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Topic initiated on Saturday, September 9, 2006  -  1:04 PM Reply with quote

200 U.P. couples remarried by fatwa
Barelvi Sunnis Made To Pay Price For Attending Namaaz Led By Deoband Cleric
THE TIMES OF INDIA - Septemeber 6, 2006 - Manjari Mishra & Varun Chadha

Moradabad : Abid Ali is 80 and has been married to 75 years old Asgeri Begam for as long as he can remember. But this week he renewed his wedding vows and performed a nikah because a top cleric issued a fatwa dissolving his marriage.
Ali wasn't the only one. More than 200 couples had to repeat their nikah in Aharaula village, about 20 km from Moradabad.
The reason: these Barelvi Sunni Muslims had committed the crime of attending a namaaz led by a cleric from the rival Deoband sect. The namaz on August 11 was led by Maulana Hafiz Abu Mohammad during the burial of his uncle, Master Nazakat Hussain, a respected madrassa teacher who had died at the age of 85 years.
All the villagers who attended the teacher's namaaz-e-janaza were caught in the hostilities between the Barelvis and Deobandis, an old fault line dividing UP's Sunni Muslims. The namaaz was led by Mohammad, a Deobandi, because the imam of the village failed to turn up.
However, this enraged local Barelvi leaders. Days after the burial, Haji Ali Hasan, a village elder travelled to Moradabad to meet with Mufti Abdul Mannan Karimi, a Barelvi cleric, and briefed him on how a Deobandi had led a band of Barelvis in prayer.
The mufti cracked down. Those at Hussain's burial were no more Muslims and had turned kafir, he decreed in a fatwa last week. The price for resumption of status quo was, "tauba karo, kalma padho aur nikah padhwao (do penance, recite the kalma, marry your wives all over again)".
"At least 100 couples have had the nikah ceremony done so far," a triumphant Karimi told TOI on Tuesday. "This time there has been no pomp and show at the nikah. The basic requisite has been the presence of just two witnesses. No dawat or other celebrations have followed them."
The mufti, however, exonerated those who were not aware of the identity of the Deobandi maulana and, therefore, were misled. But those who knew, he said, had to pay the price. "It is not my view, this is the stance taken by noted ulema and clerics of the Barelvi sect hundreds of years ago in conformity with the Koran and Hadis," he said.
The edict has stunned the entire village. Aharaula is a peaceful place which has been no tension or cirme, said Jaipal Singh, the station officer of Patbarha. The place, he says, "is a little too peaceful as we have not seen a single FIR filed from here so far".
The population of the village is around 1,800 with 55% Muslims and most residents are poor and illiterate. This could be the reason the mufti's edict terrorised them into quickly organising ceremonies. "In most cases, the maulvi was called home to solemnise the marriage to avoid embarrassment," said Akram Hussain, brother of the village pradhan. However, many still haven't quite understood. "I still have no idea. My husband and children told me. I had to get remarried," said 65 year old Bashiran.

Posted - Saturday, September 9, 2006  -  3:16 PM Reply with quote
is this true? how pathetic is this, so sad to see a muslim being called a kafir for attending namaz of a different sect. this is an ebmarrasment for the whole of the muslim nation.

Posted - Saturday, September 9, 2006  -  3:22 PM Reply with quote
entire world is enjoying these events:



Posted - Saturday, September 16, 2006  -  2:59 PM Reply with quote
Competing Islams
Despite the attempts of a section of media and the Hindu Right to paint the Muslims as a monolithic community, the recent incident in Moradabad unravels the deep divisions within Muslims. Time for ordinary Muslims to question the interpretation of the Ulama in a bid to make Islam compatible with basic democratic rights.

More than 200 Muslim men of Moradabad town are required to remarry their own wives. This is the opinion of the local Mufti of the town. Their fault: participating in a funeral prayer which was led by an imam of a denomination not their own. It so happened that while most of these Muslims were Barelwis, the imam under which they said the prayers happen to be a Deobandi. The local Barelwi leadership was enraged and decreed that since they do not regard the Deobandis as Muslims enough, all those who said their namaz under that imam ceased to be Muslims. And since they went outside the pale of Islam, the logical conclusion was that their marriages had become invalid and hence they had to marry again.

Strange though it may sound to many of us, it is unfortunately true that the Barelwi Mufti was being true to what must have been taught at the madrasa in which he studied. For it is true that the Barelwis do not regard Deobandis as true Muslims. Their chief ideologue, Riza Ahmad Khan, had pronounced the leading Deobandis of his times, which included some of the founders of the Deoband madrasa, to be Kafirs. It followed from his assessment that any one following the path of Deoband was also a kafir. Within the Barelwi tradition, Riza Ahmad Khan is revered and his voluminous writings are a guide to millions of Barelwis. The local Mufti at Moradabad was therefore only following the true teachings of his own denomination.

Curiously enough the Deobandis, the other party in the incident, posed as the more enlightened of the two and appealed for moderation. The understatement was that the Barelwis should try to become as broad minded as the Deobandis are. I say 'curiously', because their own position with regard to the Shia and Ahmadias is hardly any different. It is well known that the Deobandis and Barelwis alike hounded Ahmadias in Pakistan. Also the Shias, for them, remain outside the pale of true Islam. But then the Deobandis do not even regard the Barelwis on par with them. In standard Deobandi literature, the Barelwis are backward Muslims who are shrine-worshippers and are not being true to the original teachings of Islam. They argue that Barelwis are innovators (bidati) who have borrowed their religious practices from the Hindus and point to similarities between shrine and idol worship. So much for the recent Deobandi cosmopolitanism as witnessed in the Moradabad incident.

Despite the attempts of a section of media and the Hindu Right to paint the Muslims as a monolithic community, the incident in fact unravels the deep divisions within Muslims. Apart from divisions based on caste and culture, the incident reminds us that the very notion of Islam itself is contestable. Islam is approximated and defined in so many ways that it is practically impossible to speak of Islam in the singular sense of the term. But then this is not an argument for the existence of Islamic pluralism in India. Had it been so, the various denominations would not have denigrated each other. Rather there should have been a process of dialogue and respect for each other’s denominations. The absence of such a dialogue points towards regimes of orthodoxies within each denomination. Such a sorry state of affairs only breeds hate and distrust of the other interpretation.

And madrasas have a big role to play in fomenting such distrust. Despite the projection that madrasas are centers of transmitting Islamic education, in reality they are denominational institutions. The founder of any madrasa belongs to one of the various maslaks and it is the propagation of the ideas of this particular maslak, which is the main aim of any madrasa. The Deobandis, the Barelwis and the Ahl e Hadis, all have their won network of madrasas in which they teach how, apart from their own interpretation of Islam, all other interpretations are false or simply erroneous.
Although all madrasas would publicly state that they teach Islamic knowledge, in reality students are required to learn the art of refutation of the other point of view. There are books for this purpose as well as practice sessions in which students learn how to refute other interpretations of Islam. The Barelwi Mufti therefore was only applying what he had learnt was the right thing to do.

The effects of this Islamic competition is varied depending on the situation and local contexts. In India, this contest has by far remained a verbal duel between different denominations. But as the Moradabad incident points out, such doctrinal differences can impact negatively on people’s daily lives. Moreover, in certain contexts where Islam is the sole ideology of legitimation, such differences can lead even to large-scale bloodshed. The Pakistan case is an important reminder. Denominational differences are no longer confined to writing books to refute the other’s point of view. Rather, sectarian killings have become quite common. Apart from the age-old tussle between the Shias and the Sunnis, killings have occurred within the Sunnis themselves. Thus few months back, the entire leadership of Barelwis in Pakistan was wiped off in a bomb attack. Attack on shrines, etc also point to the regime of denominational intolerance in Pakistan.

Fortunately enough, denominational rivalries among Indian Muslims have not reached such a nadir. It is still largely confined to pronouncing fatwas and writing refutations. Still it is dangerous since it surely affects the lives of Muslims, mostly of those who are poor and uneducated. After all it is the poor ordinary Muslims, especially women, who have to pay the price of denominational competition among the Ulama. It would be too much to expect the Ulama to start dialoguing with each other, since it is this very competition which keeps the religious market afloat. What is required is that ordinary Muslims should question the interpretation of the Ulama in a bid to make Islam compatible with basic democratic rights.


Arshad Alam is with the Center for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies, Jamia Milia University, New Delhi
(note:The Bralvi priest, Mufti Abdul Mannan Karimi withdrew his fatwa subsequently. )

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