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.


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.


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.


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.


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

A matter of faith

September 10, 2009india today

A day after the Taliban blew up the shrine of 17th century Sufi poet Rehman Baba at Peshawar in Pakistan
on March 5, the muted outcry at a Khanqah (spiritual retreat) in the walled city of Bhopal could barely be
heard in the narrow alleyways. But the message sent out by the gathering of devout Sufis in Tila Jamalpura
locality of the Madhya Pradesh capital was loud and clear: they were reclaiming their space amid the tide of
militant Islamism, willing Allah to reform hardliners, or destroy them.
The next Jumerat (Thursday), it was business as usual in the Khanqah. An assorted gathering of Muslim
Chishtiyas and their Hindu neighbours was back singing a quaint hymn that blends, as they claim, the best of
the Vedas with the Quran. Harilal Sahu, a practicing Hindu neighbour aware of the practice says, “I wish
more Muslims would follow the lead of the Chishtiyas.” He need not fret over the perceived trend of rising
Wahabism or Talibanisation of Indian Muslims. The Sufi sect, or the Chishtiya Silsila as they like to call
themselves, is making a strong comeback in these parts, with more than a little help from ordinary Hindus.
In Bhopal, the sharply declining water level of the Upper Lake came a godsend for the Chishtiyas. The
dwindling water opened up a land route to the shrine of Hazrat Shah Ali Shah Data Chishti on an island.
Walking to the shrine with the Chishtiya Muslims during the Urs were cashrich Hindus Sarafa businessmen
who lingered at the shrine till dawn.
Last year, some Muslim hardliners tried to disrupt a chadar ceremony at the Dargah of Hazrat Roshan Ali
Shah at Chandan Nagar in Indore. Local Hindus gathered in force and made them beat a hasty retreat. During
the annual Urs at the same shrine about seven months back, another attempt was similarly thwarted by the
administration. A spate of such incidents is slowly turning Indore into a communal tinderbox.
From small towns in Malwa like Burhanpur and Dhar to Gwalior and places like Sagar in Bundelkhand and
Rewa in Baghelkhand, the Chishtiya sect is becoming more visible. The Urs at the dargahs of prominent Sufi
saints are becoming louder and more colourful and the qawwali is returning with a vengeance despite the
pronouncements of orthodox outfits. The district administration of Raisen estimates that the six-day Urs at the
shrine of Peer Fatehullah Shah in April attracted four lakh devotees.
Most of the Chishtiyas draw their following from the Sunni Muslim sect and thus bear the brunt of rising
hardline Islam the most. “There was a trend of rising extremism among youths till about four years back. That
is now on the wane,” says Rashid Khanooni, the Sajjadanashin of the prominent Dargah of Hazrat Khwaja
Khanoon Saheb in Gwalior. His efforts and stature stymied an effort by some Wahabi hardliners to hold an
Ijtimalike religious congregation at Gwalior in 2007 as the locals refused to be a part of the event, says
Khanooni’s aide Rambabu Katare, a Brahmin.
A London-trained lawyer who gave up his Supreme Court practice to take up the seat, Khanooni is the
vicepresident of the National Sufi Board, an organisation of prominent heads of Sufi shrines across the
country. The Board itself is a platform for Chishtiyas to run an outreach programme through seminars andsymposia. During the Urs at the Dargah in Gwalior last year, the seminar attracted wide attention with
speakers like Sufi Asgar Ali from Indore.
There are others as well. Delhibased Jamiyat-us-Sufiya, Hardoibased Sufi Sant Samaj and Hyderabad-based
Jamiyat-ul-Madaar are working on similar lines to preserve their brand of Islam. While other prominent
Muslim sects like Shias and even Sunni sub-sects like Deobandis, Barelvis or Nadvis work through
well-defined and organised institutions, Sufis have traditionally been allied to their dargahs. Nationwide
organisations are helping them overcome the lack of a framework to propagate their message.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Muslim Tehwar Committee has never buckled under the pressure of hardliners,
organising rambunctious, night-long functions for festivals like Shab-e-Baraat, something that the puritans
abhor. Its event in May-end at the Dargah of Baba Fareed in Bhopal saw prominent Sikhs from the local
Gurudwara Prabandhak Samiti lending a helping hand. Says the committee’s president Ausaaf Shahmeeri
Khurram, “We simply cannot allow our traditions to be transformed.” But transforming they are. Whereas
thirty years ago a prominent Sufi figure might have laughed off questions on religious identity, even the likes
of Khanooni and Khurram are having to painstakingly explain that their devotion at a Sufi shrine is Ehteraam,
not Ibadat, as the latter is reserved solely for the Almighty. Likewise, under the pressure of assault on their
very identity as Muslims, they have set out lucid dos and don’ts on issues like idol-worship, one reason why
even many Chishtiyas among Muslims don’t visit the shrine of Sai Baba in Shirdi any more.
That bolsters the critique that even Sufism is a one-way street, sufficiently diluted to suit the palate of other
communities but unwilling to assimilate their strands. While the Chishtiya ideology is slowly reclaiming its
space in its community, even a section of Hindus cast a suspicious eye on them. Prominent western
Indologists as well as Indian scholars have attributed conversions in India to Islam over the centuries in large
part to the drawing power of the Sufis. Says Kusumlata Kedia, a prominent voice on interfaith relations in the
extended saffron brotherhood, “It is not quite the melting pot it is made out to be.” Clearly, Sufism still has a
long way to go before it becomes the great equaliser.

Ram Jethmalani angers Saudi envoy

Saturday November 21, 2009, New Delhindtv

Senior lawyer and former Union minister Ram Jethmalani’s charge that Wahabi sect was responsible for terrorism provoked a walkout by Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to India Faisal-al-Trad from an international conference of jurists on global terror here.
Jethmalani alleged that “Wahabi terrorism” indoctrinated “rubbish” in the minds of young people to carry out terrorist attacks. The senior lawyer lamented that India had friendly relations with a country that supported Wahabi terrorism.
Following Jethmalani’s speech, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador Faisal-al-Trad was seen walking out of the conference, apparently taking offence at the remarks.
Organiser of the event Adesh Aggarwala said the Ambassador had walked out but returned after Law Minister M Veerappa Moily’s statement that the views expressed by Jethmalani were not that of the government.
Moily, in his address, said that terrorism cannot be attributed to any particular religion. It was unfortunate that the entire Islam as a religion was being blamed for terrorism, Jethmalani said, adding that “there are also Hindu terrorists and Buddhist terrorists.”
Terming Non-Aligned Movement and Panchsheel as evil, the former Union Minister said
India should align with forces of good to combat the forces of evil. “India and its foreign
ministers must learn to reassess the doctrines of past.”
He said India’s foreign policy establishment should be courageous to shun country’s relationships with its “enemies”. Referring to Jethmalani’s comments, Justice Awn S Al-Khasawneh, a judge of the
International Court of Justice, asked him not “to make sweeping statements.”

Why Muslims protested against Zakir Naik at the IICC in Delhi

MONEYLIFE DIGITAL TEAM | 19/01/2015 01:39 PM |

The office bearers and supporters of Ulama and Mashaikh Board, an organisation of Sufi Muslims protested at IICC against inviting Zakir Naik, who reportedly supported terrorists like Osama bin Laden
Over 250 Muslims on Saturday protested against Zakir Naik at Delhi’s India Islamic
Cultural Centre (IICC) demanding arrest of the controversial televangelist.
“The IICC office bearers need to explain why they have invited Naik who has even expressed his support for terrorists like Osama Bin Laden. He has also been against any kind of concessions to minority religious groups in Islamic countries,” Anjum Zaidi, one of the organisers of the protest said. Naik was invited by IICC to deliver a talk on Quran and Science on Saturday. The office bearers and supporters of Ulama and Mashaikh Board, an organisation of Sufi Muslims also gathered at the IICC to lodge a protest. “Naik is an enemy of Islam. He is an
enemy of Prophet Mohammad and his teachings,” they said. Accusing Naik as an agent of Saudi Arabia, the said, “We will not allow divisive Wahabism to prosper in this land of Hazrat Nizamuddin and Moinuddin Chishti”.

Former union minister Arif Mohammad Khan also wrote a letter to IICC president Sirajuddin Qureshi asking why Naik was invited at the Centre. “…in the present times when the community is under siege on account of the misdeed of handful of terror outfitsand the whole religion is being projected as religion of terror, it is important to keep inmind the image and impact of persons who are invited by the centre to interact with its members. A casual glimpse of the writings and speeches of Mr Zakir Naik in the past gives enough idea of his stand on terrorism that is plaguing the whole world particularly India since last few decades,” the letter reads.
Meanwhile, Zaidi also lodged a complaint at the Tughlaq Road Police Station demanding arrest of Naik under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). “We demand that Zakir Naik, since it is established that he has supported terror and terrorists should be booked under UAPA and his role be properly investigated,” the complaint reads.
Earlier, in December 2012, Darul Uloom, the globally influential Islamic seminary has slammed the religious views of controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik in a fatwa as doubtful, urging Muslims to avoid following him, says a report from Hindustan Times. “Although Naik, a doctor turned preacher, has gained prominence as a speaker on Islam, he has been a controversial figure because of his disparaging remarks on other religions
and radical views. The fatwa said Naik was a ghiar muqallidin, a term used to describe those whose teachings are not directly based on any one of the four accepted

All India Ulama Mashaikh Board protests against non representation of Muslims in Muslim affairs

Jagdishpur /Amethi 23-Sep 2013(RINA)

In a meeting at jagdishpur in the Amethi, the parliamentary constituency
of Vice president of AICC, Shri Rahul Gandhi a big group of Sunni Sufi Muslims decided to hold a grand rally on 24th November in Jagdishpur to record their protest against non representation of Muslims in Muslim affairs.
The meeting at Jamia Nooria Madinatul Uloom, Bahua, Jagdishpur Presided over by Syed Kaseem Ashraf was of
the opinion that the Muslims all over India have been misguided by all the political groupings since independence. Though there are instances of demonstration of some degree of sincerity from the government side but the implementation part of the story is destroyed by the elements who are faking Muslim representation in political
circles and corridors of power.
AIUMB meet with consensus issued a statement that central Government and state government has handed over the Muslim affairs who do not represent Indian Muslims i.e. Sunni Sufi Muslims. Imposed leadership of Saudi guided Wahabis Muslims on the patriot Indian Muslims is already rejected by Indian Muslims and AIUMB had submitted memorandums to the governments. It is also been finalized that Muslim Mahapanchayat will held on 24th November 2013 in which lacs of Sunni Sufi Muslims are suppose to gather from adjacent areas along with hundred of Ulema and mashaikh from across the country.
The participants including Syed Hasan Miya, Jais, Shah Ammar Ahmad Ahmadi Nayyar Mia, Rudauli Sharif, observed that keeping the Sunni Sufi Muslims deprived of the benefits of social, political, religious and other schemes meant for Muslims of India, allowing interference of Saudi funded/ guided elements in Muslim affairs and
ignoring the true voice of the community are some of the burning issues that have occupied the attention of Ulama and Mashaikh for several decades and now the state of affairs have become so terrible that All India Ulama &Mashaikh Board has taken to the streets and protesting against the anti Muslim attitude of both the union and state governments in several parts of the country.
They were of the opinion that whenever state or union government comes with a welfare scheme or program for the community, they choose representatives from the community to seek support in representation, but in the case of Indian Muslims i.e. Sunni Sufi Muslims the representatives are thrust upon them from a group of persons owing loyalty to an alien extreme ideology guided and funded by them.
The Muslims gathered at Jagdishpur were of the view that this continuous unwise step of the government is providing strength to extreme forces. This is ruining peace, destroying tolerance and creating rift in the society. These elements working under the influence of a foreign extreme ideology are dragging the society towards
discord and even after being warned several times the government is not lending its ear to the saner voice of Indian Muslims.
National secretary of All India Ulama Mashaikh Board Syed Babar Ashraf also addressed.
He said that Indian Muslims are deprived of their rights. This is a big loss. It is weakening the country. Muslims are on slide on all levels. The composite culture ofIndia is stained .It is essential to take a two pronged strategy to save the culture of the nation and give the community its rightful share in national resources uninterrupted by petrodollars funded elements .
He protested against thrusting leadership of the undeserved upon the community. He suggested that these aforesaid foreign guided/dictated/funded elements must be systematically removed from all the places of power gabbed by them by faking Muslim representation in religious, political, cultural and educational space.
They must be stopped from grabbing endowed Muslim properties which are essentially Sufi assets and a mechanism should be devised to ensure that will of the endower is honored in all circumstances. Syed Babar Ashraf said that wahabis are in habit of panned control of Endowed Muslim properties, Hajj affairs, Judiciary (Fatwas) and media. The Saudi government under a plan is pumping lot of petro money into India to control Muslim affairs as
India is a proud secular country blessed to be home of second largest Muslim population in the world. Prominent person like Syed Qaseem Ashraf “Hasan Miya”, Abdul Moeed Azhari, Maulana Ishteyaq Ashrafi, Mufti Syed Wasim Ashraf, Farzan Warsi, Maulana Ishteyaq Qadri, Maulana Zubari Ahmad Khan, Qari Abdul Hayee
participated in this AIUMB meet.

‘Cultural genocide of Islamic heritage’ in Saudi Arabia riles Sunni Sufis

By Rakhi Chakrabarty, TNN | Dec 11, 2012, 02.24 AM ISTTOI
NEW DELHI: A Muslim clerics’ body that claims to represent about 80% of Sunni Sufis in India has
protested against destruction of sacred monuments of Islam in Saudi Arabia. The All India Ulema and
Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, external affairs
minister Salman Khurshid as well as to the Saudi ambassador in India and the Organization of Islamic
Cooperation (OIC) among others venting the angst of “thousands of Indian Muslims”.
In his letter, AIUMB general secretary Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kicchouchhwi wrote, “… the
tomb of the Prophet is now prime target of the Saudi regime. This is sought to be done away with in the
name of expansion of the mosque (Al-Masjid-al-Nabawi) and developing a five-star culture in Medina
He said this was the most heinous crime ever committed against any religion by the ‘protector of its holy
AIUMB national secretary Syed Babar Ashraf told TOI, “The Saudi government should preserve, protect and develop the sacred places which are landmarks in the history of Islam. Instead, they are demolishing symbols of Islamic heritage, including the birth place of the Prophet of Islam, in the name of expansion and modernization.”
The AIUMB plans to hold a protest march next month. “We will continue to protest until the Saudi government reassures the world that the decisions to demolish Islamic heritages will be withdrawn and all the demolished sacred places will be restored in their original form in their original places,” said Ashraf.
While accepting that expansion of Medina is needed, he said, “It cannot be done by demolishing Islamic cultural heritage and sites related to the Prophet, his family members and companions. This is cultural genocide of Islamic heritage,” said Ashraf.

Reuter’s Column – Wahabi extremism denounced by Indian Sunni clerics

Mon, Oct 17 2011reuters

(C. Uday Bhaskar is Director of the New Delhi-based National Maritime
Foundation. The views expressed in the column are his own.)
By C. Uday Bhaskar
The ideology of Islamic radicalism and its justification of related terrorism as ‘jihad’, which is predicated on a distorted interpretation of the tenets of Islam, received a major jolt from Indian Sunni clerics on Sunday in Moradabad, a small town in Uttar Pradesh.
Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kachochavi, general secretary of the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) which represents the majority of Sunni Muslims in India, denounced the hardline Wahabi interpretation of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia.
Addressing his constituency of over 100,000 people at a ‘maha-panchayat’ (great congregation), the Maulana exhorted his flock to reject such distortion of the normative principles of Islam.
Bemoaning the fact that a small group of Muslims had given a bad name to their great religion, he added: “The time has come for us to come out and claim our rights. Let us take a pledge that we will never support Wahabi extremism — not today, not tomorrow”. Since the tragedy of 9/11 that felled the Twin Towers and the more recent terror attack on Mumbai in November 2008, there has been considerable ferment in the Indian Muslim populace (estimated to be 138 million as per the 2001 census data) about the distorted ideology which has been justifying and nurturing such extremism.
As is often the case, the larger majority of Muslims the world over are law-abiding citizens who do not support the malignancy of Islamic extremism — but have either been silent or invisible.
Thus, the unambiguous stand taken by the AIUMB which represents almost 80 percent of India’s Sunni Muslims — who in turn are the majority faction of Indian Muslims (the Shia, Ismaili and Ahmadiyya amongst others are estimated to be less than 30 million in all) — is a very significant development in the ongoing contestation about the interpretation and practice of Islam.
The stand taken by AIUMB President Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ashraf Ashrafi and his colleagues was long overdue, for many Indian Muslims had warned of the dangers being posed by the spread of virulent Wahabi ideology in Indian madrasas, which received generous funding from Saudi sources. The control of madrasas and what they teach and propagate to impressionable minds has been a contentious issue in India for decades.
It is regrettable that the state in India has chosen to turn a blind eye to this malignant trend for short-term electoral considerations.
Hence, many poisonous and anti-national ideologies and discourses have been swirling amongst the Indian Muslim constituency.Calling for the creation of a Central Madrasa Board that would monitor these religious prep schools, Maulana Kachochavi asserted: “Right now, the madrasas are under the control of Wahabi-inspired organisations which run on Saudi money. The ideology they teach and spread is hardline Wahabism”. The proposed Board, he added, would keep a watch on the flow of Saudi money into madrasa education in India.
India has been a model of relative tolerance, as far as the practice of Islam is concerned, for over a millennium and is currently home to as many as 150 million Indian Muslims. The factional diversity in India which has a mix of Sunni, Shia and other smaller sects is the envy of many Muslim nations and the syncretic culture that has evolved for centuries has withstood many challenges including the partition of 1947 and the more recent 2002 pogrom in Gujarat.
However, in recent years, the hardline Islamic factions that have an Arab-Wahabi texture to them have been gaining ground in India and many subtle changes have been evidenced. For instance, the common greeting in the sub-continent, ‘salam-alekum’ has gradually transmuted into ‘khuda-hafiz’ and has now become ‘allah-hafiz’. The word ‘khuda’ has been dropped since it is of Persian origin and is also seen to be preferred by the Shia populace.
Predictably, women have become the target of such imposed conformity and the new advocacy of groups like the Tablighi is that a ‘purdah’ (veil) to cover the face is not enough — young Muslim girls are now advised (firmly) — to keep a ‘purdah’ on their voices. To be barely seen and remain submissively within the family fold, in a silent mode, is the prevailing Wahabi-derived prescription for the young Muslim girl — a template that the Taliban and their adherents in Afghanistan and Pakistan ardently support.
The post 9/11 global challenge to quarantine and shrink terror predicated on a distortion of Islam cannot be won by military means alone. The greater war is that of resisting toxic interpretations of the Quran and insidious narratives that serve pernicious political ends.
The Maulanas in Moradabad have picked up the gauntlet. This denunciation of the distortion of Islam and the hijacking by the Wahabi school is to be globally commended and calls for many debates within the Muslim fold — with women and girls being allowed to voice their opinions about what constitutes a gender equitable interpretation of Islam.
The White House with its empathetic incumbent should be apprised about the tectonic potential of Moradabad in the war againstterror.

Indian Clerics Call for Eradicating Saudi Influence Among Indian Muslims, Advocate Message of Sufi Islam

November 4, 2011
At an October 16, 2011 conference in the northern Indian city of Moradabad, thousands of Sunni Islamic clerics and
mosque leaders called for countering the violent message of Wahhabi Islam and eradicating Saudi Arabia’s
influence among Indian Muslims, and stressed the message of peace and love advocated by Sufi Islam. The clerics belong to the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), which organized the conference, a mahapanchayat (grand convention) of Islamic scholars and prayer leaders.
The AIUMB represents thousands of Sunni Islamic scholars and Sufis (mystics) from across the
country. Its members owe allegiance to the Barelvi School of Islamic thought, which advocates
unconditional love for Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The organization comprises of 78 Sufi dargahs
(monasteries and shrines), including that of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti based in the town of Ajmer
and that of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia based in Delhi.
Unlike Deobandi scholars who support the Taliban in Pakistan, the Barelvi clerics approve
numerous syncretic beliefs and practices – including music and dance – at Sufi shrines across India
and elsewhere. The syncretic beliefs and practices at Sufi shrines are seen as un-Islamic by
Deobandi followers. It should be noted that the Darul Uloom Deoband, the world’s second largest
Islamic Deobandi seminary after Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, is situated in the town of Deoband, not
far from Moradabad.
In the recent past, the AIUMB, whose members voluntarily join the organization, has held similar
conferences in various Indian cities, mainly in the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand
and Uttar Pradesh. The AIUMB leaders plan to organize similar conferences in coming years to
counter the influence of Deobandi/Wahhabi Islam.
Calls for Eradicating the Saudi Influence
According to a media report, the grand convention urged Indian Muslims to reject the message of
hardline Wahhabi Islam, saying that it is giving the Muslim community a bad name, and called for
limiting the Saudi influence in the affairs of Indian Muslims.
Syed Babar Ashraf, an AIUMB spokesman, accused the Deobandi Islamic organizations in India –
such as the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind and Ahl-e-Hadees – of importing a “foreign ideology” into the
country, and added that these groups, which owe allegiance to Wahhabi Islam propagated by Saudi
Arabia, are “funded by petro-dollars and aim to grab political power.”
Syed Babar Ashraf noted that 80 percent of Indian Muslims follow the Sunni Sufi tradition – i.e. the
Barelvi School of Islamic thought – while Wahhabis wield control over just 13-14 percent of Muslim
community in India.
Syed Mohammed Ashraf Kachochavi, the AIUMB General Secretary, urged the Indian government
to set up a federal board for madrassas in India to counter the influence of the Saudi-sponsored
Wahhabi Islam.
“Right now the madrassas are under the control of Wahhabi-inspired organizations which run on
Saudi money. The ideology they teach and spread is hardline Wahhabism,” the cleric said.[5] He
added: “Madrassas, which are being run by the Deoband school of thought, are radicalizing and
poisoning the minds of innocent Muslim boys.”
Syed Mohammed Ashraf Kachochavi further stated: “We clearly want to tell this to everybody, that
we won’t allow the Deobandis and Wahhabis to grab Indian soil by terror and violence being
fostered through petro-dollars [from Saudi Arabia].”
At the convention, the AIUMB released a memorandum urging the external affairs ministry of India to
ask Saudi Arabia to stop “destroying historical places and preserve sites associated with the
Prophet, his family and his Sahabas (companions).”
Sufi Islam Described as “Deterrent” to Wahhabi Islam
Maulana Mahmood Ashraf, the AIUMB president who also spoke on the occasion, said that the only
thing which could be “a deterrent to Wahhabi terrorism” is the Sufi tradition of Islam.He said that
Wahhabis and Saudi petro-dollars have destroyed the secular fabric of India by propagating the
worst form of puritanical version of Islam, which considers Sufism as not only un-Islamic but worst as
shirk (unpardonable idolatry).
Hazrat Shahid Mian Chishti, who is in charge of the dargah (shrine) of the 12th century Sufi mystic
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, at Ajmer, countered the Wahhabi clerics’ opposition to praying at
dargahs, stating: “Millions of Muslims visit the Prophet’s shrine at Madina every year. Muslims are
following the Prophet when they pray at dargahs. Why should it be un-Islamic?”It should be
noted that every year millions of Muslims as well as Hindus visit the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin
Chishti, who is popular across South Asia.
At a press conference organized a week before in connection with the convention, AIUMB General
Secretary Syed Mohammed Ashraf Kachochavi outlined the threat to Indian Muslim youth from the
Saudi-backed Wahhabi Islam, stating: “Wahhabi-influenced terrorism has taken a section of Indian
Muslim youth in its grip…”
“Peace-loving Sufi Muslims are in a huge majority in this country but regrettably the major Islamic
institutions, including the Waqf Boards [which control collective Muslim properties] and the
madrassas, are under the control of cash-rich organizations practicing hardline ideologies. We want
to reclaim Islam from these elements and turn our youth away from the path of extremism and
towards harmony and coexistence,” he told journalists in New Delhi.
Speaking at the convention in Moradabad, Syed Mohammed Ashraf Kachochavi lauded the Sufi
traditions of Islam, stating: “About 100 years ago, Sunni Muslims in India rejected the Wahhabis.
After [India’s 1947] independence, however, the Wahhabis expanded their influence through
political backing. While we remained distant from government and politics, Wahhabis gained
control over institutions dealing with [Muslim] minority affairs…”
Various speakers at the convention accused Wahhabi-inspired Islamic organizations in India of
indoctrinating radical Islam among Indian Muslims by feeding on their frustrations associated with
educational and economic deprivation. Syed Mohammed Ashraf Kachochavi said: “Muslims should
be careful about such anti-national activities in the name of religion. If they find any extremist
exhorting them to terrorism, they should immediately hand over the person to police.”
Urdu Media Accused of “Boycotting” Clerics’ Message
A media report noted that the grand convention was “a sort of ‘coming out’ event for the AIUMB,
which… has been barely visible on the Indian Muslim political and cultural scene. The AIUMB’s case
is that despite their huge numbers, they have not been able to assert themselves because the
Deobandis and the Wahhabis have captured key Muslim institutions such as the Wakf Board and
the madrassas, and also wield political influence far beyond their size…”
The Urdu-language press, which has influence in the Muslim community, was not appreciative of the
clerics’ convention. The Urdu media – including the Urdu newspapers owned by Hindu proprietors –
is known for feeding hardline views among Indian Muslims in order to boost subscriptions. The
Urdu-language newspapers “boycotted” the convention or allowed significantly less coverage of the
event. Syed Babar Ashraf commented on the role of the Urdu media, stating that “a large section of
the Urdu press has boycotted us. They are controlled by hardliners.”[17]
According to another report in the secular daily The Hindu, the convention “appeared to have been
boycotted by the influential Urdu press.” A week before the convention, when the AIUMB held a
press conference in New Delhi, Urdu journalists were openly hostile to the organizers, arguing that
the AIUMB was trying to divide Muslims.
In its reports, the Urdu language newspapers generally avoided highlighting the clerics’ calls against
Wahhabi Islam and Saudi Arabia.
Clerics’ Message Lauded by Indian Commentators Arshad Alam, a professor at New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University who also spoke at the grand convention in Moradabad, noted that the Deobandis aspire to an Arabian model of Islam which obliterates the ethnic identity of Indian Muslims.
Alam, who has authored a book on madrassas in India, commented on the message of the clerics,
stating: “This movement is articulating the ethnic roots of Islam in India. It’s not just about a religious
identity but placing this identity in the national context.”
C. Uday Bhaskar, a New Delhi-based commentator, assessed the importance of the clerics’ call for
eradicating the influence of Saudi Arabia and Wahhabi Islam in the post-9/11 world. He stated, “The
unambiguous stand taken by the AIUMB which represents almost 80 percent of India’s Sunni
Muslims – who in turn are the majority faction of Indian Muslims (the Shia, Ismaili and Ahmadiyya
amongst others are estimated to be less than 30 million in all) – is a very significant development in
the ongoing contestation about the interpretation and practice of Islam.”
Bhaskar noted the growing Wahhabi influence among Indian Muslims in recent years and lauded
the message of the Moradabad convention, stating: “In recent years, the hardline Islamic factions
that have an Arab-Wahhabi texture to them have been gaining ground in India and many subtle
changes have been evidenced. For instance, the common greeting in the sub-continent, salamalekum,
has gradually transmuted into khuda-hafiz, and has now become allah-hafiz. The word
khuda has been dropped, since it is of Persian origin and is also seen to be preferred by the Shia
“Predictably, women have become the target of such imposed conformity, and the new advocacy of
groups like the Tablighi is that a purdah (veil) to cover the face is not enough – young Muslim girls
are now advised (firmly) – to keep a purdah on their voices. To be barely seen and remain
submissively within the family fold, in a silent mode, is the prevailing Wahhabi-derived prescription
for the young Muslim girl – a template that the Taliban and their adherents in Afghanistan and
Pakistan ardently support.
“The post-9/11 global challenge to quarantine and shrink terror predicated on a distortion of Islam
cannot be won by military means alone. The greater war is that of resisting toxic interpretations of
the Quran and insidious narratives that serve pernicious political ends.
“The Maulanas [clerics] in Moradabad have picked up the gauntlet. This denunciation of the
distortion of Islam and the hijacking by the Wahhabi school is to be globally commended and calls
for many debates within the Muslim fold – with women and girls being allowed to voice their
opinions about what constitutes a gender-equitable interpretation of Islam. The White House, with
its empathetic incumbent

Tufail Ahmad is Director of MEMRI’s South Asia Studies Project (

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All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board’s notion of only a particular interpretation of a faith is not desirable

20 OCT, 2011, 06.21AM IST, ET BUREAUET

On the face of it, the All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board’s (AIUMB) call to Indian Muslims to resist Wahabi interpretations of Islam, stressing the ‘tolerant, peaceloving’ nature of Sufism as counterpoint , sounds sensible. That is, however, simplistic. For one, despite its professedly ‘apolitical’ nature, the AIUMB has openly opposed the Congress and declared it is thinking of putting up candidates for the UP assembly elections.
Add the opposition to other Muslim organisations , and the statements seem more like a declaration of political intent. The AIUMB has every right to jump into the political fray if it wants to. But the notion of only a particular interpretation of a faith being desirable, thereby demonising all other forms, is fraught with problems .
True, the strict, exclusivist Wahabi notion of Islam has historically fed intolerance, even fanaticism.
Equally valid is the need to counter those forms and for Muslims at large to speak out and make clear the distinction between their faith and those utilising it for extremist ends. It is also sorely desirable that progressive interpretations of all faiths be furthered to truly realise the vision of a genuinely liberal, democratic India.
But the stated notion of only a ‘Sufi Muslim’ as a desirable one falls into the ‘good Muslim/bad Muslim’ trope that becomes part of the problem in the larger context.
Islam is practised by its followers in various ways, though the basic tenets are the same. Sufism too, even in India, is a complex phenomenon, with its figures playing multiple, myriad roles – from poets to even warriors. Negating all other forms, sects and interpretations is tantamount to creating a monolith in reverse, a mirror exclusivist notion.
The problem is ideological, even nihilistic , violence across faiths, perpetrated by deploying/ inventing theological concepts with political projects as the larger aim.In India, what is needed is genuinely inclusive , emancipatory politics, which does not leave room for clerics to anoint themselves as political leaders. The issue is much more nuanced than what the AIUMB would have us believe.

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Oct 19, 2011, 12.00AM ISTTOI

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