March 19: Muslim groups, leaders and clerics are increasingly speaking out against terrorism and violence, reflecting a churning within the community over some Indian Muslims being linked to terrorist attacks.
The conservative clergy has taken the lead, issuing fatwas against terrorism and stressing the need to teach patriotism in madarsas.
The religious orders at Nadwa, Deoband, Phulwari Sharief and Gulbarga are deeply worried. Although nothing has been proved conclusively about Indian Muslims’ links with terrorists, apart from the involvement of a few criminals, the clergy believes any such inclination needs to be checked early.
A top cleric told The Telegraph that he, like millions of Indians, felt proud when he learnt how President George W. Bush had introduced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his wife Laura at the White House.
“He is the leader of a country of over 150 million Muslims and not one of them is a member of al Qaida,” Bush had reportedly said.
No Indian has been formally linked to al Qaida, but an alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba activist named Salar, from Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, was shot dead near Lucknow a day after the Varanasi blasts. Salar’s exact role, if any, in the bombings is unclear but the news has upset Muslims.
Clerics in Hyderabad have already issued fatwas asking militant outfits not to name themselves after Prophet Mohammad. Another fatwa, from Lucknow, has ruled out religious sanction for any attack on a place of worship, as had happened in Varanasi.
In Hyderabad, theologians are working on books that would be taught at madarsas to instil a greater sense of patriotism in students.
At the political level, the mood was reflected in Delhi yesterday with a meeting of Muslim organisations being held to find ways of improving the community’s socio-economic condition. It drew a host of religious heads and organisations who rarely share a platform.
The Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid and some others proposed floating a “Muslim political party”. The dominant Muslim view, however, is that such a move would further distance the community from the national mainstream.