March 12: Islamic clerics have for the first time in the country asked militant organisations not to name themselves after Prophet Mohammad.
The immediate provocation for the decree appears to be a claim by a little-known organisation, Lashkar-e-Qahar, that it was behind the Varanasi blasts.
The four fatwas, issued by leading clerics of Hyderabad, do not have binding powers but they reflect the eagerness of the community to prevent militant groups from besmirching the religion.
Issuing a fatwa, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Mastan Ali, who heads one of the largest seminaries of Islamic clerics in southern India ' the Jamiat-ul-Mominath 'said the militants were insulting the religion.
“Every time these outfits carry out anti-national or inhuman activities, they drag the holy names into the controversy. We demand that they drop the religious tag since what they are doing is not only irreligious but also against humanity,” the maulana added.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board general secretary, Abdur Rahim Qureshi, described the practice of militant outfits naming themselves after holy figures “un-Islamic and satanic”.
He said the Lashkar-e-Qahar, or Army of the Subduer, takes its name from Asma-ul-Husna, or the 99 other names of Allah. The Prophet is named after 99 virtues and al-Qahar is one of the attributes.
In separate decrees, the All-India Jamiat-ul-Mashaiq and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat have also decried the misuse of Islamic names for subversive activities.
The fourth one was issued by Maulana Syed Shah Badruddin Quadri al-Jeelani, the national president of Sunnat Jamaat, who said “the Muslim community in India is getting a bad name because of the wrong actions of organisations titled like that”.
In India, virtually all Islamic seats of learning have rejected terrorism but have refrained from issuing fatwas. The reluctance arose mainly because of the non-binding nature and a tendency among some clerics to issue fatwas on trivial issues.
Moderate scholars like Muslim personal law board chief Maulana Rabey Nadvi are averse to the cult of fatwas.
However, the senior clerics of Hyderabad have made an exception, keeping in mind the outrage over the Varanasi blasts within the community and the potential of the attacks to stoke communal passions.