudi funds to Islamic schools in India. AIUMB national secretary Syed Babar Ashraf warned, “Right now the madrasas are under the control of Wahhabi-inspired organizations which run on Saudi money. The ideology they teach and spread is hardline Wahhabism.”
Kichowchhwi extended his criticism of Saudi Wahhabism and South Asian Deobandism to include “Salafis,” who use this title, referring to emulators of the first three generations of Muslims including Muhammad, his Companions, and his Successors, to camouflage their adherence to Wahhabi doctrines. He additionally reproached “Ahle-Hadith,” another term employed in South Asia to cover Wahhabi intentions. Maulana called specifically on the Indian central government to prevent the assumption by any representative of these trends of duties as a chairman, chief executive officer, member or manager of any waqf in India. “They are utilizing Waqf properties to propagate Wahhabism, which preaches hate and intolerance and now has become a threat to the country’s secular fabric,” he said.
Other speakers at the Bareilly event stressed, as elements of the inclusive character of Sufism, their pledge to Muslim unity and their perseverance in the Sufi custom of inviting non-Muslims to pray in their shrines. The Bareilly meeting was held on the third anniversary of the massive terrorist attack in Mumbai, which is believed to have been coordinated by the Kashmir-centered Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) with the complicity of the Pakistani authorities. As described by Rakhi Chakrabarty on TNN, Maulana Kichowchhwi used the occasion to affirm that the accused in the Mumbai massacre “must be given harshest punishment as per the law so that it serves as a deterrent. It should send a strong message to terrorists that our law is not weak.”
While Deobandi representatives accuse the Indian central government of using the Barelvis as a counter to Deobandism, AIUMB officials do not profess false modesty – rather, they see the consequential action in Rajasthan state as a product of AIUMB’s committed defiance of Wahhabi corruption and Deobandi extremism. If the Indian central government has decided to assist the Barelvis in shaking the Wahhabis, Deobandis, “Salafis,” “Ahle-Hadith” and other extreme fundamentalists out of Indian Muslim community institutions, that is a cause for congratulation, not complaint, to India’s political class. In the aftermath of the upheavals of the “Arab Spring,” movements for civil society and secular governance in the North African countries have been pushed aside by the Muslim Brotherhood, which allied historically with the Saudi Wahhabis and South Asian Mawdudists, and which triumphed in the recent Tunisian, Moroccan, and Egyptian elections.
Further, in a particularly alarming development, a mass Wahhabi formation (using, as elsewhere, the false “Salafi” label), the “Party of the Light” or “Hizb Al-Nur,” received 25 percent of votes in the first round of Egypt’s polling. A similar, if not worse, outcome is expected from the second round of Egyptian balloting, which was held on December 14-15 amid violent protests against the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Its results have yet to be released.
The “Arab Spring,” with its early, liberalizing idiom, was expected to strengthen civil society in the Arab Muslim lands, and was greeted with considerable enthusiasm by moderate Muslims as well as by Western partisans of democratic change. The effect of free electoral choice in North Africa has so far been very different, to say nothing of the chaos in Yemen, cold stalemate between Sunni rulers (backed by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council) and the Shia majority in Bahrain, and continuing hideous massacres by the Al-Assad regime in Syria. The “Arab Spring” was believed to herald the end of the cycle of radical Islamist gains that began with the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979, and which, outside the Middle East, has devastated Pakistan.
Significant obstruction to Wahhabi aggression now appears in the peripheral Muslim communities, including the Balkans no less than India. Calling itself “the world’s largest democracy” and possessing the third largest Muslim population in the world, India has produced a stiffer resistance to radicalism than any of the lands of the “Arab Spring.” If Egypt and Syria are bulwarks of extremism and tyranny, Indian Islam may provide a barrier to jihadist ambitions. With their widely-respected intellectual heritage, their close link with spiritual Sufism, and their demonstrated loyalty to India, the country’s Muslims have shown the world that Western governments are wrong to accommodate radical Islam. Now we hear in the U.S. and Britain, from government in the first instance and media commentators in the second, that the Muslim Brotherhood is “moderate” in its program and that the so-called “Salafis” in Egypt are merely “conservative.” Ordinary Muslims from the Balkans to Bengal have expressed their disagreement with this benign view.
India need not repeat a mistaken strategy of accommodation to the Wahhabis and their disciples. Maulana Kichowchhwi and the AIUMB deserve the strong backing of India’s moderates and non-violent religious conservatives, Muslim and non-Muslim, in confronting the encroachments of Islamist zealotry. The effect of religious and political hindrance to the Wahhabi “revival” will be felt throughout the large Indian Muslim diaspora, and its example may be seen and equaled by other Muslim communities, as well as Muslim and non-Muslim governments. The decision of the Rajasthan state government, which, on the Pakistan border, faces a risk greater than in U.P. or West Bengal, is especially important.
A struggle that may have been lost in Egypt and Pakistan may be won in India. And as India’s Muslims go, so may the entire ummah develop in its relations with secular governance.

Wahabi ideology is a threat to India’s internal security: AIUMB

Monday, July 1st, 2013 by Online Editorlogo (1)

Lucknow Jul 01 (Only Kashmir/TCN): The Wahabi/Salafi fire that has engulfed Afghanistan and Pakistan will not be allowed to burn India, said Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhvi addressing eighth annual meeting of All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) held today at Rudauli.

Kicchhowchhvi who is the president of AIUMB said in addition to importing oil from Saudi Arabia, India is also being a recipient of the Wahabi ideology. “This ideology is detrimental to our internal security, national harmony and ethos,” argued Kichhowchhvi.

Kuchhowchhvi directly attacked Jamiat Ahle Hadith as the organization that is getting funded by Saudi Arabia to spread the “extremism.”

The AIUMB board has long demanded removal of Wahabi caretakers of khaanqaahs and dargahs.

Gaddinasheen of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah in Ajmer Syed Mehdi Miyan Chishti said that Sufism has deep roots in India and the conspiracy to weaker it never be allowed to succeed. “Devotees from all over the world come to Ajmer because they have deep respect for Sufism, some people are trying to attack the devotion that people have. This is not just an issue of Indian Sunni Muslims but an issue that affects the nation and the humanity,” said Chishti.

Board also objected to the visits of Imams of Harmain visits to India. They said Imams are being used to setup an extremist Wahabi leadership in India.

AIUMB’s Uttar Pradesh’s president and Sajjadanasheen of Khanqah Rudauli Shareef Shah Ammar Ahmad Ahmadi Nayyar Miyan demanded adequate representation of Indian Muslims in state government’s policies.

Board’s Mufti Syed Waseem Ashraf said India should be cautious about her relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Board also discussed and approved a draft will that can be used by Muslims who want to give their property to waqf. This will have provisions to make sure that Sufi practices continue to be performed.

Others who participated in the meeting were Syed Shahid Chishti from Ajmer, Qari Ayub from Muzaffarpur, Maulana Noorani from Srinagar, Haji Yunus Solanki from Vadodra, Syed Faraz Ahmad Aamri from Delhi.

A Muslim organization pledges loyalty to PM Narendra Modi

September 2, 2015Fearless-Indian-1

A Muslim Sufi organization has pledged its fealty to Prime Minster Narendra Modi. The All Indian Ulema and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), has pledged to work with the Prime Minister on countering terrorism and eradicating extremist ideology from the country.

Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhawi, founder and president of AIUMB, said

The AIUMB will help prepare the syllabus for such open education centres in Muslim areas where peaceful religious courses are taught. We (Sufi Muslims) are against terrorism and consider it against Islam. We cannot support anything that is unIslamic.

He further added,

Sufism is a way of life and is above religion. It stands for peace. Wherever Sufi ideology got weakened, terrorism grew. The example is Kashmir.”

Kichhowchhawi had led a team of about 40 Sufi clerics, who interacted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The PM had told the delegation that ideology propounded by Sufi saints was integral to Indian ethos but forces of extremism are trying to weaken it. He had asked them to counter such forces through various avenues including on social media, so that the ideology of extremism does not take root in India.

After the meeting the AIUMB was all praise for the Prime Minister and claimed that none of the other previous leaders of the country have never truly realized the potential of Sufism.

Those who ruled the country and for whom we voted traditionally never cared for our issues. This is a ruler who got the seat without our votes and is still listening to us. He does not need us. He does not look at everything with an eye on the votes,” Kichhowchhawi said.

The AIUMB told the PM that they don’t want people to create a divide between communities just to increase their own vote bank. The PM has assured that necessary action will be taken and he will also address the nation’s Muslims in his next ‘Mann ki Baat’.

The PM said,

“I had the opportunity of meeting Sufi saints and scholars… Perhaps, it has become the foremost need for the world to know the true picture of Islam… I am confident that Sufi culture, which is associated with love and generosity, will spread this message far and wide. It will benefit Islam as well as humankind.”

A Muslim organization pledges loyalty to PM Narendra Modi

“Shiva is first messenger of the God”: AIUMB condemn Jameat Mufti Statement

February 21, 2015RINArina-logo

New Delhi 21-Feb (RINA): All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board beliefs that the hidden belief of wahhabi/Salafi ideology has got its expression in the words of Mufti Ilyas patron Jamiatul Ulama-e-Hind Gonda unit, who has said that Shiva is first messenger of the God He has emphasised over the issue by saying that it is not his idea but he beliefs in that Shiva is the first messenger sent by god.

President and founder of AIUMB Hazrat Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhochhawi said in a statement that it is the turn of Indian Muslims to realise the sensitive nature of statements like one from that Group of Muslims who have hijacked Muslim representation and are supposed to represent the community in political class and corridors of power.

AIUMB has been constantly saying that we do not believe in religious or political leadership of these elements who are led and fed by gulf oil money and are working to propagate a dangerous agenda which is bound to create social disharmony and religious discord.

President AIUMB said that these wahhabi/Salafi elements have gained access to places where they are given space to propagate their ideology and they are doing this fearlessly.

The president AIUMB asked “Is there any one Muslim who would come to support the statement attributed to Gonda Jamiat patron who was very clear in his assertions that Muslims do not reject the idea of Shiva being the first messenger.”

He also said that statement of Jamiat-e-Ulama leader needs to be scrutinised that All the Indians are one blood; they belong to the same religion. Jamiat leader Mufti Ilyas says that all are Sanatan dharmi and Hindus, which has no basis.

AIUMB is of the opinion that Jamiat e Ulema E hind has taken the route of R.S.S with which it has  been in constant contact for years and now they have realised that the time has come to pay back.

AIUMB strongly objects to the idea presented by Jamiat Mufti because it is an attack on the religious beliefs of Muslims all over the world. AIUMB regards Shiva, a great persona in Hindu Mythology and his effects on Hindu society, but religiously speaking his elevation to the first prophet by one non entity like a Jamiat Mufti demands immediate action. Mufti Ilyas must be arrested and put behind bars because he is propagating disharmony in Indian society and also violating Islamic believes for no reason whatsoever.

AIUMB To Counter Extremist Ideology Through Int’l Sufi Conference

New Delhi: Hundreds of religious scholars from India, Morocco, Bosnia, Chechnya, Pakistan, UAE and Syria –including those from the Shia community are expected to take part in a 3-day conference titled “International Sufi Conference” beginning 5th March, 2015 in Delhi.

“It’s for the first time that an Indian Sufi Sunni apex body of Muslims, Ulema & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) has endeavoured to gather millions of mainstream Muslims and intellectually to demolish the ideology and theology of Al Qaeda and like-minded groups,” Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchawi said in a press communiqué. “

He said it was the first time that an Indian Sufi Sunni apex body of Muslims, Ulama & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) had gathered millions of mainstream Muslims and intellectually demolished the ideology and theology of Al Qaeda and like-minded groups.

An apex body of Sufi Sunni Muslims in India, All India Ulema & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) hosted a special meet in its central office at New Delhi to discuss the issues of extremism finding ways to work out effective counter-narratives.

With a number of Sufi-minded  Islamic scholars, writers and journalists, university students, social activists and grassroots workers, the event was aimed at finding newer ways of spreading the Islamic message of peace and tolerance as a counterattack on the ideological extremism that seems to be growing faster in India too.

“Islam has been conflated in media with extremism,” Kichauchawi said. “We have to keep the Muslim youths away from the politically motivated ‘Islamists’ and recognize the real culprits who cause greater defamation of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) than the Islamophobes.”

Maulana Abdul Moid Azhari, secretary (AIUMB) said that Islam is being wrongly identified with terrorism which has no ideological link with peaceful sufi doctrines. “Sufi ideology is based on peace, brotherhood and tolerance through which the message of peace and harmony is being circulated to the entire world,” he said.

The venue of the event has been decided at Delhi’s Ram Lila Maidan.