Follow the country’s law along with the religion on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha : Syed Mohammad Ashraf

Ajmer: August 29
On the occasion of the upcoming festival, Eid-ul-Azha, Muslims will be sacrificing the animals while exercising the right to freedom of religion. But at the same time, they should also take care of the laws of the country. This point was particularly highlighted by the Founder and President of All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board, Hazrat ​​Sayed Mohammad Ashraf in Ajmer Sharif Dargah Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (Rahmatullah alaih) in the gathering of Chhati Sharif in Baitun Noor.
He appealed to the people and said that in many places now, some enemies of peace and the people might try to spoil the atmosphere of peace during the sacrifice. “Therefore, we need to work with patience and respect the law of the country and follow it completely”, he said.
He also said that people should not sacrifice in open places. Our Deen (religion) also says this. We should not shed the blood of the Qurbani in the drains, rather bury it, as well as those parts of the animal which are not eaten and the food which is forbidden in Islam should also be buried. We do not have permission to give any of them to anyone else because we cannot give any such food to anyone. At the same time, we must take care of cleanliness so that nobody could have trouble with our sacrifice.
Hazrat further said: we have to make special arrangements to bring the meat of the Qurbani to the disadvantaged, less-fortunate and the poorest of the poor. He said that there is no restriction on sacrifice in our country, but we must take care of the feelings of those practicing other religions and faiths. We have to fulfill the rights of our neighbors and non-Muslims, while we take care of our co-religionists, because we are Muslims, so we must maintain peace and tranquility. This responsibility is ours. He also congratulated the people on Hajj.
Hazrat Maulana Syed Mehdi Mian Chishti congratulated the people on Khwaja Gharib Nawaz’s Chatti Sharif saying that the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha is the best way to get closer to our lord.
Syed Mehdi Mian continued: Every capable Muslim should sacrifice, but we must take care that no one’s heart is hurt, no one is troubled, and it does not spread any kind of dirt. This is the only way we can emulate the example of Hazrat Gharib Nawaz Moinuddin Chishti (r.a).
If someone’s heart is broken, it is a big sin like breaking God’s house. “Hearts are to be connected, not to be broken”….. “You cannot achieve the pleasure of your Lord (Rabb) until you help the disturbed people”, he said.
Joint National Secretary of the AIUMB, Haji Syed Salman Chishti, with the grace of Huzur Gharib Nawaz, greeted on Eid-e-Ibrahimi and the Haj pilgrimage, saying that one should remember that in many parts of the country, people are upset with the flood. We have to help them on this occasion of Eid. Qurbani also teaches us that we are sacrificing our pleasure and welfare for the sake of our Lord. This feeling has to be awakened and spread widely, because human life is in danger and doing something about it is the means to achieve the pleasure of our Lord (Rabb-ul-Alameen). We have to tread the path of Sufia to benefit larger section of the people. “Love for everyone, hatred for none” is the only way to save the world from chaos and strife”, he said.
By: Ghulam Rasool Dehalvi

18th Century Ulema: The Unsung Heroes of the First Indian Independence War In 1857: By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
29 August 2017
On this Independence Day, we need to also remember the freedom strugglers who have been forgotten almost completely. The first Indian freedom movement of 1857 should particularly be recalled in this context. While 70 percent of the soldiers came from the Hindu or Sikh community, the Ulema and Muslim leaders like Maulana Fazle Haq Khairabadi, Maulana Ahmed Shah, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Khan Bahadur Khan, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Firoz Shah and Azimullah Khan were the most prominent characters in the annals of the revolt. Remarkably, Nana Sahib, Rani Laxmi Bai and Tantya Tope declared Bahadur Shah Zafar, a Muslim King, India’s first independent ruler on May 11, 1857. Similarly, Ram Kunwar Singh, Raja Nahir Singh, Rao Tula Ram exerted herculean efforts and sacrifices to uphold the 1857 revolt.

During the 1857 revolt, India’s top Ulema declared the rebellion for freedom as “Wajib-e-Deeni” (religious obligation). They issued an anti-British fatwa while actively participating in the blood-spattered insurgents. Among the most forgotten Ulema and Maulvis who valiantly campaigned for an independent India were: Maulana Sadruddin Azurda Dehlvi, Maulana Ahmadullah Shah Madrasi, Maulana Fazle Haq Khairabadi, Maulana Kifayat Ali Moradabadi, Maulana Rahmatullah Kairanvi, Imam Bakhsh Sahbai Dehlvi and Maulana Wazir Khan Akbarabadi. These Ulema were imbued in an Indian strain of Islam with a pluralistic and nationalistic ideology originally underpinned by the Sufi mentors such as Mirza Mazhar Jaan-e-Jaanan (1195-1781), Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlvi (1239-1824), Qazi Sana’ullah of Panipat (1225-1810), Shah Rafiuddin Dehlvi (1233-1818) and Mufti Sharfuddin Rampuri (1268-1852). Their exhortation of nationalism called Hubb-ul-Watani (love for the country) was the driving force behind the Ulema’s fierce struggles and sacrifices in the Independence movements from 1857 to 1947. I suffice to reproduce three prominent examples from the Indian Ulema’s traditions and accounts.

Maulana Fazle Haq Khairadabadi (1797–20 August 1861)

A leading revolutionary in the 1857 revolt was Maulana Fazle Haq Khairadabadi, son of Allama Fazle Imam Farooqi, the Grand Mufti of Delhi in the 18th century and a disciple of the noted Sufi master, Shah Abdul Qadir (1230/1815). He rendered various services to the country but the anti-British fatwa known as “Tahqeeq al-Fatwa fi Ibtal al-Taghwa” (fatwa in refutation of the devil) was his most remarkable contribution to India’s first freedom struggle.

Vivek Iyer noted in his book “Ghalib, Gandhi and the Gita” that Khairabadi was a celebrated poet, philosopher and social scientist, but was most remembered as a freedom struggler of the 1857 Indian rebellion. He took up service with the government in 1815 but resigned from the job in 1831 and spent most of his time in an intellectual activism for the country’s freedom. He penned down a comprehensive historical account of the 1857 revolt in Arabic titled “al-Thaura al-Hindiya” (Indian rebellion). After his resignation from the services of the British government, Khairabadi got an opportunity to serve the Nawab of Jhajjar. He was also close to Bahadur Shah Zafar. When the 1857 revolt broke out, he travelled from Alwar to Delhi several times to hold meetings with Bahadur Shah Zafar. Munshi Zakaullah notes in his famous research work in Urdu “Taarikh-e-‘Urooj-e-Saltanat-e-Englishiah (History of the British government’s rise in India):

“When General Bakht Khan, along with his fourteen thousand soldiers, came for Bareilly to Delhi, Maulana Khairabadi delivered a Friday sermon before hundreds of Ulema in Delhi’s Jama Masjid. He put fourth an Islamic decree (Istifta) on the freedom fight for the country with the signatures of Mufti Sadruddin Azurda, Maulvi Abdul Qadir, Qazi Faizullah Dehlvi, Maulana Faiz Ahmed Badayuni, Dr. Wazir Khan Akbarabadi, Syed Mubaraksha Rampuri”.

No sooner did this fatwa against the British was declared and widely disseminated, the revolt intensified throughout the country. Some ninety thousand soldiers gathered in Delhi. Quoting from the “Akhbar-e-Dehli” of Chunni Lal, a contemporary Urdu researcher Khushtar Noorani writes: Maulana Khairabadi continued to hold gatherings delivering sermons on the significance of the jihad against the British to rescue the country which was Darul Islam (abode of Islam) in his view”.

In January 30, 1859, Khairabadi was arrested by the British authorities and a case was filed against him for ‘taking a leadership role in the rebellion’, as C. Anderson records in “The Indian Uprising of 1857-8: prisons, prisoners, and rebellion”. He was tried in the court and was sentenced to imprisonment at Kalapani (Cellular Jail) on Andaman Island with confiscation of his property by the Judicial Commissioner, Awadh Court. During the court proceedings, Maulana himself defended his case and categorically stated in the court that he had issued the anti-British fatwa with his free will, not by compulsion. He reached Andaman on 8 October 1859. Sir William Wilson Hunter, a Scottish historian and a compiler and a member of the Indian Civil Service, writes: “Fazl-e-Haq was an alim (Islamic scholar) who was sentenced to imprisonment in the Kaala Paani and whose library was confiscated and brought to Calcutta by the English government”. (Hamare Hindustani Musalamaan, [Urdu] Page: 203, Delhi).

Mufti Sadruddin Azurda Dehlvi (1804 -1868)

One of the most notable revolutionaries of the 1857 revolt in Delhi was Mufti Sadruddin ‘Azurdah’. An intellectual, spiritually inclined literary figure from the Kashmiri origin, Azurdah was a disciple of the renowned and authoritative classical scholar of Islam Maulana Fazl-e-Imam Faruqi (1244/1829) of Khairabad located in Sitapur (Uttar Pradesh).

Notably, Azurdah was Delhi’s Grand Mufti, an excellent Urdu poet and a bosom friend of Mirza Ghalib. His proactive engagement with the revolt of freedom in 1857 resulted in the loss and devastation of all his poetry during the riots. The only known collection of his poetry is the “Surviving Poetic work of Azurdah” compiled by A’bdur Rahman Parwaz from various Tazkiras (memoirs). One of the architects of modern Muslim mindset in India, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan mentioned Azurda in his book “Asaar-us-Sanadid” (the remnants of ancient heroes) as a “well-versed Muslim scholar of his age”.

When the Ulema of Delhi declared Jihad against the British, the fatwa was signed by Azurdah as published in the famous Urdu daily Akhbaar-uz-Zafar dated July 26, 1857. The newspaper is preserved in Delhi’s National Archives. Azurdah is also reported to have been the mediator between the English and Mughal elites in the early days of the British ascendancy in Delhi. He held meetings and consultations with Bahadur Shah Zafar in the Red Fort during the Mutiny to help the Indian revolutionaries further their cause. When the British curbed the 1857 revolt, a case for rebellion was filed against Azurdah. He was tried in the court and suffered a painful imprisonment. Consequently, a large part of his property was confiscated. The British authorities destroyed almost 3 Lakh books collected in Azurdah’s personnel library.

Remarkably, Azurda trained many Ulema and scholars like Maulana Ahmadullah Shah Madrasi and sent them to Agra in 1846 where they established a council of Ulema (Majlis-e-Ulema) to systematically campaign for the rebellion against the British colonialism.

Maulana Ahmaddullah Shah Madrasi (1787-1858)

In his well-researched work in Urdu, Taarikh-e-Jang-e-Azadi-e-Hind 1857 (page: 205), Syed Khurshid Mustafa Rizvi writes: “Ahmaddullah Shah prominently figures the list of ulema who prepared the whole country for the 1857 Revolt….He visited different parts of the country and instigated the people for the Revolt.”

Ahmaddullah Shah was a spiritually inclined Alim or Islamic scholar. He got fascinated towards a mystical lifestyle from his youth. Therefore, he left his home and travelled far and wide, from Hyderabad and Madras to England, Egypt, Hijaz, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. Back in India, he spent most of his life in mysticism and even in Chillahkashi (Sufi practice of mystical seclusion for 40 continuous days) at Bikaner and Sambher.

He attained the spiritual disciplehood of his Pir-o-Murshid (Sufi master) Mir Qurban Ali Shah in Jaipur where he was granted the Ijazat-O-Khilafat (spiritual succession and authorization). From Jaipur, he travelled to Tonk where he held the Mahfil-e-Sima (gathering for mystical music) which was criticized by the conformist Ulema. Dismayed by their objection, he left for Gwalior where he met another Sufi mystic Mehrab Shah Qalandar. Having granted him the Ijazat-o-Khilafat, Shah Qalandar exhorted him to work for India’s freedom movement. Therefore, he left Gwalior for Delhi in 1846.

In Delhi, he met Mufti Sadruddin Azurda who directed him to go to Agra which he thought was the best place for a better and successful preparation for the campaign against the British oppression. In Agra, he consolidated ties with the leading Ulema who cooperated him in the formation of Majlis-e-Ulema (Council of Ulema) to campaign against the British regime.

In the famous book, “The Indian mutiny of 1857” edited by Colonel Malleson, Maulana is mentioned as follows: “If a patriot is a man who plots and fights for the independence, wrongfully destroyed, for his native country, then most certainly, the Maulvi (Ahmadullah) was a true patriot”.

The British historian Malleson has described Maulana in these words: “The Maulvi was a very remarkable man…. In person, he was tall, lean and muscular with large deep set eyes, beetle brows, a high aquiline nose, and lantern jaws….. The British considered him a worthy enemy and a great warrior”.

Malleson further writes that “no doubt, the leader behind this conspiracy (1857) which had spread all over India was the Maulvi (Ahmadullah)…….. I think that he the brain behind the revolt”. During his journeys, Maulana introduced a novel scheme which is known as the ‘Chapati scheme’. He devised the circulation of Chapatis from hand to hand to disseminate the message amongst the rural population of the North India that a great uprising would take place. The English historian G.W. Forest heaps high praises on the Maulana for being a ‘practicing alim’, a ‘Sufi soldier’ and commander with great military skills (Kaye’s and Malleson’s History of the Indian mutiny of 1857-8).

In his article, “Maulvi Ahmedullah: The Unsung Hero of the Revolt” published in Radiance Viewsweekly, Mohd. Asim Khan depicts a portrait of how valiantly Maulana fought against the British: “Maulvi Ahmedullah Shah was a rare combination of both a writer and a warrior. He used his sword valiantly, and his pen effortlessly for awakening and mobilising the people against the foreign subjugation…..He wrote revolutionary pamphlets and started distributing them. It was too much for the imperialists and they ordered his arrest. He was tried for sedition and sentenced to be hanged”.

The British officers declared a reward of Rs. 50,000 for capturing Maulana alive. The proclamation reads: “It is hereby notified that a reward of Rs.50, 000 will be paid to any person who shall deliver alive, at any British Military post or camp, the rebel Moulvee Ahmed Molah Shah, commonly called “the Moulvee”. It is further notified that, in addition to this reward, a free pardon will be given to any mutineer or deserter, or to any rebel, other than those named in the Government Proclamation No. 476 of the lst instant, who may so deliver up the said Moulvee”.

Noted Urdu historian of Karachi, Prof. Mohammad Ayyub Qadri writes: “The martyrdom of Maulana Ahmadullah put an end to the [first] war of independence, not only in Ruhelkhand But in the entire country” (Jang-e-Azadi-e-Hind 1857, P. 303).

The author is a scholar of classical Islamic studies, cultural analyst and researcher in media and communication studies and regular columnist with New Age Islam.

We stand by the Muslim personal laws, not the self-imposed Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB): Syed Mohammad Ashraf

Hazrat Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichchawchchvi, Founder & President of All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board has stated that while we fully respect the Supreme Court’s Judgment, we cannot succumb to the self-imposed law of the government. For a well-intentioned and well-spirited reformation in the Indian Muslim society, the government will first have to win the community’s trust with due regard to its faith and all matters of religious conviction.
Speaking to the media outlets, Syed Ashraf Kichchawchchvi said that it would be too early to draw a conclusion from the Supreme Court’s observations, unless the final, complete and conclusive judgment is passed. Personal laws come under the ambit of the essential rights for all religious communities including the Muslim minority. They don’t stand in violation of the constitution, Kichchawchchvi said.
Syed Ashraf Kichchawchchvi also maintained that All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) stands by the “Indian Muslims’ personal laws” rather than the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). However, it would not support any infringement on the basic provisions of the religious freedom accorded to the Muslims in the Indian constitution. The Indian constitution’s article 25 which allows the complete freedom of profession and practice of the religion has the primacy in all such affairs, he said.
In this context, Syed Ashraf Kichchawchchvi took a note of introspection as well, while stating that the ulema and Muftis (experts on the Islamic jurisprudence) would do well to carry out a rigorous research on the entire subject. Keeping this purpose in view, the AIUMB plans to organize research seminars and workshops across the country to make a deeper delving into the subject matter. This will help us prepare and interpret a well-thought-out Muslim divorce law which will be pertinent both in the Qur’anic and constitutional terms.

By: Ghulam Rasool Dehalvi

Terrorists’ motive is fanning the fire of hatred; attacks on Amarnath pilgrims strongly condemnable: Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichchawchvi

Indians like Salim Sheikh, who risked his own life to save the people, will never let the hate-mongers succeed in their dirty game of terror in the name of religion!

Mumbai: All India Ulama and Mshaikh Board’s founder and president Hazrat Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichchawchvi has condemned the terror attacks on the Amarnath pilgrims, saying that the cowards are killing humanity.

Syed Mohammad Ashraf added saying: “Terrorists attacked the whole country by onslaughts on the Amarnath pilgrims. It is a part of the deep conspiracy to sabotage the national cohesion and unity! The government should deal with it with urgency and efficiency!”

He said that terrorists have constantly been conspiring to spoil the peace of the country and to break our social affinity.
He continued: we appeal to people to act patiently and diligently in such trying times. We should remember that by promoting hatred, we will help the terrorists in their ultimate goals and ulterior motives.
He also said that in this difficult time we have to respond to those who spread hate, with an aim to save our country at all costs.

Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichchawchvi hailed the bus driver, Salim Sheikh while referring to his courageous struggle to save the lives of 50 people among the Amarnath pilgrims.

He said that the brave Indians like Salim Sheikh, who risked his own life to save the people, will never let the hate-mongers succeed in their dirty game of terror in the name of religion.

The government will have to pay attention to this so that there will be no such incidents in future, neither the mobs could take law in their hands anywhere in the country.

Even if we love the country, we also have the responsibility to uphold its peace, otherwise, we are just showing off our patriotism or love for our country. We should try our level best to prevent the situation from escalating into becoming a reason for communal and religious strife. According to the teachings of Islam, the most important work in such a situation is to run a vigorous campaign for establishing communications, contacts and connections with our non-Muslim brothers and sisters. We should remove their misunderstandings and apprise them of the true teachings of Islam and enlighten them of its pristine message.We should raise our voice against oppression and injustice hand in hand with our non-Muslim brothers and sisters.

Mystic Mantra: Wahdat — A nuanced notion of love

By: Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
Makhdoom Ashraf’s spiritual theories presented in his oral transmission known as “Lataif-e-Ashrafi” are our guiding light today.

Indian Sufi saints of Persian origin have richly contributed to the beautiful mystical traditions in India. Their essential message included brotherhood (ukhuwat-e-insani), inclusivity (shumuliat) and a wide embrace of religious pluralism and multiculturalism. This was the key behind the vast popularity of the Sufi sages in the country.

One such Indian sage who came from Persia was Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir Simnani whose shrine is in Uttar Pradesh. A disciple of the 13th century Bengali Sufi sheikh Hazrat Alaul Haq Pandavi and a practitioner of Ibn-e-Arabi’s philosophy of Wahdat al-Wajud (unity of the existence), Makhdoom Ashraf is highly venerated in north India. He founded the branch of the Chishti Sufi order — Ashrafi Silsila — with vital contribution of his distinguished mureed (disciple), Syed Shah Abdur Razzaq Noor Ayn.

Makhdoom Ashraf’s spiritual theories presented in his oral transmission known as “Lataif-e-Ashrafi” are our guiding light today. His discourse seeks to deepen our understanding about the basic tenets of Islam, such as wahdat and al-Tawheed (oneness of God). He introduced wahdat as a deeply nuanced and wider notion of love. “Wahdat means annihilation of the lover in the characteristics of his/her beloved”.

Explaining the essential belief in al-Tawheed (the fundamental tenet of Islam) as an all-inclusive and comprehensive Islamic doctrine, Makhdoom Ashraf has dwelled on different degrees of tawheed:

1. Wahdat-e imani (oneness in belief): It is an act of the servants of God, confirming by heart and verbally acknowledging His uniqueness.

2. Wahdat-e ilmi (oneness in knowledge): Makhdoom Ashraf stated: “This second degree of wahdat is attained within oneself, through inner spiritual knowledge. This is also called ilm ul-yaqeen (confirmed knowledge). It urges one to believe that there is no existence other than the Almighty. All other personas, virtues and actions are nothing in comparison to His persona, virtues and actions. In this degree of wahdat, one is supposed to acknowledge the growth of each person as a manifestation of the divine persona of God.”

3. Wahdat-e hali (oneness in spiritual condition): Makhdoom Ashraf explained: “It implies that the condition of wahdat is the most essential virtue of the spiritual practitioners. All darkness of the existence is lost in the light of wahdat. In this state, one should be overwhelmed by the light of wahdat in such a way as the stars lose their light in the sun.”

Finally Makhdoom Ashraf avers: “Wahdat is an ocean and the muwahhid (the believer) is a drop in it with no power of its own”.

Shab-e-Barat (Laylatul Bara’at): Is it Incompatible With True Islam?

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

Every moment, second, minute, hour, day or night that is spent in the submission and obedience to Allah, the Almighty and His beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) is exceedingly meaningful and highly valuable. But there are some specific days, nights and months, which have their own weight due to extra importance attached to them. Among those nights, is Shab-e-Bar’at that is the best of all nights after Laylat ul Quadr or Shab-e-Bara’at in the estimation of Allah.

How and Why Muslims Celebrate Shab-e-Bara’at?

Therefore, devoted Muslims of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan celebrate the Shab-e-Bar’at on the 15th day of Sha’aban. Although this night is not celebrated in the Arab countries, Shab-e-Bar’at also known as Laylat ul Quadr or Laylat ul Nisf min Sha’aban is a traditional Islamic festival in the South Asia.

This year, Shab-e-Bar’at will be celebrated on the 24th of June, 2013. The celebration generally includes worshipping Allah throughout the night, asking for His forgiveness, reciting the Quran and making a great deal of supplication to Allah, the Almighty. Since the night is believed to be full of divine bounties and spiritual blessings, Muslims customarily clean and decorate their houses with chains of lights and candles. Symbolizing the especial grace of God bestowed on this night, the clusters of decorated houses look very beautiful in the shimmering lights. As lightening is a clear sign of rejoicing divine bounties, it is done as an expression of gratitude to Allah, the Almighty who bestows uncountable rewards and blessings on His worshippers especially on this night. It is also a kind of salute to Him, as it is established by scores of authentic Islamic sources that on this night God writes the destiny of all living creatures for the upcoming year. Muslims with a good festive spirit add to their delights by arranging sweets and sending them to their relatives and friends. Some people organize delicious feasts and invite others to their houses to eat together. Thus, they endeavour, on this night, to adopt the noble Islamic behavioural beauty of “Sila Rahmi” (Maintaining bonds of kinship) in their daily lives. Islam has given it paramount importance as the Prophet is reported to have said:

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should maintain the bonds of kinship” (Bukhari)

Among the most prevalent customs to celebrate this night are giving in charity, distributing clothes, foods and other commodities of daily use to the poor and needy. Thus the observance of this night sets good examples of Islamic righteousness mentioned as “Birr” in the Quran, which carries huge weight in the estimation of Allah and earns His immense pleasure. This concept of ‘Birr’ is beautifully illustrated in the Holy Quran:

It is not Birr (righteousness) that you turn your faces (in prayer) towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last day, and the Angels and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your wealth – in spite of your love for it – for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God – minded (Qur’an, 2:177).

So, this is how the night of mid Sha’ban is celebrated by mainstream Muslims especially in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Keeping in view the above norms, the core essence of celebrating Shab-e-Bar’at can be summed up in three fundamentals of Islamic worship: Ibaadat (Worshipping God), Sila Rahmi (Maintaining bonds of Kinship) and Birr (acts of righteousness). All the above-mentioned ways of celebrating the night exhort us, in one way or the other, to fulfil our duties towards both our Lord and fellow human beings. While the sleepless night spent in various forms of worship is a gratitude to God, giving in charity, helping the needy, sending sweets to friends and relatives, inviting others to the feasts and things like these are, obviously, effective means to maintain bonds of kinship and attain righteousness. These are the clear objectives of celebrating Shab-e-Bar’at as intended by millions of South-Asian Muslims today.

Wahabi View on this Celebration:

But what can we do when our Wahabi zealots and Salafi puritans declare everything we do as shirk (heresy) and Bida’ah (innovation)? They reject our religious congregations and Islamic celebrations outright even if they are observed with complete regard to the Qur’an and Hadith. The same holds true to the celebration of Laylat ul Quadr (known as Shab-e-Barat in the Indian subcontinent). Despite its having been authenticated and scrutinized by scores of Sahih Hadiths approved by their own imams such as Sheikh Al-Bani, a renowned scholar of Hadith, Wahabis are hell bent on classing it as Bida’ah. Their argument is; since it is not observed in Wahabi-influenced Arab, so it should be banned in all parts of the world. But mainstream Muslims, particularly Indian Muslims are not too naive to tolerate the Wahabi Arabisation of their religion and culture!

Recently, we caught up with an article titled as: Shab-e-Bar’at: Haqiqat Kya hai? (Shab-e-Bar’at: What is the reality?) By Muhammad Asif Iqbal, New Delhi, published and circulated in several Urdu newspapers of India including Jadeed Khabar and Sahafat, published from New Delhi. The crux of the argument in this article is that the celebration of Shab-e-Bara’at has no basis or authority in Islam and it is nothing more than an innovation which was started after the demise of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The writer says in the second Para of this article:

“The reality is that Muslim Ummah today has given this night the status of a celebration associating with it a number of specific customs and rites that they observe with strong faith and gaiety. Just as Muharram (the first Islamic month) has been made a number one celebration, similarly the night of mid Shaban is observed as a number two celebration. But in fact, it is a false and man-made celebration. Neither it is mentioned in the Quran nor does Hadith approve of it. Similarly, we don’t find any mention of it in the history of Sahaba (Prophet’s Companions) or any approval by our clergy of earliest Islamic period. Obviously, Islam is not a religion of celebrations.” (Page no.3, Daily Jadeed Khabar, New Delhi, Friday 21, June, 2013)

He goes on to the extent of declaring it a custom of Iranian fire worshippers (known as Baramikah). In a bid to prove his point, he concocts a baseless story that goes like this: “the celebration of Shab-e-Bar’at was first invented by the Iranian fire worshippers who entered Islam in the 132th year of al-Hijrah, when Banu Abbas made alliance with Iranians and other Ajamis (non-Arabs) hatching a conspiracy to take over the Umayyad caliphate that was backed by Arab militants. Though the Iranians had embraced Islam, but their inbuilt love for the fire could not evade. Therefore, they sought to keep worshipping fire by innovating a custom of lightening the mosques. When Banu Abbas took over the Umayyad caliphate, they allied with the newly converted non-Arab Muslims. As a result, many Iranians reached the big posts of the government. Baramikah were given such high positions in the Islamic state that Khalid Barmaki was made a minister. When he died in 163 AH, the Caliph Haroon al-Rashid appointed his son Yahya as the minister of Baramikah. Since Baramikah were fire worshippers in their early days, their minister Yahya invented a weird custom of lightening sacred fire in the era of Caliph Haroon al-Rashid. Associating some good deeds with the mid night of Shaban, he innovated the custom of lightening on this night. The objective behind his lightening was to evoke love and respect for the fire in the hearts of people. It was he who innovated the Bida’ah of lightening in mosques so that his people could worship the fire. Thus, the custom of firing and lightening in Islam was started 150 years after its advent. With the passage of time, it continued with various forms and changes. Today, the new shape of this custom is before our eyes.” (Page no.3, Daily Jadeed Khabar, New Delhi, Friday 21, June, 2013)

Refutation:

The Holy Qur’an States: “Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn [mankind].” (44:3)

Although the majority of the Qur’an exegetes consider the “blessed night” in the above verses to refer to the Night of Decree which is considered to be in the month of Ramadan, some commentaries also mention that this “blessed night” may be that of mid-Sha`ban. This view is based on the scores of Ahadith about the great merits of the latter. Consequently, a great number of the Quranic exegetes and scholars of Hadith have unanimously agreed upon the observance of this night. The famous scholar of Islam, juristic expert and the approved exegete of the Quran Imam Suyuti writes: “As for the night of mid-Sha`ban, it has great merit and it is desirable (Mustahab) to spend part of it in supererogatory worship.” [Haqiqat al-sunna wa al-bida’t aw al-Amr bi al-Ittiba` wa al-Nahi `an al-Ibtida Page No. 58]

Authentic Ahadith about the merits of Shab-e-Bara’at

Usually the Wahhabis/Salafis/Ahle Hadith are seen claiming that all Hadiths about the merits of Shab-e-Bar’at are “Daeef” (Weak). First of all, the Hadith of Ibn Habban is termed as “SAHIH” by classical scholars of this technical Islamic science. Even if any follower of such groups does not believe in the classical scholars of Hadith, here is a compelling evidence from the Salafi/Wahhabi so-called Mujaddid of the last century and a reputed scholar of Hadith, Nasir ud Din Albani. He declared Hadiths of 15th Shabaan as “Sahih” (authentic). See: (Silsilat ul-Ahadith-as Sahiha, Nasir ud din Albani, Volume No. 3, Page No. 135)

Among the Hadiths stressing the importance of 15th Sha`ban (Laylat al-Quadr) is the following:

(1) Narrated by Aisha (r.a), I missed Allah’s Messenger during the night and found him in al-Baqui’. He said: Were you afraid that Allah and His Messenger would deal unjustly with you? I said: Allah’s Messenger, I thought that you had gone to some of your other wives. He (the Prophet) said: Verily Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, comes down to the heaven of the world in “the middle night of Sha’ban” and forgives sins even more abundant than the hair of the goats of Kalb. [Sunan Tirmidhi Volume 001, Hadith Number 670, Ibn Maja Volume 002, Hadith Number1379]

(2) Narrated by Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, Allah’s Messenger said, Allah, the Exalted and Glorious looks down on “the middle night of Sha’ban” and forgives all His creation, except a polytheist or one who is mushahin(one bent on hatred). [Sunan Ibn Maja Volume 002, Hadith Number 1380]

(3)  Narrated by Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn al-‘As Allah’s Messenger said, Allah, the Exalted and Glorious looks down on “the middle night of Sha’ban” and forgives all His creation except two people, the Mushahin (one bent on hatred) and the murderer. [Musnad Ahmad Volume 003, Hadith Number 6353]

(4) It is reported by Abu Thalaba that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: On the 15th night of Shabaan, Allah looks over at his creation and forgives all the believers except for the one who begrudges and hates. He leaves them in their enmity. [Bayhqi, Tafsir ad-Dar al-Manthur under the Verse 44:3]

(5) It is reported by Muaz bin Jabbal that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah looks at His creation in “the night of mid-Sha`ban” and He forgives all His creation except for a Mushrik (idolater) or a Mushahin (one bent on hatred). [Ibn Hibban, Sahih, ed. Shu`ayb Arna’ut Volume 012: Hadith Number 5665]

(6) Narrated by A’isha: She said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) stood up in prayer during part of the night and made his prostration so lengthy that I thought his soul had been taken back. When I saw this I got up and went to move his big toe, whereupon he moved, so I drew back. When he raised his head from prostration and finished praying, he (pbuh) said: “O A’isha, O fair little one (Humayra’)! Did you think that the Prophet had broken his agreement with you?” She replied: “No, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah, but I thought that your soul had been taken back because you stayed in prostration for so long.” He said: “Do you know what night this is?” She said: “Allah and His Prophet know best.” He said: “This is the night of mid-Sha`ban! Verily Allah the Glorious and Majestic look at His servants on “the night of mid-Sha`ban, and He forgives those who ask forgiveness, and He bestows mercy on those who ask mercy, and He gives a delay to the people of envy and spite in their state.”

[Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman Volume 003: Hadith Number 3835]

(7 IImran bin Husain (ra) reported, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) having said to him or to someone else: Did you fast in the “Middle of Sha’ban?” He said: No. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: If you did not observe fast, then you should observe fast for two days. [Muslim Book 006, Number 2607]

  Scholarly Opinions

The virtue of the night of mid Shaban has been established right from the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself and has come from multiple channels of transmission from Abdullah bin Amr, Muadh, Abu Hurairah, Abu Thulabah, Awf bin Malik, Abu Bakr, Abu Musa, Aishah (May Allah be pleased with all of them) each of the narrations strengthening each other.

Imam Shafi’i writes:

“Verily, Dua is accepted on five nights: the night of Juma’, the night of Eid Al-Adha, the night of Eid Al-Fitr, the first night of Rajab, and the 15th night of Shabaan”. [Al-Umm, Volume 001, Page No. 231]

Imam Shurunbulali Hanafi writes:

“It is desirable to revive the last ten nights of Ramadan, two nights of Eidain (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha), ten nights of Zil Hijjah, and the 15th night of Sha`ban.” [Noorul Eidhah Page No. 63]

Shaikh Abu-Ishaq Ibrahim Al-Hanbali writes:

“It is desirable to revive the time (with Salat and Ibadah) between the two E’sha’s (Maghrib and E’sha) because of the Ahadith. Many scholars say: Similarly with the night of Ashura, the first night of Rajab, and the 15th night of Sha`ban”. [Al-Mubdi Volume 002, Page No. 27]

Sheikh Mansoor Bahoti Hanbali writes:

“As for the 15th night of Sha`ban, it is a night of virtue. Some of the Salaf prayed the whole night, although establishing congregational prayers (on this night) is good innovation. And the reward of Ibadah on “the 15th night of Sha`ban” is the same as the reward of Ibadah on the night of E’id. [Kash-shaful Qina, Volume 001: Page No. 444]

Sheikh Mubarakpuri (Salafi scholar) writes:

“You should know that a sufficient number of Ahadith have been narrated confirming “the virtues of the 15th night of Sha`ban”. All these Ahadith prove that it has a basis.

After relating many Ahadith about the importance of this night, he says:

“The sum of all these Ahadith is strong evidence against the one “who thinks there is no proof” of the virtue of the 15th night of Sha`ban” and Allah knows best. [Tuhfat ul Ahwadhi Volume 003: Page. 365-367]

Ibn-Taimiyyah when asked about the 15th night of Sha’ban replied:

‘‘As for the 15th night of Shabaan, there are many narrations and Athar (quotes from the Sahabah) regarding its virtue. It has been reported of the Salaf that they prayed in this night. Therefore, praying alone on this night, having precedence in the Salaf, is sufficient evidence and something of this kind surely cannot be denied”.

At another occasion, Ibn-Taimiyyah was asked the same question and he replied:

“If one prays on this night alone or in a select company of people as many groups amongst the Salaf did, “then it is good”. [Fatawa Ibn Taimiyyah Volume 23, Page 131-132]

Conclusion:

To sum up, the virtues of the blessed night of mid Sha’aban are established by a Qur’anic verse, scores of authentic Ahadith and a group of the Salaf (سلف “predecessor” is an early Muslim of the first three generations of proponents of the religion). So, it is highly recommended to celebrate this night and stay up on it, and the Wahabi view declaring it Bid’ah (innovation) is a “Reprehensible” (Munkar) opinion.

Battling radicalism with Sufism: Is Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind using Ajmer Sharif for political gains?: First Post

6th December

By

 In March this year, a Firstpost article had noted that the World Sufi Forum, an initiative by an apex body representing Sufi Muslims in India, was an effort showcasing the community’s resilience against extremism and as “an effective antidote” to terrorism masked as “religious ideology”.

Explaining this “religious ideology”, Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichhouchhwi, key organiser of the World Sufi Forum and founder-president of All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), had told Firstpost: “A specific ideology which is not part of Islamic tradition is motivating radicals who are wrongly interpreting the Quran and its narrative from their own ego pursuits and politics.”

Ajmer_PTI_380

A file image of Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan. PTI

He went on to say, “Any extremist organisation waving Islamic flags and misusing the holy Quran such as Daesh (Islamic State) have actually no endorsement in the ambit of Islam…” and, “this is an extremist ideology which spreads hatred if someone does not subscribe to it. Enormous resources are invested in perpetrating violence. Therefore, it is important to realise and unearth the propaganda of such people and organisations that are funded by foreign entities to spread hatred and intolerance to disrupt peace and harmony in a country such as India”.

The World Sufi Forum, held in March 2016, was slated as the first-ever mega Sufi event of counter-extremism with more than 200 international dignitaries from 20 countries. Though seen as the first and last event as such, it, however, seems to have begun an unending onslaught on the particular ideology which the Sufi forum believes is a grave threat to the country’s pluralistic ethos.

According to a front-page news report in the leading Urdu newspaper Inquilab, World Sufi Forum held a similar conclave entitled, “Sufism and Humanity” in Lucknow on 4 December. Sufi Sunni ulema and intellectuals with various backgrounds spelled-out their opinions on the current ongoings. Several Indian Sufi clerics, who run some of the largest Sunni Islamic seminaries in India, seemed worried about the growing phenomenon of pseudo-Sufism or “neo-Sufism” dressed in diametrically different political forms.

A systematic research on the mystical strain of Islam reveals that the origin of Sufism has its roots in a spiritually-inclined notion of “close personal relationship with the Divine”. Therefore, meditation has been exhorted by Sufi saints as an inner spiritual channel to attain this exalted relationship. But today, this spiritual path to eternal salvation is being turned into a phenomenon of political dominion.

Recently, the largest Sufi shrine in the country, Ajmer Dargah — perhaps for the first time in the Indian history — was dragged into a well-worked-out political campaign by Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind (JUH), an avowed supporter of the Congress party. The key members of the JUH whose ideologues have clearly and categorically declared Sufism as “anti-Islamic”, chose to hold their 33rd annual conference in the prime Sufi Dargah in India, Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan. It was an out-and-out political attempt to woo the mainstream Indian Muslims anchored in age-old Sufi traditions.

Going by the media reports, more than one lakh Muslims of a certain religious faction from across the country assembled at the shrine of the Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Moinuddin Chishti. The JUH invited Deobandi leaders and a few Barelvi clerics who theologically endorse its political motives, with a view to debating the burning political issues of the Muslim community, ranging from the Uniform Civil Code to Triple Talaq to the upcoming UP Elections.

Given the fact that Maulana Mahmood Madani, the JUH general secretary has been a Rajya Sabha member with support from Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal and has dabbled in electoral politics, the 33rd annual conference of the JUH held in Ajmer cannot be seen apolitical. With the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly Election around the corner, the JUH leaders and other religio-politicians are trying to forge a new narrative to woo the gullible Indian Muslims.

But, by any stretch of the imagination, the JUH Ajmer conference will not be able to garner the support of the Sufi-oriented Indian Muslims to achieve its ulterior motives. Tellingly, while the JUH has celebrated Sufism as an effective channel for “unity of the ummah” or “Islamic unity” (note that only Muslims are included in it), it maintained deafening silence over the pernicious “religious ideology” which the World Sufi Forum accuses to be playing havoc across the Muslim world, particularly striking the non-Muslims, Shia and Sufi Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It was distressing to note that the JUH did not even castigate the radical Islamist ideology of bigotry in its so-called “Sufi conference” in Ajmer.

Isn’t it ironical that the same leaders of the JUH who organised the Ajmer conference lambasted the World Sufi Forum as a political ploy of the Indian government to divide the Muslim community over “Sufism vs Wahhabism”? The JUH chief Maulana Madani went to the extent of loudly claiming that “Sufism is nothing” while branding the World Sufi Forum as an NDA bid to “divide the Muslims”. In the wake of the three-day World Sufi Forum which came crashing down hardcore philosophies in Islam, Maulana Arshad Madani blatantly stated: “Sufism is no sect of Islam and is not found in the Quran”. He also accused the Modi government of trying to create animosity among the Muslims.

While the World Sufi Forum’s key participants — mostly global leaders of Sufism — exhibited great zeal in strengthening the foundations of Sufism to combat all the forms of violent extremism, the JUH and the ilk disparaged these Sufi practitioners as “pseudo-Sufis”. So, how would the JUH like to brand itself now when it has held its 33rd largest annual conference in Ajmer using the prime Sufi shrine in India for its own political ends?

Remarkably, while the World Sufi Forum stressed on composite nationalism (muttahida qaumiyat), inclusive democracy (jumhuriat) and pluralism (qaumi yakjehati) in its final-day declaration, the Sufi conclave of the JUH in Ajmer promoted the religionist and sectarian narratives.

The JUH Ajmer conference mainly discussed three points: first, the unity of ummah (ittehad-e-ummat), a JUH unification proposal for Muslims in India which actually calls for a truce between the Deobandis and Barelvis — the two largest Islamic sects in India opposing each other in the foundational religious principles. Second, it called for social condemnation of the practice of Triple Talaq while at the same time strongly theorising its Islamic legality and thus opposing any proposals for a uniform civil code; and third, it called for Dalit-Muslim unity.

But one can find the JUH’s duplicity on the above two points distressing in many ways. Just as theorising the narrowed concept of the unity of ummah, which includes only Muslims in the common perception, is akin to promoting an exclusivist ideology among Indian Muslims. Similarly, publicising dubious views on a daily-life issue of paramount importance — Tripple Talaq — is celery misleading.

As for the truce between the Deobandis and Barelvis, it cannot be simply overlooked that the Ajmer conclave was led by Maulana Mahmood Madni, the third generation of Deobandi cleric Maulana Hussein Ahmed Madni who could not reconcile with the Barelvi ulema on religious grounds. So, the JUH could very well bring together a few known faces of the Barelvi and Deobandi ulema on its stages without which it would be merely a mirage to form the unity on the ground level.

A noted scholar on the Barelvi and Deobandi sects in India, Dr Arshad Alam has pointed it out: “The demand for sectarian unity is nothing new among Indian Muslims. We know that the community is divided internally among Shias and Sunnis. Among the Sunnis, there are divisions like the Deobandis, the Barelvis and the Ahl-e-Hadith. These are not just superficial divisions but their ideological roots run deep and have a history of nearly 150 years on the Indian subcontinent. Curiously enough, the initiators of schism within the community were the Deobandis themselves who through their various publications and sermons decided in their wisdom that the Barelvis were something of a lesser Muslims”.

In the latest event of the World Sufi Forum held in Lucknow on 4 December, it was buttressed that the sole purpose of organising Sufi conclaves is the promotion of an ideology which calls for unity in multiplicity, tolerance and acceptance and respect for all humanity. Sufi clerics like Shaikh Anwar Ahmad, a senior scholar at Baghdad University in Iraq who now runs a female-oriented Islamic seminary in UP, proclaimed: “the aim is to help the people build a peaceful, progressive and pluralistic nation through the Sufi teachings”.

Despite the vehement opposition from the leading Islamic organisations like the JUH, these Sufis claim that they do not believe in opposing others, but rather engaging actively in peace activism. A Firstpost article has also noted that Sufis are now trying to come out of their conclaves to tackle the ideological extremism stemming from the hardcore philosophies in Islam.

It was also stressed in the Lucknow conclave that Sufism belies all the notions which Salafism stands for. Traversing from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent, Sufism incorporates harmonious local practices like music and qawwali which are rejected by the radicals in Islam.

Is 5 Year Ban Enough for Radicals like Zakir Naik?: Khateeb-e-Deccan

The Indian government’s five-year ban on the supremacist Islamist preacher, Dr Zakir Naik seems to have gratified many people – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – who concern themselves with the pluralistic ethos of the country. But is the story over? How could this eventual ban bring an end to the process of fanatic indoctrination ushering in the age of Internet?
“The story isn’t quite over yet,”Banning Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) will not undo the messages he has preached to youth all these years… There is a need to keep a continuous vigil. Naik might be planning his next moves sitting in Dubai, where he is currently believed to be,” it adds.
The above remark is not difficult to understand, bearing in mind that many Muslim youth from Maharashtra left their home to join the Islamic State (IS) earlier this year, some of them allegedly inspired by Naik

The  resemblance between the  remarks of the IS ideologue in Dabiq and that of the star Salafist preacher in India, Naik answering a similar question in one of his public talks. Naik justified rather more heinous crime of slavery, “sex slavery” with his masterful misuse of the religious texts of Islam. In the same tone and tenor as that of the IS author, Naik justified sex slavery in 2010 in his public speech (check this video) on the question, “Is sex allowed with slave women in Islam.”
Similarly, Naik’s views on death penalty for those who are declared “apostates” have no conflict with what the IS author has pointed out. According to him, if somebody wanted to convert to any faith other than Islam, the capital punishment would be the most “humane punishment” for such a person. This video of his talk on “capital punishment for apostates” leaves no doubt in the complete replication of Naik’s theology to the inhuman ideology of IS and Taliban.
Thus, through his TV channel and in other so-called Islamic Da’wah programmes, Naik has preached precisely what IS ideologues have. Several articles in Firstpost have candidly exposed Naik as an Islamist supremacist who speaks of sex slaves, wanton killing of apostates and justifies the terror crimes as heinous as suicide bombing. At a time when the world’s progressive Islamic scholars are outraged at the pre-Islamic practice of keeping sex slaves that the IS has now revived, Naik has justified the vile custom.
Just as Dabiq misleads the ordinary English-speaking Muslims of the Middle East, the first Salafist television in India, Peace TV founded and conceived by Naik has misguided scores of English-speaking Indian Muslims who are either gullible or oblivious to the grave threat posed to the tolerant Indian Islam.
At a time when the IS is flogging the fiction of its pre-conceived apocalypse in its bid to revive the vile pre-Islamic custom of slavery and establish its own caliphate, Naik and many other self-styled preachers of Islam have helped the extremist cult expand in the Muslim community the world over. But merely banning the extremist indoctrinators is not sufficient enough to stem the tide. As clearly evidenced above, this extremist tribe is growing more rapidly in the virtual world. The online media is being increasingly used to spread the Islamist radicalism. Therefore, the government needs to provide digital literacy to the Indian youth and civil society organisations, religious scholars and media experts to counter the online indoctrination of the Muslim youth and rescue them from the extremist ideologies.

The Indian government’s five-year ban on the supremacist Islamist preacher, Dr Zakir Naik seems to have gratified many people – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – who concern themselves with the pluralistic ethos of the country. But is the story over? How could this eventual ban bring an end to the process of fanatic indoctrination ushering in the age of Internet?
“The story isn’t quite over yet,”Banning Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) will not undo the messages he has preached to youth all these years… There is a need to keep a continuous vigil. Naik might be planning his next moves sitting in Dubai, where he is currently believed to be,” it adds.
The above remark is not difficult to understand, bearing in mind that many Muslim youth from Maharashtra left their home to join the Islamic State (IS) earlier this year, some of them allegedly inspired by Naik

The  resemblance between the  remarks of the IS ideologue in Dabiq and that of the star Salafist preacher in India, Naik answering a similar question in one of his public talks. Naik justified rather more heinous crime of slavery, “sex slavery” with his masterful misuse of the religious texts of Islam. In the same tone and tenor as that of the IS author, Naik justified sex slavery in 2010 in his public speech (check this video) on the question, “Is sex allowed with slave women in Islam.”
Similarly, Naik’s views on death penalty for those who are declared “apostates” have no conflict with what the IS author has pointed out. According to him, if somebody wanted to convert to any faith other than Islam, the capital punishment would be the most “humane punishment” for such a person. This video of his talk on “capital punishment for apostates” leaves no doubt in the complete replication of Naik’s theology to the inhuman ideology of IS and Taliban.
Thus, through his TV channel and in other so-called Islamic Da’wah programmes, Naik has preached precisely what IS ideologues have. Several articles in Firstpost have candidly exposed Naik as an Islamist supremacist who speaks of sex slaves, wanton killing of apostates and justifies the terror crimes as heinous as suicide bombing. At a time when the world’s progressive Islamic scholars are outraged at the pre-Islamic practice of keeping sex slaves that the IS has now revived, Naik has justified the vile custom.
Just as Dabiq misleads the ordinary English-speaking Muslims of the Middle East, the first Salafist television in India, Peace TV founded and conceived by Naik has misguided scores of English-speaking Indian Muslims who are either gullible or oblivious to the grave threat posed to the tolerant Indian Islam.
At a time when the IS is flogging the fiction of its pre-conceived apocalypse in its bid to revive the vile pre-Islamic custom of slavery and establish its own caliphate, Naik and many other self-styled preachers of Islam have helped the extremist cult expand in the Muslim community the world over. But merely banning the extremist indoctrinators is not sufficient enough to stem the tide. As clearly evidenced above, this extremist tribe is growing more rapidly in the virtual world. The online media is being increasingly used to spread the Islamist radicalism. Therefore, the government needs to provide digital literacy to the Indian youth and civil society organisations, religious scholars and media experts to counter the online indoctrination of the Muslim youth and rescue them from the extremist ideologies.

Jami’at Ulema-e-Hind Conference in Ajmer and Attacks on Sufi Shrines: Why this Duplicity?

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

This is a trying time for all the Sufi practitioners and shrine-visitors in India and Pakistan. First time in the history, Ajmer Sharif–the biggest Sufi shrine in India–is being used in a large political campaign of the Jami’at Ulema-e-Hind (JUH), whose key members and religio-politicians declare Sufism “un-Islamic”, yet chose the largest Sufi shrine to organise their 33th annual conference, clearly in an attempt to woo the mainstream Sufi-oriented Muslims in India.  

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The other day, Pakistan witnessed the deadliest terror attack on Sufi devotees who were engaged in a spiritual ceremony at the shrine of the Sufi saint Hazrat Shah Noorani, in the provincial capital of restive southern Balochistan. According to the Pakistani Urdu daily Express News, at least 90 people died and more than 100 others were injured in the bomb blast at a remote Sufi shrine in Pakistan. The victims were the Sufi practitioners who were participating in a devotional Sufi practice, Dhamal which is held daily before dusk, when the blast occurred. Women and children were among the worst victims, as the provincial Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti has told the media reporters.

Regrettably enough, while the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind celebrates the Sufism and its universal values and teachings in its first-ever ‘Sufi conference’ in Ajmer, it maintains complete silence over the atrocities against the Sufi-oriented Muslims in Pakistan at the hands of the hard-line Islamists.

The reason why scores of innocent Sufi devotes have been targeted in the bloodthirsty terror attack on the Shah Noorani Dargah is plain and simple. As many researchers have rightly pointed out, Sufism—the spiritual strain of Islam—is castigated as deviation from the ‘puritanical Islam’ and thus Sufi Muslims are declared heretics and apostates ‘whose blood should be shed to purge Islam of the deviations’. This is a categorical sectarian stand of all the theological ideologues inspiring the extremist Islamist outfits like the ISIS, al-Qaeda and Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Commenting on the vulnerable situation of Sufi shrines in Pakistan, Malini Nair writes: “There have been several attacks on Sufi shrines in Pakistan in recent years. The reason is not hard to find – unlike the grey jihadists’ worldview, the Sufi tradition is about divinity represented in music, poetry and dance, and attained through the meditative creation of Sama. The Sufi’s world is wrapped around metaphors – there are no straight answers to questions, no one right path, and all are welcome to this all-encompassing madness….” (timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-edit-page/amjad-sabris-assassination-how-the-sufi-qawwali-rattles-the-jihadists-grey-worldview/)

Not long ago, Amjad Sabri, a popular Qawwal (Sufi singer) of Pakistan was assassinated by two Talibani gunmen in Karachi in June 2016. (Source: dawn.com/news/1266514). But Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan which claimed the responsibility of Sabri’s murder was not alone in justifying the murder of the Sufi Singer. Qawwali and devotional dance which has long been part of the Sufi tradition are frowned upon as ‘heretical’ and ‘deviant’ by all the hard-line Islamist groups gaining ideological momentum in Pakistan. Therefore, the brutal killing of the innocent Sufi singer went wholly unchallenged. It was viewed as the assassination of an apostate (Murtad).Those in Pakistan who accused Sabri of apostasy were did not regret his death. Neither do they mourn the latest terror attack on the shrine of Hazrat Shah Noorani. For, the bomb blast hit the ‘deviants’ participating in the traditional Sufi dance. The target of the attack was the area where Sufi devotees were performing ‘Dhamal’, a popular form of devotional Sufi dance. The visitors take part in this Sufi practice at the shrine of Shah Noorani every day after sunset. The terror attack took place close to where devotees were dancing inside the compound of the shrine, as reported by News18.Almost 500 to 600 devotees were present at the shrine when the terror attack was carried out. (news18.com/news/world/52-killed-in-sufi-shrine-blast-in-pakistans-balochistan-1311473.html).

Going by the latest media reports on this terror incident, it seems it was perpetrated by the ISIS which has claimed the responsibility for the attack via its affiliated news agency Amaq. The ISIS wrote that “a suicide bomber targeting the shrine had killed around 35 people and injured 95 others”.

In its latest statement through its Amaq news agency, the ISIS has also confessed that it was also responsible for the October 24 attack on a police academy in Quetta, the capital of the Baluchistan province. At least 60 people were killed and more than 120 people were injured in that attack.

The militant group has targeted the Sufi saint Shah Noorani’s shrine in a wave of terror attacks in Baluchistan in recent years. Earlier, more than 100 people were injured in a similar blast, with a faction of the Pakistan Taliban – the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar – claiming responsibility for it.Al Jazeera correspondent has reported from the capital Islamabad that there was an overwhelming crowd at that Sufi shrine when the explosion happened.”They were commemorating the Sufi saint’s 500th birth anniversary. People killed include women and children,” Al Jazeera reported. (aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/dozens-casualties-attack-pakistan-shrine-161112141000715.html

ISIS’ animosity towards the Sufi and Shia Muslims is not difficult to see in the Muslim countries, particularly in its occupied lands. It appears that after the crackdown on the ISIS self-imposed caliphate in Mousal, Raqqa and other parts of the West Asia, the global jihadist empire is switching over to South Asian Muslim countries where the militant groups like the Taliban, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the ilk already exist and slaughter the Sufi and Shia followers considering their practices against the ‘puritanical ‘Islam. It is a common knowledge that Shah Noorani’s shrine is venerated and visited both by minority Shia and the majority Sufi-Sunni Muslims in Pakistan.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad–one of the erstwhile leaders of Indian Muslims and first education minister of India—said in his speech at Jama Masjid to Indian Muslims, that the biggest mistake Muslims did was the creation of Pakistan. The book written by Sourish Kashmiri makes it patently clear that separation from India in any form was strongly discouraged by Maulana  Azad and the likes who prided themselves on the multiculturalism in India. It would have been easy for them to go and get settled in Pakistan and get all accolades, but they didn’t. They were cognizant of the truth that whatever calamity might fall on Muslims as minority in India, it would be far smaller than what would happen in the Muslim-majority Pakistan. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad wrote in unequivocal words in his book:

“I have considered the scheme of Pakistan as formulated by the Muslim League from every possible point of view. As an Indian, I have examined its implications for the future of India as a whole. As a Muslim I have examined its likely adverse effects upon the fortunes of Muslims of India”….

“I am a Muslim and profoundly conscious of the fact that I have inherited Islam’s glorious traditions of the last thirteen hundred years. I am not prepared to lose even a small part of that legacy…I am equally proud of the fact that I am an Indian, an essential part of the invisible unity of Indian nationhood, a vital factor in its total make-up without which its noble edifice will remain incomplete. I can never give up this sincere claim. It was India’s historic destiny that its soil should become the destination of many different caravans of races, cultures and religions. Even before the dawn of history’s morning, they started their trek into India and the process has continued since.”

(India Wins Freedom, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Azad’s statement on Muslim issues in India, April 15, 1946)

Given the sectarian killings and growing atrocities against the Sufi Muslims along with the religious minorities in Pakistan, it is irrefutable to state that Indian Muslims are best-placed lot. Though, of course, not in terms of economic status, but Muslims are much better off in India than the so-called Islamic democracies of Pakistan and Bangladesh. They profess and practice their religion according to their choice. But what is happening to Muslims in the neighbouring Islamic countries is completely distressing. Much in the same way as in Pakistan, in Bangladesh also, Muslim free thinkers, bloggers, writers and authors are choked to death. Religious minorities are the worst hit. Of late, Bangladeshi radical Islamists ransacked temples and vandalized homes of the Hindu minority in the Brahmanbairs district of eastern Bangladesh, as NDTV reported. (ndtv.com/world-news/hindu-temples-attacked-in-bangladesh-over-facebook-post-1586890).

Recently, Maulana Mahmood Madni, apparently discouraging the so-called Islamic separatist leaders in India, stated: “Indian Muslims are best-placed lot in this country, when we look around the world”…..They live as per their choice” (news18.com/news/india/indian-muslims-best-placed-they-live-as-per-their-choice-mahmood-madani-1308674.html)

While speaking at the annual India Foundation Conclave, Maulana Madni also laid out that Islam spread through the two channels: peace and the sword. “In India, Islam came with Sufis and not the emperors. Islam is not for ruling or establishing Sarkar (government). It has come to correct our own ways of life. It didn’t come with Akbar and Babur but with Chishti Aulia (Sufis of Chishti order)”, said the Maulana.

Isn’t it time for an honest introspection into the religio-political narratives of victimhood that the Islamist leaders are spreading in India? The conception of establishing a separate Islamic state is not a fiction that that the separatist leaders are flogging in Kashmir. They simply wish to further their political ends by eliminating the traditional Sufi Islam from the Indian state much in the same way as in Pakistan. It’s an opportune time for the sensible Muslims in Kashmir—the valley of Sufi traditions— to delve deeper into this ideological discourse. It’s time they introspected, came out of denial, gave up conspiracy theories and engaged in an objective brainstorming on what Maulana Madni suggests: Muslims are better off in India, as compared to the so-called Islamic states.

Write to him at grdehlavi@gmail.com

Ban on Zakir Naik not the end; India needs vigilance to save Muslim youth:FirstPost

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Nov 21, 2016 15:57 IST

The Indian government’s five-year ban on the supremacist Islamist preacher, Dr Zakir Naik seems to have gratified many people — Muslims and non-Muslims alike — who concern themselves with the pluralistic ethos of the country. But is the story over? How could this eventual ban bring an end to the process of fanatic indoctrination ushering in the age of Internet?

 “The story isn’t quite over yet,” says a Firstpost article. “Banning Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) will not undo the messages he has preached to youth all these years… There is a need to keep a continuous vigil. Naik might be planning his next moves sitting in Dubai, where he is currently believed to be,” it adds.

The above remark is not difficult to understand, bearing in mind that many Muslim youth from Maharashtra left their home to join the Islamic State (IS) earlier this year, some of them allegedly inspired by Naik.

Peace TV owner Zakir Naik. CNN-News 18

Peace TV owner Zakir Naik. CNN-News 18

Only recently, an alleged operative of IS was arrested in Sikar district of Rajasthan. This IS sympathiser was involved in raising funds from India, Bangladesh and UAE, and transferring to the IS for the last two years through hawala, PTI had reported.

Here, it is quite pertinent to note that the alleged IS operative was in contact with other sympathisers of the global jihadist organisation via social networking sites. An MBA graduate, who was previously working as an assistant financial manager at a reputed firm in Dubai, he has a wife and children in Mumbai. But instead of caring for his family and earning a livelihood — the most essential duty in Islam — he joined “those who are fighting for a cause”, and is “completely remorseless” in supporting the IS!

There are two crucial points that emerge from this instance of fanatic indoctrination:

First, at a time when extremist preachers like Naik and his organisation, IRF are banned in India, it is equally important to unravel “the cause” which attracts Muslim youth to such indoctrination and join the IS.

Second, as it is clear from the above incident, Muslim youth in India are being indoctrinated through online and digital channels a lot more as compared to the offline activities of the extremist Islamist outfits. Thus, countering online fanaticism is more urgent a challenge before India than banning a radical organisation and a preacher for a few years. Though the latter too is a gigantic task to accomplish, it is no less lethal than the violent spade of terror that attacks through bomb blasts from Mumbai to Kolkata and Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

Coming back to the first point, the major “cause” which lures the youths to quit their education and career and join a global jihadist outfit like IS is the apocalyptic theory being misconstrued by the Islamist preachers today.

The apocalyptic worldview or millenarian thesis of the radical Islamist preachers is a large part of the attraction for Muslim youth even in India. As propagated by the IS ideologues, we are living in “end-time” (an era close to the doomsday). Therefore, the IS exhorts the Muslim youth to engage in the end-times battle, al-malhama, an Islamic synonym of the Christian theory of Armageddon which refers to the final war between human governments and God.

Though nearly all world religions have prophesies on the end-time, much of the violent political abuse of this concept is seen across the Muslim world. The very apocalyptic theory was an inspiration behind the ideologues of al-Qaeda as well. Much before Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Jordanian radical Islamist ideologue Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Osama bin Laden and other radical Islamist mentors also talked about it but they did not give it primacy.

But for IS, the apocalyptic theory or millenarian thesis is central to its violent ideology. It believes itself to be one of the earliest armies to fight the end-time battle to defeat the governments of kuffar (infidels) and establish the puritanical Shari’ah in its global Islamic state. In order to achieve this long-term goal, the IS has actively engaged in the fulfillment of the pre-requisites of its self-imposed caliphate, such as the revival of pre-Islamic slavery in Arabia. The IS mouthpiece in English Dabiq has published an article which concludes that the revival of slavery before the Hour (doomsday) is imperative. The third article in this issue of Dabiq, entitled “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour” clearly says: “Enslaving the families of the kuffar (infidels) and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shari’ah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet… and thereby apostatising from Islam”.

The anonymous author of this article who seems to be well-versed in the classical Islamic jurisprudence, further writes: “This large-scale enslavement of mushrik families is probably the first since the abandonment of this Shari’ah law. The only other known case – albeit much smaller – is that of the enslavement of Christian women and children in the Philippines and Nigeria by the mujāhidīn there. The enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers… .”

Image courtesy: Inside the Caliph

Representational image. Image courtesy: Inside the Caliph

This IS author justifies the enslavement of not only the kuffar and mushrikin (non-Muslims) but also the Muslim sects other than the Salafis who follow the 12th century puritanical Islamic scholar, Imam Ibn Taimiya. Addressing the question whether Yazidis (the members of an ancient Kurdish sect that borrows elements of Islam) are entitled to enslavement, as they are “deviant” and “apostate” Muslims, the author avers: “Yazidi women and children (are to be) divided according to the Shari’ah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations (in northern Iraq).”

In a foot-note, the author also takes up the question of whether the enslavement would be meted out to the different groups of the Shiites. The answer is as follows: “The enslavement of the apostate women belonging to apostate groups such as the rāfidah, nusayriyyah, durūz, and ismā’īliyyah is one that the fuqahā’ (Islamic jurists) differ over. The majority of the scholars say that their women are not to be enslaved and only ordered to repent because of the hadīth, ‘Kill whoever changes his religion,'” it says referring to Sahīh al-Bukhārī, one of the six hadith collections of Sunni Islam. “But some of the scholars including Shaykhul-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah and the Ahnāf (Hanafis) say they may be enslaved,” the author adds.

Notice the resemblance between the above remark of the IS ideologue in Dabiq and that of the star Salafist preacher in India, Naik answering a similar question in one of his public talks. Naik justified rather more heinous crime of slavery, “sex slavery” with his masterful misuse of the religious texts of Islam. In the same tone and tenor as that of the IS author, Naik justified sex slavery in 2010 in his public speech (check this video) on the question, “Is sex allowed with slave women in Islam.”

Similarly, Naik’s views on death penalty for those who are declared “apostates” have no conflict with what the IS author has pointed out. According to him, if somebody wanted to convert to any faith other than Islam, the capital punishment would be the most “humane punishment” for such a person. This video of his talk on “capital punishment for apostates” leaves no doubt in the complete replication of Naik’s theology to the inhuman ideology of IS and Taliban.

Thus, through his TV channel and in other so-called Islamic Da’wah programmes, Naik has preached precisely what IS ideologues have. Several articles in Firstpost have candidly exposed Naik as an Islamist supremacist who speaks of sex slaves, wanton killing of apostates and justifies the terror crimes as heinous as suicide bombing. At a time when the world’s progressive Islamic scholars are outraged at the pre-Islamic practice of keeping sex slaves that the IS has now revived, Naik has justified the vile custom.

Just as Dabiq misleads the ordinary English-speaking Muslims of the Middle East, the first Salafist television in India, Peace TV founded and conceived by Naik has misguided scores of English-speaking Indian Muslims who are either gullible or oblivious to the grave threat posed to the tolerant Indian Islam.

At a time when the IS is flogging the fiction of its pre-conceived apocalypse in its bid to revive the vile pre-Islamic custom of slavery and establish its own caliphate, Naik and many other self-styled preachers of Islam have helped the extremist cult expand in the Muslim community the world over. But merely banning the extremist indoctrinators is not sufficient enough to stem the tide. As clearly evidenced above, this extremist tribe is growing more rapidly in the virtual world. The online media is being increasingly used to spread the Islamist radicalism. Therefore, the government needs to provide digital literacy to the Indian youth and civil society organisations, religious scholars and media experts to counter the online indoctrination of the Muslim youth and rescue them from the extremist ideologies.

http://www.firstpost.com/india/ban-on-zakir-naik-not-the-end-india-needs-vigilance-to-save-muslim-youth-3116838.html