Oct 19, 2011, 12.00AM IST Addressing the issue of radicalisation within the Muslim community and the reality of jihadi terrorism, the call by the All
Oct 19, 2011, 12.00AM IST
Addressing the issue of radicalisation within the Muslim community and the reality of jihadi terrorism, the call by the All India Ulama and Mashaik Board (AIUMB) – a prominent organisation of Sunni clerics – to reject Wahhabi versions of Islam is significant. Indian Muslims are among the most tolerant in the world. Yet it can’t be denied that in recent times, hardline interpretations of Islam have gained some ground. This has facilitated the rise of
homegrown radical outfits such as the Indian Mujahideen and the banned Students Islamic Movement of India. Not only that, the AIUMB is right to allege that strict and puritanical Wahhabi interpretations also influence mainstream institutions dealing with minority affairs such as the Muslim Personal Law Board. This is in stark contrast to the syncretic roots of Islam in the subcontinent, which is framed by Sufi traditions of tolerance and harmony.
In Pakistan and Bangladesh, moderate voices within the Muslim community have come under attack. The plural identity of the subcontinental Muslim is under siege. What is even more worrisome is that liberal Muslim writers and intellectuals have found their space shrinking.
While things aren’t that bad in India, there is a case for recognising the diversity within Indian Islam and countering the virulent strain of Wahhabi Islam. According to the AIUMB, Wahhabi-inspired outfits are funded by petro-dollars from Saudi Arabia. Its pitch for a central madrassa board to audit the funding of Islamic seminaries and check radical indoctrination must be taken seriously. To prevent the radicalisation of the Muslim community and promote communal harmony, moderate Muslim voices need to be given equal space and political access.