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Barelvis take on Deobandis over religious property

Manjari Mishra, TNN 6 January 2010, 12:23am IST LUCKNOW: The age-old animosity between the Deobandi and Barelvi schools of thought among Sunni Muslim

Manjari Mishra, TNN 6 January 2010, 12:23am ISTTOI

LUCKNOW: The age-old animosity between the Deobandi and Barelvi schools of thought among Sunni Muslims resurfaced in Uttar Pradesh with moderate Barelvis serving an ultimatum to hardline Deobandis to give up control over Muslim religious places during a Sunni conference.
The fight is over control of more than one lakh madrassas, dargahs, graveyards and other historical monuments. Under the control of Sunni Waqf board,these properties — excluding, of course, the historical monuments — in UP alone are worth at least Rs 10,000 crore. The figure would be substantially higher if properties in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal, Bihar, MP and Chhattisgarh were to be included.
A demand to free all the ‘idaaras’ (religious places) from ‘wahabis’ — read Deobandis — was raised at the conference hosted by All-India Ulema Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) in Moradabad last Sunday. General secretary of the board, Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichowchhwi, accused the “13% minuscule, manipulative minority with hijacking all minorities bodies in UP and the national level”.
Talking to TOI, Maulana Kichowchhwi said this was a fight between moderates and hardliners. “Since the latter do not have faith in patron saints of ‘dargah’ or ‘mazar’ and have condemned the practice, logically they must not be considered for management of Ajmer Sharif or Deva Sharif. The government must ensure that the chairperson and members of the Sunni Waqf Board come from among 80% of the population of moderate Muslims who follow the Sufi tradition,” he said.
This apart, the board also demanded representation in Central Haj Committee, Urdu Academy and other minority related institutes, said Babar Ashraf, secretary of AIUMB, who accused Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband, Nadava Jamate, Islam Jamait-ul-Ulema, et al, of trying to dominate Barelvis “on the strength of petro-dollars”. “Members of Waqf board in the past have systematically captured our mosques and madrassas,” he said, and added, “The board would
launch a public agitation to liberate our properties.”
The gathering of ulema, imams and intellectuals also demanded “a rightful share and representation as per their population percentage in all government and semi-government bodies” and appealed to the government to ensure the enforcement, failing which the board would take the fight to the public.
The Sunni Conference, a Deobandi cleric said, could be just a pressure tactic to influence the Mayawati government, “especially as Naseemuddin Siddiqui, the right hand man of Behenji, who is known to play a key role in minority affairs here, is known to be a disciple of prominent Deobandi Alim Kari Siddiqui.”