Muslim leaders welcome Deoband ruling on terror

February 27th, 2008 - 6:50 pm ICT by admin  

By M.R. Narayan Swamy
New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) Islamic scholars and leaders across India Wednesday hailed a path-breaking edict by the country’s oldest seminary denouncing all forms of terrorism as un-Islamic. Most of those who spoke to IANS felt that the Monday gathering of Islamic experts at Deoband in Uttar Pradesh was timely and would surely contribute to setting right the image of Muslims in India.

A few emphasised that it was not enough to just pass resolutions condemning terror and ulemas, or Islamic scholars, should show courage and declare Muslim terrorist leaders as anti-Muslim.

“We welcome and wholeheartedly support the Deoband decision. There are no two opinions that all Muslims must fight terror and the decision is a welcome move,” Mohammed Hilauddin Quasimi, a noted Islamic scholar in Assam and principal of a leading madrassa said in Guwahati.

“Once Muslim intellectuals and religious leaders sound a war cry against violence, we are sure that Islamist terrorism in the world will die down. It may take time though,” he added.

On Monday, in an unprecedented show of determination, thousands of Islamic students and scholars gathered at Darul Ulook Deoband, home to a 140-year-old madrassa with followers across the world, and declared that killing of innocents was not compatible with Islam.

Maulana Marghoobur Rahman, a member of the Darul governing body, said that terrorist acts fell under the “shirk category of sins”. According to Islamic scholars, ’shirk’ is a sin for which there is no pardon.

It was the first time Muslim scholars in India, home to the world’s second largest Islamic population, took a forthright stand on terrorism - that too in an institute closely identified with Islamic theology.

Darul Uloom, which is also India’s largest Islamic seminar, has some 3,700 students who study theology for free for 13 years. The five years of primary education includes Hindi, English, Urdu, Persian, history, general knowledge and mathematics. A Darul Uloom graduate enjoys high respect.

Riazur Rehman, the Shahi Imam of Jamia Masjid in Bangalore, echoed the view of Quasimi.

“The resolution should have come much early,” he said. “Anyway, it is better late than never. Deoband’s clerics have made it clear that there is no link between acts of terrorism and Islam.”

The cleric also regretted that very often all Muslims got blamed “for the terror acts of a misguided few”.

Raheed Quereshi, a member of the Muslim Personal Law Board in Hyderabad, spoke on similar lines but emphasised that it was also vital that Muslims should not be dubbed terrorists without proof.

“Right from the blast at Malegaon (in Maharashtra) to Mecca Masjid (in Hyderabad) to the one at Ajmer (in Rajasthan), innocent Muslims have been implicated without evidence. A terrorist is a terrorist, whether he is Hindu or Muslim.

“The Indian Muslim is not a terrorist,” Quereshi added. “People who attacked the Akshardham temple (in Gujarat) were Kashmiri militants. It is a problem related to Kashmir, and Indian Muslims can’t be blamed for this.”

Ahmed Bukhari, chief cleric of Old Delhi’s 17th century Jama Masjid, India’s largest, said Muslim leaders should join hands and “devise an action strategy to put pressure on both the government and terrorists. Unless there is follow up, people will forget about it”.

West Bengal’s Animal Resource Development Minister Anisur Rahman, who is also a leader of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist, said that the decision at Deoband would send “a very positive message” to the 140 million Muslims in India. “I felt extremely happy with the outcome,” he said in Kolkata.

“The Deoband resolutions are a big boost to secular Muslims. Except a few wayward youths, most Indian Muslims are secular and peace loving. At the same time those who are into terror acts should not be spared.”

In New Delhi, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, an expert on Islam, said the Deoband decision demanded urgent follow up. “The clerics must also issue fatwas against people like Osama (bin Laden) and terrorists from Pakistan.”

(Inputs for this story came from Sujoy Dhar, Prashant Nanda, Mohammed Shafeeq, Fakir Balaji and Zarir Hussain.)

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