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Islam and Politics (10 Jan 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Deoband- Bareilly Unity: Cosmetic and Dangerous

By Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam

5 January 2016

Sectarian unity is certainly an admirable goal. The intention behind it, however, is also very important. Wahhabi Deobandi and Sufi-Barelvi sects, who call each other kafir (infidel), are seeking to unite for some months now.  But towards what end?

The initiative was taken by Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan of Bareilly who visited Deoband in May 2016, following the International Sufi Conference in March, attended by the Prime Minister, in which he was not invited. Deobandi Maulana Mahmood Madani of Jamiat-ul-Ulema held reciprocated with a mega gathering at Ajmer Sharif along with Bareilvis a few months later in November.

Deobandis are touting their new-found love of Sufism, and claiming to be followers of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer. They even published in front page ads in Urdu newspapers their Shijra (pedigree), showing the proximity of their elders to Sufi Shaikh. They sought to bury the hatchet after a century of sectarian war with Sufi-Bareilvis in which they called Sufism a “pollution” and “perversion” of Islam. As recently as in March 2016, the Jamiat chief, Maulana Arshad Madani had severely castigated the World Sufi Forum as the BJP-led government’s bid to divide the Muslim community over Sufism vs. Wahhabism. He had said: “Sufism is nothing: It is no sect of Islam and is not found in the Quran. This is a thing for those who don’t know Quran and Hadith.” Even in the Ajmer Conference, Deobandi leaders did not express any regret over the abuses heaped on Sufism. Deoband did not display any change in their theological understanding of Sufism.

Deobandis ending their century-old schism with Sufis and Bareilvis, initiated by them, would have been a momentous occasion. But they merely resolved to fought any change in Muslim Personal Law. One can only conclude that Deoband is merely trying to create and lead as large a front of Muslims against the BJP-led government as possible. It knows that despite Wahhabism’s recent Saudi Petrodollar-inspired growth, Deoband still has fewer followers. By and large Indian Muslims continue to remain Sufism-oriented. It’s not only Deoband, however, that is seeking unity with Sufi-Bareilvis merely for political reasons. Even Maulana Tauqeer Raza Barelvi had said while visiting Deoband: “We should stick to our religious (sectarian?) beliefs and get united to fight with common enemy, this is the only way out.”

      Who is the enemy? The BJP-led government, of course. But why now?  Primarily because it is showing signs of allowing gender justice-based reforms in Muslim Personal Law. While this has embarrassed and silenced Sufi Ulema and Mashaikh Board which had invited the Prime Minister to speak from its forum, all other groups are trying to unite to oppose the possibility of a ban on instant triple talaq.

      For Deoband, however, there is an additional factor. It has been close to the powers that be for most of our post-independence years. Now it is feeling disempowered. So, while opposing a possible reform in Muslim Personal Law, it is also telling the government that we too are Sufis if that is what you prefer: align with us.

     Bringing Muslims together on a purported platform of protecting the religion and fighting the kafir is not difficult. A belief in Islamic supremacy has been promoted among Muslims for centuries. All madrasas, Barelvi or Deobandi, teach principles of fatwa from Rasmul Mufti (Roadmap for Muftis). Two principles are taught repeatedly.

a) Al-islamu Ya'lu Yu'la Wala 'alaih (Islam will always be superior or victorious; It will never be surpassed or defeated)

b) Al-kufru millatun wahida (all Kafirs are one nation). 

No wonder, Barelvi Muftis have no objection to Tauqeer Reza Khan uniting with Deobandis for fighting the “kafir” government. But when one of their own, Pakistani scholar Maulana Tahirul Qadri, suggested ways for genuine sectarian unity in a book “Firqa Parasti Ka Khatima Kaise Ho” (How to end Sectarianism), the same Barelvi Muftis issued a fatwa against him.

Muslims of every sect are Kafirs in the eyes of ulema of other sects. Solving ideological disputes to unite with each other is unthinkable. But, they can and should unite to fight the Kafirs of a different religion.

As long as this Muslim-Kafir binary informs the consensus theology of ulema, it will be difficult for Muslims to live amicably with others. Temporary sectarian unity which could threaten permanent communal harmony is not the way forward. As Muslims, we need to not only bridge our internal divides, but also stop thinking in terms of Kafir and Momin. We cannot survive as Muslims in the 21st century multicultural world with our antiquated notions of supremacy and separatism.


Sultan Shahin is the founding editor of a Delhi-based progressive Islamic website NewAgeIslam.com.

First published in Mail Today and dailyo.in on 6 Jan 2017  

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/sultan-shahin,-founding-editor,-new-age-islam/deoband--bareilly-unity--cosmetic-and-dangerous/d/109667

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  • Dear Sudeep Kumar

     I am touched by your sentiments. I am also among those who love all people regardless of religion. As your father is Urdu teacher he may tell you that there is one single line in the classical urdu poetry that is insulting to the Hidus or Hiduism. My late dad (died in 75) had  scores of Hindu customers who visited him at Calcutta from different parts of India for business transactins. I never heard one word against the Hindus from his mouth – and he was a very devout Muslims. I hope time is not toofar away when your wish will be fulfilled and “indian Muslims will exhibit a new direction to world to balance emotional confilict.” – but this will not happen until the mainstream society begins to understand the root cause of anti-Hindu sentiments and Muslims in Pakistan and the Hindus in India realize the need for burying the hatchet.

    By muhammad yunus - 1/17/2017 9:39:50 PM

  • Dear Truth, Sultan Shahin Sahab is NOT defaming Islam. He is only discharging his duty as a Muslim as spelled out in the following key pronouncement of the Qur'an: “Thus We have made you a justly balanced community, that you may be witnesses to humanity, and the Messenger, a witness to you..." The notion of dividing the world between Muslims and non-Muslims is purely a construct of history, promoted by some ambitious rulers to support their hegemonic ambitions.
    By muhammad yunus - 1/17/2017 9:09:39 PM

  • Dear Pervez Ahmed

    If it is indeed true that the listed principles i) Islam will always be superior or victorious ii) all Kafirs are one nation - is taught in all Barelvi and Deobadi madrassas, then those who teach these principles stand to go down as kafirin in their divine records and Sultan Shahin Sahab a witness to truth for bringing across the dimension of kufr in the madrassa teachings.

    The truth as spelled out in my duly exegetic work referenced below – based on an in-depth probe into the fundamental concepts and notions of the Qur’an is that the Qur’an envisions “a universal brotherhood of humanity that will allow people of diverse faith, culture, color and language to live together, to know each other and to assist each other to make life easy and peaceful for all human beings.” [Ch. 9.7]

    2. I totally disagree with you that this article "promotes hatred against Muslims and Islam." If what he wrote is true then the madrassas are spreading hatred against the non-Muslims which constitutes 'kufr' from Qur'anic universal perspective and hate crime for this era for which  they may be forced by law to expunge any hate inducing material from their curriculum.

    By muhammad yunus - 1/17/2017 9:00:21 PM

  • The way SULTAN SHAHIN is defaming islam, if i start just qouting Vedas, what can i expect from Hindus. They would abuse me and label me as 'hater', but in case of Sultah Shahin they are happy because he is making them happy 
    By Truth - 1/17/2017 6:42:25 AM

  • But for the refined people like Sultan Shahin, Islam might have been banned in all secular countries. Every post of Mr. Shahin makes me believe that finally Islam also got its reformer like Martin Luther King . Only I am pained to see how he gets vilified by most Muslims while Zakir Naiks draw hoardes of Muslim followers. I can not appreciate enough Shri Sultan Shahin for maintaing his honesty in face of such strong challenges from Muslims only.

    By Ajoy Chakra - 1/16/2017 8:39:31 PM

  • Although every religion comes with its share of flaws and Hinduism is no exception ....But Hinduism has enough space for every sect and we are still fighting for equality among all castes and creed...Before abusing Sultan Sahab, first try to understand what he wants to say....He has not abused anyone....He just wants Muslims to be a perfect fusion of Western and Eastern values...The KORAN prohibits human beings to label anyone as Kafirs because of the prejudiced mindset.....Place your argument on logic .......
    By Kartikaey Pulkit Mishra - 1/16/2017 8:37:09 PM

  • This post is not from a muslim. Although his name looks like a muslim. Actually he is an agent and his only mission is to promote hatred against muslim and Islam.
    By Pervez Ahmed - 1/16/2017 8:36:28 PM

  • Beautiful, I entirely agree with Ghulam Mohiyuddin. It does not mean that " Nauozibilla" we want changes in Holy Quran.

    By Nizam Elahi - 1/16/2017 8:33:09 PM

  • #सच्ची_घटना एक गांव में राजपूत, ब्राह्मण, बनिये, तेली, हरिजन आदि जातिके लोग रहते थे, सभी मिलजुल कर शान्ति से रहते थे। एक दिन गांव के मुखिया के पास एक मुस्लिम अपनी पत्नी और आठ बच्चों के साथ आया और गांव मे रहने की भीख मांगने लगा। गांव वालों ने फैसला किया ओर उस मुस्लिम को रहने की अनुमति दी ,लेकिन तेली और हरिजनों ने इसका विरोध किया पर राजपूतों और ब्राह्मणों ने नहीं माना ओर मुस्लिम को गांव मे रहने की अनुमति दे दी। दिन गुजरते गये और मुस्लिम के आठों बच्चे बड़े हो गए जब उनकी शादी की बारी आई तो मुस्लिम पहले राजपूतों के पास गया और बोला कि हुजूर बच्चों की शादी होनेवाली है और मेरे पास एक ही घर हैं तो राजपूतों ने उसको एक बंजर जमीन दे दी और कहा कि तुम उस पर घर बना कर रहो । इसके बाद मुस्लिम बनिये के पास गया और उससे पैसे उधार लिए । कुछ समय बाद उन आठों बच्चों के ७४ बच्चे हुए और देखते ही देखते लगभग ३० सालों मे उस गांव में मुस्लिमों की जनसंख्या ४०% हो गई। अब मुस्लिम लड़के अपनी आदत अनुसार हिन्दुओं से झगड़ा करने लगे और उनकी औरतों को छेड़ने लगे । धीरे धीरे ब्राह्मणों ओर बनियों ने वो गांव छोड़ दिया। एक दिन गांव के मुख्य मंदिर को मुस्लिमों ने तोड़ दिया और उस पर मस्जिद बनाने लगे तब वहां पर राजपूत उनको रोकने लगे तो वो मुस्लिम बोला कि जो अल्लाह के काम में रुकावट डाले उसे काट डालो। इस तरह राजपूतों ने वो गांव छोड़ दिया और जाते जाते तेली और हरिजनों से बोले की हमने तुम्हारी बात न मानकर उस मुल्ले पर भरोसा किया और आज हमें गांव छोड़कर जाना पड़ रहा है। इस प्रकार उस गांव का नाम पंचवटी से बदलकर रहिमाबाद हो गया है तथा यह गांव महाराष्ट्र के अमरावती जिले में स्थित है। कुछ ऐसे ही हो रहा है भारत का इस्लामीकरण।।
    By Kartikaswara Gouda - 1/16/2017 8:27:26 PM

  • (Abusive word deleted..... Editor) moron... Rss ka chmacha
    By Nayeem Lone - 1/16/2017 8:26:39 PM

  • This man is paid agent of Jews and defame, muslims and Islam. It is his carear goal, and he has nothing to do with any good to muslim soceity.
    By Manzar Khan - 1/16/2017 8:11:05 PM

  • Mollah All though the issue s are very surprising ly controversial issues,but needs a proximity of its aspirants annalicies,,to finds outs the deviattion,,&it's deterrent values to conclusion of a legitimate logical endeavour to human development in terms of sharias,,hadish,,etc...I thinks ur judicious minds may also culminating to do the best of Islamic faiths,,in culcating theirs aspirations in theology,of true of benevolent Islam....Ameen
    By M A Ohab - 1/16/2017 8:08:40 PM

  • Now today...islam is same word to terrorism..
    By Arkajyoti Batabyal - 1/16/2017 8:05:12 PM

  • The main cause of hate mongering is the quranic division of Muslim vs kafir !! 
    It creates a superiority complex among the muslims and they consider them part of a elite club who will get preference in heaven . That ideology is the root of all evil . 
    Unless muslims delete that word from dictionary and quran , no reform can ever come through !!

    By Deep Krishna Sharma - 1/16/2017 7:55:26 PM

  • Like every religion, reforms in Islam is met with resistance. I don't get the countless justifications that many Muslim columnists offer against the abolition of triple talaq ... And convenient collaborations as these are not going to last.
    By Deepa Natarajan - 1/16/2017 7:47:27 PM

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