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Islam and Sectarianism ( 14 Dec 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Shia-Sunni Clashes in Lucknow and Bhopal - a Fall out Of Islamic State vs. Iraq & Syria War?

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

15 December 2014

Recent incidents of Shia-Sunni clashes in Lucknow and Bhopal cannot be seen as the result of traditional hostility between the two Muslim sects.

In UP, particularly in Lucknow, though Shia-Sunni skirmishes have a long history and the differences are based on hoary political and religious rivalries of two groups of Muslims during and after the caliphate of Hazrat Ali, the recent skirmishes seem to be the fallout of the Sunni-Shia conflict intensified by the ISIS in the Middle-East.

However, till now, Shia-Sunni sectarian differences have not had any serious or wide ramifications given the secular nature of India’s polity. Both Shia and Sunni ulema had hitherto displayed exemplary wisdom in this regard. They had restrained both the communities from provoking each other.  The UP government has also played an active role in suppressing the possible violent eruptions of these sectarian feelings. It had banned the Muharram processions to avoid any flare up. Skirmishes and clashes occur occasionally but they do not take any ugly or serious turn.

However, things started changing since the sudden visit by Dr. Shaikh Sudais, the Imam of Harem at Mecca, to India on a personal invitation of Maulana Arshad Madani to attend a conference on 'Azmat-e-Sahaba’, (Greatness of the companions of the Prophet) organized by Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind in New Delhi on 26 March, 2011. (See Related Articles). Sheikh Sudais or Saudi Arabia seems to have virtually given a contract to Maulana Madani to disturb the prevailing Shia-Sunni harmony in the country. The method used was organising huge 'Azmat-e-Sahaba’ conferences throughout the country, particularly in Shia-dominated areas like Lucknow. Praising the greatness of the companions of the Prophet whom the Shias despise has no religious value. It has only one purpose - provoke the Shias and foment clashes. This is how the Sunni Wahhabi sectarian terrorist organisation Sipah-e-Sahaba (the militia of the companions of the Prophet) was formed in Pakistan, leading to the killings of thousands of Shias.

In recent months, particularly after the rise of the ISIS in the Middle East, tensions between the two communities have witnessed a rise as a large section of the majority Sunni community lent a tacit or covert support to the ISIS while the minority Shia community expressed solidarity with the Shias of Iraq and Syria. This contributed to the bad blood between the two communities in UP, particularly Lucknow. The active participation of the religious leaders of the two communities in the sectarian war between the Al Qaida offshoot ISIS and the Iraq and Syrian governments has resulted in this hostility in the country.

While clerics like Maulana Salman Nadvi greeted ISIS leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi and Maulana Abdul Aleem Farouqui supported the guerrilla terrorist groups without naming them (like Taliban, Lashkar Taiba, ISIS, Boko Haram etc), the religious leaders of the Shia community launched registration camps for Indian Shia Muslims who wanted to go to fight in Iraq to save the Shia pilgrimage places. Around five Lakh Shia youth are said to be registered for that purpose. Shia leader Maulana Kalb-e-Jawwad too wanted to go to Iraq but the government of India suspended his passport citing national security as one of the reasons. All this had to have its fall out among the common Shia and Sunni community members. A few days ago, a Sunni Muslim called Kalim allegedly attacked a Majlis of the Shias in Lucknow. This created a tension among the Muslims in the old historical city. Shias took a procession demanding the arrest of Kalim. The protestors also chanted anti-ISIS, anti Al Qaida and anti-Baghdadi slogans which meant that the recent incidents have been charged by the ISIS phenomenon.

Maulana Kalb-e-Jawwad Naqvi has expressed displeasure over the suspension of his passport as he could not attend the pilgrimage at Karbala where a greater assembly of the Shias was held this year. Maulana Jawwad reacted by saying that the government was kind to the supporters of the terrorists as one Maulvi (not naming Maulana Salman Nadvi) had written a letter to the head of the terrorist Baghdadi greeting him and even promising to raise an army of five Lakh youth while the other (not naming Maulana Abdul Aleem Farouqee) had shown India under the ISIS map. But the government of India did not take any action against them while his passport was suspended though he was going to Karbala to fight the terrorists. Last month Maulana Jawwad had been stopped at the airport while he was going to board a flight to Iraq.

Another incident of Shia-Sunni bloody clashes occurred in Bhopal. On Thursday, a mob attacked the Aman Colony residents, mostly Shias with swords, Lathis and iron rods. They ransacked and burnt the houses, attacked men and women and destroyed businesses. About hundred houses and shops were set on fire and more than 40 persons were injured.

The cause of the clashes is that the Shias wanted to build an Imambara on the vacant land adjacent the Aftab Masjid. The Sunnis do not want them to build the Imambara. This led to the tensions and on Thursday, around 500 Sunnis surrounded the residents of the colony from all sides and attacked them ruthlessly. Even women were not spared.

This incident seems to be the result of the traditional hostility between the two community but the accounts of the eye witnesses point to the heightened tension due to the positions of the respective communities on the ISIS. The Sunnis have a soft corner for the ISIS as to them, the ISIS has established a true Islamic Khilafat and the Shias are against the ISIS because they have declared Shias heretics and worthy to be killed. The ISIS have killed thousands of Shias in Iraq and demolished their holy places.

According to reports, prior to the incident, some members of the Sunni community had threatened them to teach a lesson for their opposition to the ISIS. They had also been warned against observing Muharram and take out processions.

The return of Arif Majid of Kalyan in Maharashtra and his confession that he influenced his other colleagues to go to Iraq and fight for the ISIS and that one Indian Muslim was instrumental in arranging their safe passage into Iraq points to the rot in the psyche of the Muslim youth of India that the so called Islamic scholars of India have caused. Maulana Abdul Aleem Faruqi indirectly supports the ‘terrorist groups that fight from the mountains and forests’ (like Taliban) and Maulana Salman Nadvi is of the view that the ‘guerrilla organizations fighting for a noble cause (establishment of a caliphate) should not be antagonized by labelling them terrorists. Apart from these individuals there are organizations like Jamaat-e-Islami that have continuously campaigned in favour of the ISIS and Baghdadi and condemned those who condemn the ISIS. The latest person who has thrown egg on the face of Indian Muslims is Mehdi Biswas who operated ISIS’s twitter account from Bengaluru.

The Deoband school of Islam should also be blamed for bringing the ISIS war to India as one of the scholars of Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, a cultural wing of Darul Uloom Deoband, openly expressed his support to the ISIS justifying rape and killing perpetrated by it for a greater cause. Our ulema and religious and political organizations should take the blame for the waywardness of Muslim youth. It is strange and disturbing that our ulema are silent on the confessions of Arif Majeed or of Mehdi Biswas who always rant about the halo of innocence round our youth. A software engineer who earns a package of Rs five Lakh p.a. at the age of 26 is not satisfied with his worldly success as our religious education has inculcated in youths like Mehdi Biswas that worldly success is meaningless and that actual life begins in the grave. They feel that they need to help the Ummah prevail over others around the world. The way to do this, they apparently feel, is to support terrorist organizations like the Al Qaida and ISIS. This also demolishes the theory that poverty drives Muslim youth to terrorism. Arif Majid and Mehdi Biswas did not come from poor families. More importantly, these youth are incited by the well to do Maulanas who shuttle between Qatar and India with their big bellies while their children are educated in universities in Riyadh and Al Azhar.

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