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

Muslim Mahapanchayat, Moradabad,UP,16th Oct 2011

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Pakbada Muslim Maha Panchayet in Distt of Moradabad started with a speech of the then President of All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board Syed Mahmood Ashraf who welcomed the participants and said that we have reached here to claim our rights. We are not in confrontation with anyone. This Muslim Maha Panchayet is supposed to convey to the rulers that we are practitioners of love and humanity. We are not practicing double speak. They do this in India they claim they are Sunnis and as they reach Saudi they take pride in claiming to be Wahhabis. They have mastered the art of faking Muslim representation. India boasts of second largest Muslim population of the world and out of this 80% Muslims are Sunnis. Even after 62 years of independence Indian Muslims are deprived of their rights and representation.

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They grabbed all the institutions that were historically Sunni Sufi places. Even Khanqahs and Aastanas are being governed by them while they do not sub scribe the basic practices of reverence and veneration.  The Muslims who came to India  can be distinguished in two simple groups. One came for political reasons, power and governance and other group came with the message of love and affection. Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti represents the spiritual side of the new comers and he injected love and compassion, humanity and coexistence in the society.  We are followers of Khawaja Ajmeri R.A. he preached non violence and human compassion. A time came when we lost everything to the followers of an extreme ideology.

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The reasons are easier to be assessed. As long as the religious and political both the leaderships were with Khanqahs and Dargahs and Aastanas we were in better frame. Now they say religion has nothing to do with politics. This is a conspiracy to deprive Muslims from their legitimate leadership and grab their representation. He described the times and tenure of Muslim Caliphs   including Abu Bakar Siddique and Sahaba kings  to bring home the point that political and religious leadership was instrumental in securing rights to the community.

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Maulana Syed Mahmood Ashraf also dwelt on knowledge and education and went on to say that Muslims in India have gone down in education besides other fields to such a level that according to Sachhar Commission Report they are by now worse than Dalits. He appealed that everybody must ensure that he might live half fed but will not ignore education to his child. He also insisted on unity and non violence. He said that every Sunni Muslim must follow the path of peace, non violence , Humanity and social welfare. He also said that anyone can see the culture of Khanqahs, Aastanas and Dargahs which represent the composite culture of India.

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Ashraf e Millat Syed Mohammad Ashraf Ashrafi Al Jilani (the then General Secretary of AIUMB) started his speech with conviction to the constitution of India which guaranties equality, Individual freedom and opportunities for all. We cannot change the past but get lessons from it. We must acknowledge that equality, Justice and generosity are among the basic teachings of Islam. There are few peoples who misuse religion for their personal gains but any of such acts is always identified as wrong. There are some other peoples who lose everything to gain strength for the religion Khwaja Gharib Nawaz, Ghausul Alam Syed Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir Simnani or some of them who will be remembered for their contribution to the humanity. Khanqahs have very delicate responsibilities to deliver. Khanqahs, Aastanas and Dargahs throughout India have observed that during these four decades materialism has grown much to ignore spiritualism. Khanqahs are no made to support materialism. They are not responsible to provide basic necessities of their disciples. In this background now Khanqahs have decided to take a stand in favour of supporting the disciples in all possible ways. All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board is a step towards this. Now we can do it in an organized way. As Indian Muslims we have our rights that are being deny to us. This Muslim Maha Panchayat has been organized to demonstrate that Muslims in India are facing injustice. He questioned why Wahhabis are given responsibilities to man and manage Khanqahs, Aastanas and Dargahs while they do not adhere to the practice. He said that the unity defined by Wahhabis is to remain silent in face of all aggressions and grabbings while AIUMB is committed to seek justice. He registered his strong protest against Waqf Board and placing of Wahhabis as receivers and administrators of Dargahs. He specially mentioned Aastana of Alauddin Sabir Kalyari which has been placed under a Wahhabi receiver through Waqf Board. Having a different belief system no Wahhabi should take the position of an administrator of any Dargah. As soon as this position is disputed the Wahhabis say we are destroying the unity should I say unity through the eyes of a Wahhabi is no less than silent submission. He also questioned the silence of Wahhabis on their identity.

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He said a Shia never hesitates to declare he is a Shia. The same way a Sunni takes pride in calling himself a Sunni but a Wahhabi can never muster courage to declare that he is Wahhabi. He take refuge in Sunni Camp. Hazrat Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhawi declare Wahhabiyon ki na Imamat Qabool hai Na Qyadat Qabool hai. He said that Allama Fazl e Haque Khairabadi and a scholar Maulana Kifayat Husain Kafi of Moradabad and other freedom fighters have been relegated into background. We fought for the freedom and in free India we got only assurances. Political Parties are playing the same game election after election. He said that through this Muslim Maha Panchayat we declare that we will go for the party that takes care of Indian Muslims. We no more need programmes we need implementation.

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Hazrat Syed Mohammad Mehdi Miyan Sahib Chishty (Gaddi Nashin of Dargah Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty Rahmatullah Alyh) endorsed Syed Mohammad Ashraf and say that Sufi culture came to India more than 850 years ago and it was introduce by Khwaja Gharib Nawaz. His message of love and peace brought Lacs and Lacs of peoples into the fold of peace and tolerance. He appealed the participants to support AIUMB and make its strides a success. The demands put forward by the Board are worthy to be accepted. He said that management of Waqf properties are duly to be done according to the wishes of endower. It is a complete religious affair. No one is allowed to trample the will of the endower.

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Hazrat Syed Zafar Masood Sahib Kichhowchhawi, In his speech, said that general secretary of AIUMB   briefed you of the memorandum that is being sent to the government of India. You have endorsed the demands. I will like to tell a few word on Muslim reservation. He also said that Indian Muslims have been deprived of their rights in last 63 years. We have been targeted by communal violence. Islam is the religion of peace. We believed in peace and coexistence. We protest religious ban on article 341 of our constitution. We will keep fighting for lifting religious ban from article 341.

Tackling Wahhabi Destruction of Islamic Heritage: Mainstream Muslims Need To Struggle to Preserve the Historic Legacy of Islam

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi,
New Age Islam

29 September, 2014logo

 

The radical religious ideology propounded by Wahhabism’s founder Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab professes to take Islam back to its roots, to the earliest era, ridding it of all the “deviations” that it says have accumulated over more than a millennium of intermingling with other religions and cultures. This is in stark contrast to the Sufi way of Islam, which aims to develop a more personal relationship between man and God and is more tolerant of cultural influences. Going by this, destroying Muslims’ cultural heritage is one of the chief postulates of Wahhabism. This theology of violence and destruction harks back to the ideology propounded by the 13th century Islamist preacher Ibn Taymiyya, who advocated a literalist interpretation of the Quran and called for the destruction of tombs and mausoleums.

 

Destruction of the Shrine of the Prophet Muhammad (saw)’s companion Hujr bin Adi in Syria

Since the time Wahhabism gained momentum as the state religion in Saudi Arabia in the 18th century, with the political alliance and financial support of the al-Saud family, it has been vandalizing historic Islamic monuments, graves of prophets and Sahaba (Prophet’s companions), Sufi shrines and mausoleums in the name of ‘Tawhid’, or belief in the oneness of God. Without an iota of doubt, Tawhid is the most essential aspect of Islamic faith (along with belief in the prophethood of Muhammad pbuh) and no Muslim can deny it. But Wahhabis take this belief to a completely different level. They insist that harbouring love for and showing veneration towards the prophets, their companions and Sufi saints buried in graves is tantamount to equating them with Allah, which is declared ‘shirk’ (polytheism). Driven by this ideology of universal hostility towards the cultural heritage of Muslims, Wahhabis take it upon themselves to demolish such Islamic monuments, shrines and even mosques built by earlier Muslims, in an attempt to revive their doctrine of  ‘puritan Tawhid’. They view themselves as “defenders of the puritan Islamic faith” and thus encourage their fighters and cultural terrorists who are wreaking havoc in almost all parts of the Muslim world today.

Shrine of Prophet Yunus (a.s) , before and after

ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Al-Qaida and Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Boko-Haram in South Africa and all other Wahhabi organisations working under different names in different parts of the Muslim world are regularly bombing and bulldozing Islamic monuments, tombs, historical mosques, imam Bargahs and other spiritual centres highly venerated by the mainstream Sufi-minded and peace-loving Muslims. Recently, the Independent, the UK national daily newspaper exposed the worst form of cultural destruction as an evil intention to remove or demolish the tomb of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

This came as a part of the mischievous intentions of the Saudi monarchy that have been destroying the historic heritage of Islam, vandalising nearly all major Islamic cultural monuments in Saudi Arabia. Already, a large number of the tombs and monuments of the family and companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) have been demolished. Again, the Saudi monarchy has offended the religious sentiments of the entire Muslim world by their obnoxious proposal to remove the Prophet’s tomb under the garb of extension of Masjid al-Nabawi (the Prophet’s mosque). This nefarious design sparked discord across the Muslim world creating sensation in the global media. Indian Muslims caught up with the news earlier through posts and sites in public domain that a secret report of the Saudi government had identified the tomb of the Prophet (pbuh) as the biggest idol of the world.

British newspaper, The Independent, was the first media publication that brought out the news of Saudi proposal to move the holy Prophet’s tomb quoting a Saudi academic who exposed and criticised the proposed plans. The newspaper said that “Wahhabi Islam, an offshoot of the Sunni sect, is followed by the Saudi clerics and its teachings prohibits worship of any object or saint and considers this idolatrous (shirk in Arabic). Therefore, Saudi scholars fear that the worshippers are treating the grave in an idolatrous way”. The 61-page document reportedly prepared by an authoritative Saudi cleric Sheikh Dr. Ali bin Abdul Aziz of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University,    called for the removal of the Prophet’s remains to the nearby al-Baqi cemetery, where they would be interred anonymously.

When this news created sensation in the Muslim world inciting huge protests from both Sunni Sufis and Shiites who greatly venerate the remains of the Prophet (pbuh) housed under the Green Dome, visited by millions of pilgrims, the General Presidency of the Two Holy mosques denied all such reports. In his explanation to this issue, Mowafaq al-Nowaysar, deputy editor in chief of Saudi Arabia’s “Makkah” Newspaper accused The Independent of “theft” and “mistranslating” an Arabic article that appeared in the Saudi daily on Aug. 25 on the subject. But what he actually wrote in his editorial in his Arabic newspaper “Makkah” clearly revealed the intention behind the proposed plan. His exact words in Arabic read:

‘‘فحول الموضوع من طلب بعزل حجرات النبی صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم وفصلھا بجدار حتی تکون خارج المسجد النبوی ، الی ھدم قبر النبی صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم ونقل رفاتہ الی مکان غیر معلوم ……’’

In translation, it reads as: “the proposed plan was that the Prophet’s shrine be separated from the Masjid al-Nabawi by erecting walls, but The Independent misinterpreted it and falsely wrote that the proposal was to destroy the Prophet’ tomb and shift his remains to an anonymous place”.

Surprisingly, those who have visited the Prophet’s holy shrine say that it is already separate from the Masjid al-Nabawi. Then, what was the compelling need for a 61-page document to carry out a research on it. Doesn’t it reveal something fishy about the entire episode?

As a matter of fact, there has been stiff opposition to the violent display of cultural destruction by Salafi-Wahhabi extremists throughout the Muslim world, but sadly, though not unexpectedly; it has not been fully voiced in Indian Muslim media, particularly in the Urdu press which remained hostile towards any criticism of the Wahhabi misdeeds. Even an issue such as the destruction of Islamic heritage has taken a sectarian hue. Several eminent Sunni-Sufi Shaikhs, moderate Islamic scholars and Sufi-oriented Muslim leaders came out with vehement verbal and written opposition and stern condemnation of the recent destruction of the Islamic historic heritage, particularly the proposal to remove the Prophet’s tomb. But while a tiny number of very local and limited Urdu publications gave them space, not a single leading Urdu publication, newspaper, magazine or any other Indian Muslim media outlets considered them worthy of media coverage.

In this situation, this correspondent talked to a number of representatives of the Sufi-minded Muslims of India who cherish and venerate the Islamic heritage and their historic past. Reproduced below are brief notes of what they said on the related issues.

 

Saheb Zada Syed Mohammed Fazlul Mateen Chisti, Gaddi Nashin or chief patron of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz’s Shrine in Ajmer, says that he received a serious setback when he knew of a Muslim organisation (ISIS) in Iraq claiming to establish the Islamic state, while at the same time deliberately destroying the heritage of Islam in all the lands it controlled. Pointing to the Saudi proposal to remove the Prophet’s tomb, he clearly stated “that those who cannot preserve the legacy of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, can go to any extent in their nefarious destructive works”. He averred that any organisations or movements rising in the name of so-called “Islamic caliphate” cannot be accepted by the overwhelming majority of Sufi-oriented Muslims of India”.

 

 

 

Another Gaddi Nasheen of the Ajmer shrine, Sardar Anwar Hussain Chishti Kazmi, said that today’s terrorists who loudly and falsely claim to be the leaders of Muslim Ummah cannot tolerate Sufi shrines and their patrons guiding Muslims towards religious harmony, national integration, pluralism, co-existence, moderation and the Sufi doctrine of peace with all (Sulh-e-Kul).” He said that the visitors of Ajmer Dargah (shrine) who took out a huge demonstration against the Danish cartoon of the Prophet (pbuh) in the recent past should be encouraged to protest against the mischievous plan to remove the Prophet’s tomb”.

 

 

 

Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichhowchhawi, patron of an influential Sufi shrine in U.P, India, commented that “identifying a structure as an idol carries the conviction of demolishing it and this is why Wahhabis are exposed as the biggest anti-Islamic tribe in the world”. He further said that “Taliban, al Qaida, ISIS, Boko-Haram and all other organisations working under different names in different places are regularly bombing and bulldozing Islamic monuments, tombs mosques, imam Bargahs and other spiritual centres in almost all Muslim countries. And the worst form of cultural genocide has been exposed as an evil intention to remove or demolish the tomb of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)”.

Although many other Sufi leaders and Ulema have issued similar stern statements  opposing the destruction of Islamic historic past and heritage at the behest of Wahhabi doctrine of violence and universal hostility towards culture and heritage, much more need to be done to put a halt to the current destruction of Islamic heritage around the world. They particularly need to devise practical plans and effective strategies to safeguard the holy Islamic sites, especially in Makkah, Madina and other parts of Hijaz.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-and-jihad/ghulam-rasool-dehlvi,-new-age-islam/tackling-wahhabi-destruction-of-islamic-heritage—mainstream-muslims-need-to-struggle-to-preserve-the-historic-legacy-of-islam/d/99313

First Asia-Pacific Countries Muslim Religious Leaders’ Summit in Turkey

MM-Award

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

October 17, 2015

 

In the wake of rising Islamophobia, terror attacks and wars in Muslim countries, the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey has come to the fore to exert effective efforts for global Muslim solidarity. During the last few years, it has organized several events bringing together Muslim clerics from around the world including a summit of Eurasian Muslims, the African Countries Religious Leaders Summit, a convention of European Muslims, a meeting of clerics from Balkan countries and a summit of religious leaders in Latin American and Caribbean countries. In a continued effort to uphold its noble cause, it has been bringing together top Islamic scholars promoting unity among Muslims in the face of violence stemming from sectarian strife and other internal struggles in Muslim countries.

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In its continued effort to reaffirm the global Muslim unity, the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey (D?B) in association with Directorate General of Foreign Affairs and Department of Muslim Countries & Communities organised First Asia & Pacific Countries Muslim Religious Leaders’ Summit. This 4-day international event brought together Muslim clerics from Asian and Pacific countries in Istanbul. Aimed at establishing global unity among Muslims, this event started on October 12, 2015, and lasted today after Friday prayer (called “Cuma Prayer” in Turkish language) in Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque). Thus, the summit will go down in history as the latest bid by the state-run organisation to enhance universal brotherhood and fraternity of Muslims the world over.

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The summit was mainly titled, “Unity in Multiplicity: Rethinking Hikmah (Wisdom) and Peace Together”. Nearly 125 religious leaders from 37 countries, from Afghanistan to Australia and to tiny Pacific nations participated and presented their views and papers in this summit. However, there were numerous sub-titles and other broader themes on which the participants expressed their views and presented their papers. Some crucial topics among them were:

• Muslims at Regional Level: Challenges, Solution Suggestions and The Possibility of Cooperation

• The Challenges with the Religious Education and Services in Islamic Institutions, Solution Suggestions and The Possibility of Cooperation

• The New Movements of Thought in Islamic World and Their Adverse Effects on Muslim Nations in Asian-Pacific Countries

• Common Challenges Facing Muslim Minorities and the Future of Islamic World

First Asia-Pacific Countries Muslim Religious Leaders' Summit in Turkey - A Welcome Effort 1Besides, there were subsequent sessions for general presentation of representatives of different Muslim countries. Mehmet Görmez, the head of the D?B and chairman of the Peace and Moderation Permanent Contact Group in Turkey spoke at the very outset. He stated: “the summit was aimed to re-establish religious, historical and cultural ties between Muslim countries and communities in Asian and Pacific countries and Turkey”. He further said, “We are here to exchange knowledge with brothers we haven’t met for decades. The summit does not aim to impose any thoughts on Muslim communities or take problems from other parts of the Islamic world to those regions”. “This is a meeting to discuss cooperation opportunities after a long period of inaction. We are meeting to exchange experiences on providing religious services addressing our age’s needs”, said Mr. Görmez.

Mr. Görmez also highlighted the “struggle within the Islamic world” and called on all Asia Pacific Muslims to help their Muslim brothers in the Middle East and Balkans. “All Muslims are equal. No one is superior to the other regardless of geography, language, ethnicity and wealth,” he said. He also warned that when people lose wisdom, peace disappears along with it as well.

Among participants of this international Muslim religious summit were Muslim clerics, Imams, Sufi scholars and officials from several Asia Pacific countries, including Afghanistan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. A number of eminent Islamic scholars from India and Pakistan also addressed the international Muslim gathering.

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Speaking in this event, Delhi-based apex body of Indian Sunni Muslims, All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board’s Founder-President Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchawi said: “Asia-Pacific countries, where most of the world’s Muslims live, are today an appropriate place to examine Islamic Movements’ status and direction. Across the region, religious and political dynamics are highlighting the possible future role of Islam.”

He further said that “Islam in Asia-Pacific countries is a legacy of Sufi saints who disseminated their pluralistic messages at a time when the idea of religious tolerance was not even debated in a large part of Western Europe. They laid greater emphasis on the broader Qur’anic notion of wasatiyyah (moderation in life) maintaining a moderate narrative of Islam which exhorts man not to transgress the limits determined by God”, he said.

Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchawi

Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchawi also said that “at a time when the extremism has penetrate the Asia-pacific countries in different forms, Sufi Ulama, Mashaikh, Imams and muftis from Morocco to India to Bosnia to Chechnya to Pakistan to UAE to war-torn Syria –including Shia community, have come out to tackle the onslaught of religious extremism”. “So far, Sufi Islamic scholars and clerics and their organisations have held back the tide of extremism and radicalism”, he said.

Syed Mohammad Ashraf strongly condemned all groups who are perpetrating terrorist acts in the name of Islam. “Terror is terror, it has no relation to any religion, and it is a grave threat to all humanity,” he said. He also condemned the last terror act in Turkey. “No matter which religion it comes from, we condemn such terror incidents, he said. He hoped that the summit would help rebuild deep cultural and historical relations and values between Muslim countries.

During their speeches, Afghanistan Hajj Minister Feyz Mohammad Osmani and Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin offered their condolences to Ankara victims, who were killed in the twin bombings Saturday, which left at least 97 people dead.

Audience, First Asia-Pacific Countries Muslim Religious Leaders' Summit in Turkey - A Welcome EffortAbout the challenges facing Islamic countries today, Saifuddin highlighted the role that education could play in confronting the challenges, adding that through education “we will be able to find solutions to the crucial problems that the Islamic countries have faced in the last several decades”.

Bangladeshi Minister for Religious Affairs Matior Rahman, head of Islamic Association of China Hilaluddin Chang Guangyang, Malaysia’s Religious Adviser to the Prime Minister Abdullah Bin Muhammad Zin, and Minister of Muslim Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka Mohamed Hashim Abdul Haleem also delivered speeches at the summit. Governor of Istanbul Vasip Sahin and Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas were also present at the summit. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus also spoke at the summit about the paramount significance of justice, freedom, and responsibility in Muslim countries.

According to the Turkish officials and organisers, the event was solely aimed at recognising Muslims in Asian and Pacific countries, exchanging ideas on problems of the Islamic world and discussing solutions, re-establishing historical ties with Muslim countries and communities in the Asia-Pacific region and discussing opportunities for cooperation in religious education and services. The summit also dealt with the effects of new mindsets in the Muslim world on the Asia-Pacific Muslim communities, the future of the Muslim world and Islamophobia.

Sunni Conference,Bhagalpur,Bihar, 16th May, 2010

In a series of high pitch mass contact program of the president of All India Ulama Mashaikh Board Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichchawchchvi addressed several Sunni conferences that witnessed lacks of Sunni Sufis in gatherings.

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Situated in the Sufi heartland of Bihar Bhagalpur is a town known as Mazarat ka shahr, and this nick name speaks a lot about the Sufi culture of the city. This came into reckoning on 16th May 2010 when AIUMB organized Sunni conference and people came to attend in a very number. It is said Bhagalpur has never earlier seen this kind of crowd. An estimate says it was beyond 4 lacks. Huzoor Asharaf e Millat led the congregation with his known anti extremist stand and in his speech he dwelt on all the issues that concern humanity i.e. universal Love, global peace, human compassion and cp existence.

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Maulana Nooruddin Asdaq  from Khanqah e Asdaqia , Maulana Syed Mahmood Jami from Khanqah e Shahbazia, Bhagalpur, Syed Noorani MiaN Saheb Qibla from Kichchawchcha Sharif, Syed Jalaluddin Qadri, Qaed e Millat Syed Mahmood Ashraf Al jilani  were the main speakers.

Maulana Asdaq pledged the unconditional support to AIUMB from his own Khanqah and other under it. He showered praise on those lacks of Sunni Muslims who came to attend the conference in heat of the summer in May. He gave an indication that AIUMB might take politics as a means to serve the SUNNI Muslims and if it happens, all present there will give their unconditional support. He said that the belief system of a Sunni Sufi Muslim never allows him to drift away from the path of truth.

 

Syed Noorani MiaN said that we are here to claim our representation that has been hijacked by those who do not believe in basics. All the Khanqahs, Dargahs and Aastanas are icons of humanity and Muslims in India should be identified with Khawaja Gharib Nawaz the spiritual icon not Zaheeruddin Babar the political founder of Mughal dynasty. He said that Sunni Sufi Muslims will not allow any body to grab their property in any garb.

Syed Jalaluddin Qadri Mian endorsed the claim of that Sunni UFI Muslims are more than 80 p.c in Indian Muslim population. He mentioned the contributions of Ahmad Ashraf in keeping the Sufi character of Bhagalpur intact in101_0135 face of aggression from Wahhabis. He noted that there are people who are grabbing the rights of Muslims by faking their representation. No one will be allowed to snatch our rights, destroy our practices and interfere in shariat. He highlighted some grabbing exercises in Kanpur, Jaipur, and Mumbai etc. He was much vocal against Wahhabis in his speech and extorted all present there to isolate them because they are managing to enter their ranks in garb of Sufis. Jalaluddin Qadri Mian spoke about Jaloos e Mohammadi and said wherever it is political necessity of Wahhabis they lead this procession to celebrate birth of Prophet PBUH and on other places they declare this birthday celebration has no religious sanction. This double speaks need to be exposed. He said we tried to convince the powers through our men but they all were hijacked so now Ulama and Mashaikh have decided to personally take up the fight for their laws, lands and practices.

The then president of the board Syed Mahmood Ashraf thanked all who had come to attend the conference from 101_0153several areas of west Bihar. He said the Indian Muslims owes to Khawaja Gharib Nawaz. He has not been settled in India by any Najdi. He said the relations of Muslims with India are as old as from the time of 4th Caliph Hazrat e Usman Ghani. He dwelt on misrepresentation or underrepresentation of Sunni Muslims in Muslim bodies and government bodies requiring mandatory Muslim representation. Mahmood Ashraf elaborated that Waqf Boards, Hajj Committees, Maulana Azad Education Foundation, Council for promotion of Urdu language and all such organizations were hijacked by Wahhabis .The share of Wahhabis in Indian Muslim population is 13 p.c. and yet they are allowed to decide the fates of genuine 80 p.c Sufi Muslims. He demanded this must stop. Sufi Sunni Muslims must be given their share in manning and managing the Muslim affairs.

He said AIUMB has no problem with the Wahhabis. They are equal citizens of the country. The problem lies in their agenda of faking Muslim representation. They have managed to gain access to the rulers by faking our representation. They have been able to distort the truth that Waqf properties are historically all Sufi Assets and they must be manned and managed by those who believe in the basics of endowment.

Sunni Conference,Moradabad,UP, January 3, 2010

All India Ulama Mashaikh Board has constantly been educating both the masses and the rulers about the impending dangers to the social fabric and national security of the country by the hands of an ideology led and fed by Gulf oil money.

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Moradabad Sunni Conference was a land mark in this tirade which saw a very big crowd in heartland of Uttar Pradesh coming to register their presence in favor of the demands put forward by All India Ulama Mashaikh Board , an apex body of Sunni Sufi Muslims and has been striving to make the government, political class, administration and bureaucracy realize that after independence the representation has been hijacked  by Wahhabis who are hardly 13 p.c in Indian Muslim Population , hence they are not entitled to man and manage Sufi Muslim affairs.

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This important sunni conference was attended by several lack Sufi Sunni muslims and was addressed by renowned sufi clerics and Mashaikh such as Mufti Attub, Maulana Mohammad Ahmad Naimee, Hazrat Hashim Ashrafi Kanpuri,Syed Mahmood Ashraf [ the then president of AIUMB]Hazrat Syed Zafar Mahmood, Hazrat Allama Tauqeer Raza sb Bareli, Ashrafe Millat Syed Mohammad Ashraf.

Hazrat Maulana Sted Mohammad Ashraf [then General Secretary] said that it is true that Sufi Muslims ie, followers of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaet are 80 percent in Muslim population of India and Wahhabis have managed to grow up17 to 13p.c. Being in such a micro minority they have succeeded in grabbing Muslim representation everywhere. This conference wants to make it clear before the centre and the state that they have been misguided in believing that Indian Muslims are diversified in two ideologies Sunni and Sunni, the truth must be recorded that there is another third ideology Wahhabism. Wahhabis approach the state and central governments as Sunnis and we have nothing to do with them. They do not represent us. Even this denial is not new. We go back in the past to see Maulana Fazl al Haque Khairabadi to declare that Wahhabis donot represent Sunnis. When the government of the day failed to give credence to yhis demand Bareilly took lead in making the announcement that Wahhabis are not representatives of Sunnis. And the whole lot of Sunnis came to lend their support to Imam Ahmad Raza Khan of Bareilly. Imam Ahmad Raza Khan said that we  do not accept Wahhabis in leading our prayers. Here comes the point to be noted by state and central regimes that if Sunni muslin refuses to attend prayers led by a Wahhabi, how can he support a Wahhabi in any other affair.

Hazrat Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf was supported by several lack Muslims in this conference. And there he coined the most powerful slogan of the Board “Wahhabion ki Na Imamat Qabool hai Na Qayadat qabool hai”.

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The other speakers including Mashaikh and clerics also spoke on the same theme.

Mufti Ayyub of Moradabad Quoted from Quran and Hadith to bring his point home that Islam is a religion of peace and it insists on mercy to all.

Maulana Mohammad Ahmad Naimee said that holy book Quran forbids needless bloodshed. Saying a life is equaled with saving humanity. He insisted on practicing humanity, mercy and love.

Maulana Hashim Ashrafi Kanpuri referred to the severe cold of the day and said that the intensity of the weather also could not stop these lackhs of people to reach here on the call of AIUMB. He said that it has been established that Sunni Sufi Muslims are 80 pc in Indian Muslims population and through this it gets established that mosques, Eid Gahs , Tombs, monuments and historical sites all are at least 80 pc our assets. This conference is attended by Sunnis of   Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Kashmir, Uttra Khand, Chattis Gadh, Delhi and Maharashtra besides UP.  They have all come with local complaints to say that their mosques and even Mazarat have been grabbed by Wahhabis though they do not believe in reverence and veneration. This mosque and monuments grabbing exercise is being denounced here. He named Hajj Committees and Waqf Boards where Sunni representation has been hijacked by Wahhabis. He also discussed unemployment, lack of education facilities growth of terror. He said no terrorist can be adherent of Islam. He said to stop terror from taking route in Indian Muslim society it is essential to attach them with Khanqahs, Aastanas and Dargahs.

This conference also placed a demand to declare 6th Rajab al Morajjab  a holiday to pay respect to Khawaja Gharib Nawaz.

Next came Syed Mahmood Ashraf, [the then president of AIUMB] thanked the gathering for this great show. He 2said we are not against anyone. We just want to secure our just rights .He dwelt upon the services of Sufi clerics in freedom movement and said that all those clerics, Mashaikh, teachers, intellectuals went back to their area of service to serve humanity after independence and the Wahhabis came into action to grab muslin bodies and other institution by faking our representation. They are only 13 pc in Indian Muslim population but are in a position to decide on our behalf. The Wahhabis took control of all Muslim affairs and thus led the community in this bad shape which has been described in Sachchar report as worse than Dalits. Everywhere in Hajj Committee or Minority Commission, Urdu Academy or Maulana Azad Education Foundation our representation is nil. He demanded the management of Sunni Waqf Boards be handed over to Sunni Sufi Muslims the true successors of the elders. He also insisted on peace and Mercy.

Another speaker Syed Zafar Masood said that the management of Aastanas and Khanqahs and Sunni mosques shall not be allowed to remain in the hands of those who basically do not belong to the basics of veneration and reverence. They simply don’t deserve to remain there. He gave a brief introduction of AIOUMB and also elaborated its program. Syed Zafar Masood supported the government proposal of creating central Madrasa Board and pleaded with every one present there to gather more and more support for this legislation in the community

Protest against Zakir Naik Speech in IICC New Delhi,17 january 2015

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Protest on Jantar Mantar. New delhi 14 Jan 2013

New Delhi 14 January 2013

In a clear message to the Government of Saudi Arabia, a big section of Indian Muslims today demanded here that the Saudi regime must sign a treaty with all the governments of the world and assure in clear terms that no damage will be done to the cultural heritage of Muslims and sacred signs of Islam in the Saudi kingdom.

This was communicated in a memorandum to the Embassy of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after a peace march at Jantar Mantar which was addressed by Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhouchhwi General Secretary of the All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board and others.

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The participants of the rally had come from various parts of the country with banners and placards saying among other things ‘’Indian Muslim will not allow Talibanization of India.”

Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhouchhwi in his speech dealt at length with the activities of Saudi authorities. The behavior with the Indian pilgrims was specially mentioned by Maulana Kichochvi who said that Saudi authorities force Indian hajis to practice Wahabism and stop the p pilgrims from performing rituals according to their practices. In cases even when offering ‘’Salaam’’ to the Prophet is carried out silently with a view to avoid offending the rulers, the authorities come down heavily.

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He said in some cases Indian pilgrims are arrested and humiliated and the Indian officers sent to take care of the pilgrims lend no support to their fellow citizens and willfully allow the Saudis to play their game fearlessly.

He said while in case of other nationalities their hajj officers and staff of embassy or consulate put up resistance and ensures their safety and dignity but this is not the case with Indian officers.

Maulana Mohammad Ashraf Kichhouchhwi also demanded that all the bulldozed cultural monuments and signs of Islam including Jannatul Baqee and Jannatul Moalla must be restored and developed and decorated accordingly.

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The gathering was also of the view that Indian officers sent to Saudi Arabia during Hajj are selected on the basis of their ideology and Wahabis are given charge of the Hajj affairs who have till now demonstrated that they are better suited to serve Saudi/Wahabi interests not the interests of Indian pilgrims.

Maulan Kichhouchhwi also said that Saudi/Wahabi influences can be easily seen in the government bodies of India requiring Muslim representation. Almost all such selections are done on the basis of ideology and Wahabis are chosen to represent Indian Muslim ignoring the very vast majority [almost 80 %].The Waqf boards and waqf council and Hajj committees are by now transformed as the centers of propagation of Wahabism through government machinery.

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He said demolition of Ghausia Masjid in Delhi is not an isolated incident it is well connected with the developments taking place in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India and of course in Saudi Arabia which is leading them ruining the cultural heritage of Islam every where.

In all the above mentioned countries tombs of Sunni Sufi saints and Godly Muslims are being targeted because they happen to be centers of propagation of peace and amity and tolerance in the human race much above individual faiths while Saudi Wahabi ideology refuses to concede tolerance and peace its real virtue.

Ulama & Mashaikh who have expressed their anguish over this sorry state of affairs include:

Hazrat Maulana Syed Mehdi Miya Chishti, Gaddi Nashin Ajmer Sharif (Raj.)

Hazrat Maulana Syed Alamgir Ashraf, Nagpur (Maharashtra)

Hazrat Syed Jawed Naqshbandi, Delhi

Hazrat Farid Nizam, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, Delhi)

Hazrat Maulana Nooruddin Asdaq, Nalanda, Bihar Sharif

Hazrat Mujiburrahman Urf Bablu Mia, Mainpuri (U.P.)

Maulana Mohammad Noorani, Sri Nagar (Jammu & Kashmir)

Haji Yunus Solanki, Vadodra (Gujrat)

Maulana Farooq Razvi, Ludhiyana (Punjab)

Syed Hammad Ashraf, Lucknow (U.P.)

Hayatunnabi Khan, Sajjada Nashin Dargah Hafiz Sb. Moradabad

Syed Ali Naim Chishti, Sajjada Nashin, Dargah Sultan Mia Sb. Moradabad

Hafiz Iftikhar Husain Sabir, Sajjada Nashin, Dargah Pahalwan Sb. Lajpat Nagar, Moradbad

Syed Shibli Mia, Sajjada Nashin, Dargah Shah Mukammal Sb., Eidgah, Moradabad