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The War Within Islam ( 9 Nov 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Critical of Jamiat and Deoband, Muslims' Body Plans UP meetings

By Ramendra Singh

November 6 2011

The All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), representative body of Sufi Sunni Muslims, is planning hold meetings over Uttar Pradesh. The AIUMB had created furore among Muslim Ulamas in its Mahapanchayat at Moradabad last month after its open criticism of Darul Uloom Deoband and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind by accusing them of spreading hardline Wahabbism among Indian Muslims.

The accusations - that the venerated Islamic seminary of Deoband was spreading Wahabbism among Indian Muslims, more than 80 percent of whom are peace-loving Sufis according to AIUMB, and that the hardline Wahabbism was spreading terrorism in the country - forced Darul Uloom Deoband Mohtamim (Vice-Chancellor) Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani to hold a press conference to deny the allegations. Nomani asserted that Darul Uloom was not spreading extremism, and it was the first to issue a fatwa against terrorism in 2008. AIUMB general secretary Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhouchhwi said they were going to hold panchayats in Kanpur on November 20, in Bareilly on November 26 and one in Sultanpur in December. "We will hold Panchayats in all districts and towns of UP, where we will urge Sufi Muslims to denounce Wahhabi ideology and the forcible capture of Sufi mosques and Dargahs by the Wahhabis using  Waqf boards and political  clout," he said. The Panchayats will be attended by Sufi saints of Dargahs in UP.

The AIUMB, which has a large following among rural Muslims, has made it clear that it will support any political party that accepts their demands which are: Central Madrasa Board Bill be passed to provide modern education to madrasa students; the management of Sufi Dargahs and Khanquahs be taken back from non-Sufis; reservation for backward Muslims; and implementation of Rangnath Mishra Commission and Sachar Committee reports. AIUMB has already submitted its demands to the Planning Commission and Prime Minister.

"We will support the political party that endorses our demands in its manifesto, we have the numbers (following) and that would be clearer to politicians after our panchayats in districts and cities across Up'' said Kichhouchhwi. At a time when all parties in UP are aiming at Muslim votes, AIUMB's panchayats assume a crucial role.  AIUMB has already criticised the Congress for succumbing to the demands of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and all India Muslim Personal Law Board.

Kichhouchhwi dismissed the allegations that the AIUMB was fuelling the old divide of Barelvis and Deobandis. "We are just asserting our identity and faith as Sufi Sunni Muslims; we are not trying to deny others' faith. For the last century, organisations like Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and Jamaat-e- Islami have had the political leadership of Indian Muslims and where have they brought them?" he asked.

Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi