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INTERVIEW: Maulana Abdul Wahab Khilji
‘We will have to sort out problems’ 

Inter-sect differences blew up into the open recently. Though not new by any means, the way it is going out of control in recent times has made everyone wonder as to whether we realize the consequences of the silly games we are playing. When the community is finding it hard to cope with numerous problems and challenges confronting it in every field, maslaki tafriqa-bazi is simply the last thing we should tolerate since this will eat us up from within.

With Ahl-e-Hadees and Deobandies fighting in the open, things are stretching too far. The battered Muslim community cannot bear it. S Ubaidur Rahman of the MG talked to Maulana Abdul Wahab Khilji, secretary general of Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadees, which has felt agrieved at the sudden Deobandi attack. Excerpts:

 
Why these maslaki differences have come out in the open now?
We are being accused of calling names to sahaba. Deobandis have always accused us for things which we never did or said. Has anyone ever seen us indulging in such arguments. We have never uttered a word against the sahaba.
It is a problem of shortsightedness and insistence on one’s argument even if the argument is not true. They are not prepared to accept our argument. Now they are indulging in open threats to us and organizing conferences against us.

How the problem started?
These are not new issues. The issue has been confronting the community for a very long time. There are some basic guidelines in Islam which we have to follow. Qur’an and hadith are our basic sources. There are small things where there is some ambiguity and here everyone is free to do as he or she believes to be true. Raf’i-yadain and aameen bil-jahr fall under this category.
Now the problem is aggravated with open threats and wild accusations. People with some vested interests are doing it in order to drive benefits for themselves. In their conferences they are openly accusing us and our institutions in a way that cannot be tolerated. We have always been an oppressed segment in the Muslim society in the country.
These people claim that they played a significant part in the war of independence. Whenever we say that we too played a significant role in that struggle, they come out to deny our claims with no basis. They accuse us to be kafir. They say that salat behind an Ahl-e-Hadees imam is not lawful. They say that a mosque should be cleaned if an Ahl-e-Hadees enters it.
I will give just one example. We constructed a mosque in Saharanpur some nine years back. Now a son of Maulana As’ad Madani goes there all of a sudden and threatens the devout and says that now we will appoint a Deobandi imam here. We have been facing these problems here and there. When Muslims are demanding security in the country, they are not allowing a segment of the community itself to live in peace and security.
The real problem is a book, Al-Deobandiyah. They claim that it has been written by us. But the fact is that a Pakistani writer has authored it. He has used arguments from their own books. He has pinpointed their differences on various issues.
I accept that his tone is not correct I reject his style. We do not favour him. But they should answer him in a reasonable way and come up with arguments against him. It should to be tackled in an ilmi style.

Can’t you maintain silence over such outbursts?
We are not going out to organize conferences against them as they are doing. You see, we are silent. We are ready to offer any sacrifice for the unity of the community. We are ready to walk some extra miles to achieve this target. But the way they are behaving is causing panic among our people. They ask what we are doing for them.

A few years ago you gave an interview to an Arabic magazine [Al-Da’wah] where you claimed that the only correct Muslims in India are the Salafis?
I never claimed so. I never gave that interview.

You call yourself salafi. But Salafis are actually the Hambalis, the followers of Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal. So they too are muqallid?
Salafis and Hanbalis are different. Salafis are ghair muqallid. Hanafis are rigid muqallids. Other sects are nearer to Ahl-e-Hadees (aqrab ila Ahl-al-hadees).

Ahl-e-Hadees ulama and their institutions are publishing books and pamphlets against Deobandis and distributing them free?
It might have happened a few years ago, but now no one is indulging in such things.

Does such differences augur well for the community at the moment?
We have been trying to discuss all issues in ilmi style. With education and openness more and more people are talking about these issues and adopting a personal line on all these issues. People today are more tolerant than they were a decade or half a century ago. Every problem could be sorted out. It is better for the community when it is facing insurmountable problems on all fronts. We will have to sort out the differences for the sake of our survival as a community.
q

 

 

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