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Deoband first: A fatwa against terror


By Devyani Mohan

1 Jun 2008

NEW DELHI: For the first time ever, Islamic seminary Darul-Uloom Deoband issued a fatwa against terrorism on Saturday, stating Islam had come to wipe out all kinds of terrorism and to spread the message of global peace. The Darul-Uloom had denounced terrorism for the first time in February, but had not issued a fatwa so far.

Saturday’s fatwa, signed by Darul-Uloom’s grand mufti Habibur Rehman, asserts that "Islam rejects all kinds of unjust violence, breach of peace, bloodshed, murder and plunder and does not allow it in any form".

Citing the "sinister campaign" to malign "Islamic linking terrorism with Islam and distorting the meanings of Quranic Verses and Prophet traditions", Mahmood Asad Madani, leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, had wanted Deoband to spell out the stand of Islam on world peace.

The fatwa, issued before a huge gathering of Muslims in Delhi’s Ramlila Ground for the Anti-Terrorism and Global Peace Conference, went on to say, "It is proved from clear guidelines provided in the Holy Quran that allegations of terrorism against a religion which preaches and guarantees world peace is nothing but a lie. The religion of Islam has come to wipe out all kinds of terrorism and to spread the message of global peace. Allah knows the best."

The conference was addressed by Jamiat chief and Darul-Uloom’s deputy rector Hazrat Maulana Qari Sayed Mohammed Usman.

He called the conference historic as Muslims of different sects and ideologies — including Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and All India Muslim Personal Law Board — ratified the fatwa against terrorism.

The exclusively-male turnout that read an "oath of allegiance" to the fatwa cheered most lustily as speakers attacked the US.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind leader Madani, an MP, stated that the fatwa should be welcomed by the entire Islamic world.

"Killing of innocent people is not compatible with Islam. The biggest challenge faced by us today is terrorism (which) threatens to strike at the very root of the secular structure of our society besides causing irreparable loss," stated Madani.

Notwithstanding the caveats like "unjust" and "innocent", which may make it appear falling short of an unequivocal condemnation of terrorism, the fatwa is viewed by many as a significant step forward towards rallying the public opinion against terrorism.

Coming after the February 25 denunciation, it is seen as reflective of the growing recognition on the part of clerics to counter misgivings about interpretations of scriptures.

Deoband has lately been under intense focus because many of the terrorist groups — from Taliban to Jaish and Harkat — are widely perceived to be Deobandi in orientation.

However, it was when the deputy rector of Deoband, Usman, came down heavily on "the dual policy of America" that the massive crowds cheered the most. "Whenever Christian and American interests are hurt in any part of the world, they take prompt action to set things right even at the cost of human lives. They maintain silence though when Muslims are the victims," he said, further criticizing the US for its support to Israel.

According to Usman, Jamiat recently held a series of conferences and meetings with madrassas in Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Surat, Varanasi and Kolkata to carry forward the anti-terror movement which was initiated at Deoband in February. Usman said that many people, especially in the West, were carrying out a propaganda that terrorism was synonymous with jehad.

He said that while terrorism is destructive, jehad is constructive. "Terrorism is the gravest crime as held by Quran and Islam. We are not prepared to tolerate terrorism in any form and we are ready to cooperate with all responsible people," he said.

BJP praises Darul Uloom for fatwa against terror

NEW DELHI: Generally known for minority-bashing, the BJP on Sunday went the extra mile to compliment leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom at Deoband for its fatwa declaring terrorism as the "most inhuman crime".

At the same time, the party took potshots at the Congress-led UPA at the Centre, saying its refusal to enact an anti-terror law shows that it wants to equate Muslims with terrorism.

Welcoming the Darul Uloom edict in his address at the party's National Executive meeting, BJP president Rajnath Singh noted that "Deoband is seeking to dissociate Muslims from terrorism."

But, he said, the Central government wants to equate Muslims with terrorism and on this very basis is rejecting an anti-terrorism law.

"Perhaps, the Central government wants to prove itself as a bigger messiah of the Muslims, even bigger than the madrassas," he said.

Continuing its attack on the government on the issue of internal security, he said the PM Manmohan Singh’s administration has "completely failed" to tackle terrorism and reiterated demand for a tough POTA type anti-terror law.

He spoke about the repeal of POTA, dubbing it a step taken with an eye on votebank, and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil's comments virtually equating Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru with Sarabjit Singh, an Indian on death row in Pakistan.

Singh cited the spurt in terror attacks in the last four years and reports about stock markets and sensitive nuclear installations coming on the terror radar to reiterate his demand for a POTA-type law.

"Even after being completely exposed within and outside the country, if the government does not feel the need for an anti-terrorism law, then this would not only reflect its immaturity but also raises questions about its honesty," he said.

The BJP president said the Prime Minister seems to have accepted that terrorism is a national problem and it cannot be dealt with at the state level.

"He (Prime Minister) has called for a separate federal investigating agency for dealing with terrorism. I am surprised that the Prime Minister feels the need for a federal investigative agency but does not feel the need for a federal law," he said.

"This means that there is a need for an army but not for arming the military," he added.

Singh slammed the Centre for keeping pending Acts against organised crime passed by BJP-ruled Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

"I would like to question the Central government about its intention on the issue. If they want to honestly support state governments in their fight against terrorism, then it should immediately grant approval to these Acts," he said.

He also referred to the issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigration and urged the Prime Minister to call an all-party meeting to frame a national policy on the issue.

"I appeal to all political parties to reconsider their policies on the problem of Bangladeshi infiltrators with an open mind....," he said.

Deoband plays peace card; a few call it bluff, adds Devyani Mohan of India times News Network in the piece below:

Facing the heat for being the inspiration for groups such as the Taliban and fundamentalist organisations such as the Jaish-e-Mohammad, HuJI & SIMI; renowned Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband has labelled violence and terrorism as 'anti-Islam and anti-national'.

Not only has the seminary passed strictures against terrorism as anti-Islamic, it has also defined terrorism as any action that hurts innocent individuals- a resolution that was adopted by leading Islamic groups at an anti-terrorism conference in the country.

TOI Online readers welcomed the declaration on terrorism. Jayraj Paleja in Berlin and MK Mohammed from Qatar felt the Deoband's anti-terror call was in response to the democratic values and growing modernisation of majority of Muslims in Indian society.

Ashish Behera in Kharagpur said, "This is a great initiative by the highest school of Islam in India and all people must uphold it."

Justin Samuel from Mumbai agreed. "The view expressed by the Muslim clerics is hugely appreciated!"

It was clearly a strong message by the clergy that had so far fought shy of engaging on the issue. "This is the first time that our leaders and clerics have realised that they should be more open to the public and the media. Though this effort came a little late, I appreciate the noble initiative," wrote Abdullah from Dubai.

Satyajeet in Bangalore had similar views, "The declaration is late but still a welcome step. Hope the religion of peace may eventually propagate peace."

SS Moorthy from Carmel, USA, said the Darul Uloom had done great service by denouncing terrorism, but it was now time to practice what one preached. "The present generation still remembers the creation of Pakistan and problems in Kashmir because of religion. This statement by the Deoband may help reduce fears, but it's time to put it in practice." Kushal Patel and Shekar in Madurai agreed - declaration was easy, it was the implementation that now mattered.

"This is a good development and a positive interpretation of Islam that everyone was waiting for. The message is clear - stop using religion as an excuse to further personal causes," commented Bijay Singh from Hyderabad. He was, however, unsure if the Deoband's message would dissuade young Muslims from joining terrorist groups under the pretext of protecting Islam. "Other fundamentalist Muslim sects will keep influencing young Muslims by telling them about suffering of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kashmir."