Kashmir Jamiat-e-Ahlihadith movement has grown - a profile

April 8th, 2011 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, April 8 (IANS) Maulana Showkat Ahmad Shah, who was killed just ahead of Friday prayers in Srinagar, took over as president of the Jamiat-e-Ahlihadith group in Kashmir in the late 1990s.

The Ahlihadith movement in Kashmir draws its influence from the Wahabi movement started in Saudi Arabia in the 18th century by a Muslim theologian, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab who belonged to Najd, in Saudi Arabia.

Kashmir Ahlihadith movement originated in south Kashmir’s Shopian district 150 years ago and its most prominent leader was Maulana Anwar Shopiyani who was also a poet and a religious preacher.

The Ahlihadith school of thought is highly puritanical in its religious approach. The movement spread very quickly during the last two decades in the valley after having remained localised in Srinagar city for many decades.

At present, the Jamiat-e-Ahlihadith has ‘Darsgahs’ (religious schools) in various Ahlihadith mosques spread in the length and breadth of the valley.

These ‘Darsgahs’ spread Quranic knowledge among local children and the youth.

Prominent Jamiat-e-Ahlihadith leaders in Kashmir over the last half a century include Maulana Noor-ud-Din Noori and Abdul Rashid Tahari, both residents of Srinagar city.

Tahari founded the Ahlihadith-run public school ‘Al Kulyatu Salfia’ in Batmaloo area of Srinagar city in late 1980s.

Although the Jamiat-e-Ahlihadith is not associated with either the moderate Hurriyat group headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq or the hardline Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani, yet Maulana Showkat personally had very close relations with Muhammad Yasin Malik, chairman of the pro-azadi Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

The Ahlihadith has been exclusively focusing on religious activities and it is generally believed among its cadre that this school of thought does not permit indulgence in political activities unless these are part of an Islamic state.

The killing of Maulana Showkat Shah has triggered tension and protests in Srinagar.

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