Give up arms, Muslim clerics tell terrorists and Maoists (Roundup)

November 3rd, 2009 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Deoband (Uttar Pradesh), Nov 3 (IANS) Terrorists and Maoists were urged Tuesday to give up arms by a mass gathering of Muslim clerics at India’s oldest Islamic seminary here, prompting Home Minister P. Chidambaram to applaud the move “as a call to duty … to all right thinking people”.
Addressing an estimated 500,000 followers, the clerics said the Muslim community, the country’s largest religious minority, would take up their cause if the terrorists and Maoists shunned violence.

“If terrorists and Maoists agree to give up violence, they are welcome to join us. I would like to assure them that we will fight for them,” said Maulana Mehmood Madni, convenor of the annual convention whose words carry a lot of weight among Muslims not just in India but even abroad.

The event was organised at the Darul Uloom at Deoband, about 150 km from New Delhi, by the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, which counts thousands of Muslim clerics in India as members. The Jamiat is one of the most influential organisations among Sunni Muslims in South Asia.

Hailing the clerics for their bold declaration denouncing terrorism, Chidambaram said: “I regard the decree as a call to duty to not only Muslims but to all right thinking people. I would urge that more voices be raised, loudly and clearly, against terrorism and all forms of violence.”

Among the 25 resolutions passed at the convention was one reiterating the clerics’ opposition to reciting “Vande Mataram”, the national song, as well as to homosexuality and terrorism.

Supporting the 2006 fatwa, or Islamic decree, against “Vande Mataram”, the clerics said that some of its lines were “against the religious principles of Islam”.

“We cannot bow before anybody other than the Allah. It is un-Islamic,” Moulana Muizuddin of the Jamiat told IANS. Muslim clerics issued the fatwa against the national song in 2006. They contend that “Vande Mataram” means “Mother (India), I bow to thee!”.

The gathering also demanded reservation in jobs for Muslims as well as implementation of the recommendations of the Sachar Commission, which detailed the socio-economic backwardness of Muslims in India, while seeking a new legislation to equate communal violence with terrorism.

For the first time, some Hindu religious activists also attended the convention - a first in the history of the Islamic seminary, which came up

during the British colonial era.

Renowned yoga guru Swami Ramdev sought to promote his method of keeping fit. He emphasised the need to promote communal harmony. “It is high time people realized that ‘Ishwar’ and ‘Allah’ were two names of one and the only god.”

Swami Agnivesh drew much applause when he talked about banning liquor and urged Muslims not to recite Vande Mataram.

In his speech, Chidambaram described the 1992 razing of the Babri Masjid as a manifestation of “extreme prejudice”. He emphasized that communalism was against pluralism and opposed political freedom to people.

“Communalism is the negation of pluralism. Communalism also opposes modernity, rejects the idea of civil society, and opposes political freedom to the people,” Chidambaram told the gathering.

“The demolition of the Babri Masjid was a manifestation of religious fanaticism and an act of extreme prejudice. Likewise, taking to the path of violence in the name of religion must also be deplored in unequivocal terms,” he said.

Chidambaram said India, home to the world’s third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan, could not view Islam as an “alien faith”.

“Our Muslim brethren are honoured citizens of India. This is the land of your forbears; this is the land of your birth; and this is where you will live and work. It is a matter of pride for us that all major religions of the world, including Islam, exist and thrive in India.”

The minister said civil society was based on a compact and tolerance was at the core of this compact.

Minister of State for Communications Sachin Pilot, All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s senior vice president Maulana Kalbe Sadiq and social activist Swami Agnivesh also addressed the gathering.

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