Special Reports

Ulama conference focuses on peace and coexistence to curb terror

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

New Delhi: With the aim to draw a clear distinction between acts of terrorism and the true essence of Jihad in Islam, the “Anti-Terrorism Conference” was held here at Constitution Club on 19 April. Speakers categorically denounced every form of terrorism and injustice in the harshest of terms. They proclaimed that “peaceful coexistence” is the only way of life that can ensure peace and security for all religious communities in India. A large number of ulama, academicians, activists and politicians participated in the conference and stressed the need for the elimination of extremism and to work for peaceful coexistence between adherents of all faiths.

In his inaugural remarks, senior Sunni-Sufi scholar Maulana Yaseen Akhtar Misbahi explained the need to organise this conference, saying “regrettably, we have witnessed in our country, during the last years, acts of violence and terror perpetrated by terrorist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad much the same way as the global extremist organisations like Al-Qaida and ISIS are perpetrating atrocities, brazenly violating Islam in the name of Islam, Jihad and Khilafat.” Maulana Misbahi said that the conference was planned to strongly, unambiguously and unequivocally declare all such pernicious and obnoxious acts as mindless acts of violence of the extremists. “We also proclaim that they have nothing to do with the peace-loving and pluralistic Indian Muslims who are vehemently opposed to the handful terrorist goons,” he said, adding that “terrorism is not confined to only launching physical attacks, suicide bombings and using weapons of mass destruction. It includes every form of harm and atrocity which can be perpetrated in action or through thought against people of one’s own or other community.” He said that “Indian Muslims are against every form of terror whether physical or theoretical.” He appealed to the Muslims to take pride in being Indians just as they feel proud to be Muslims. He said “when I was born, I was both Muslim and Indian at the same time.”

In his inaugural speech, senior journalist Kuldip Nayar made it clear that “conflating any particular religion with terrorism is completely erroneous and misguiding”.

In his speech, Justice Rajinder Sachar hit out at those who spread wrong propaganda about Muslims and other minorities. He said that Muslims and Christians in India are not outsiders but are an integral part of the country. “Secularism has been an integral element of Islam for more than 1400 years.”  He added that secularism means religious equality and that no religion is superior to others.  He said all religions are equal before law and India is incomplete without Vedanta’s brain and Islam’s body. He lauded the peaceful and progressive teachings of Islam which stress equality, education, secularism, equal rights to women and right of inheritance. He lamented the attitude to look at Muslims with suspicion in the wake of any terror incident.

Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnan said that Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) came as a blessing for all worlds, not only for Muslims. Therefore, he should be revered by us all. He sang a na’t (poem in praise of the Prophet) which he himself wrote in the praise of the Prophet (pbuh). He further said that “communalist elements in this country seek to divide mankind in the name of religion but their plans will miserably fail in this country of composite culture. He reiterated that Islam or any other faith never taught disintegration or division. “While Bhagat Singh shed his blood in his struggle for freedom, Ashfaqullah also sacrificed his life for the same cause. This country is like a bouquet which is made by many colourful flowers,” he said.

Maulana Maqbool Ahmad Misbahi, founder, Jamia Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin said that “at a time when both Islamists and Islamophobes are actively engaged in demonizing Islam and Muslims on the pretext of Jihad, it is about time we mainstream Muslims condemn and refute the acts of the handful terrorist goons, while explaining the true essence of Jihad and denouncing every form of terrorism categorically and unequivocally.”

Mohammad Adeeb, former MP, said that “this conference should draw the attention of the central government to the communal elements that launched terrorist attacks on the holy shrine of Ajmer Sharif, Shah Jahani Jama Masjid Delhi, Makka Masjid Hyderabad, Malegaon and Samjhauta Express. While denouncing these acts of terror, the conference should make a humble appeal to the government to bring the perpetrators to the justice.”

Union Minister General V.K. Singh said, “I have studied the holy Quran with translation, but I did not find any link to terrorism in it. The fact is that when Islam came, it emphasised moderation, equality and kindness much more than any other religion. I have also been to madrasa for my early education in my childhood days, but the fact is that madrasas’ image is being tarnished today”. He said that “terrorism has no association with any particular community and it makes no distinction on the basis of religion”. Therefore, people of all faith traditions should unite in the war on terrorism to collectively curb this menace”. He said that after the first war of independence in 1857, the British did try to divide Hindus and Muslims on the basis of religion.

Shakeel Hasan Shamsi, editor of the Delhi edition of the Urdu daily Inquilab, said that during the last few years, Muslims have paid the biggest price for terrorism. They have suffered the heaviest loss caused by the atrocities of terrorists, whether they are Boko Haram, ISIS or Al-Qaida. He lamented that “it is an irony that Boko Haram which kills Muslims for acquiring western education and choosing modern lifestyle, uses the western weapons for the mass killing of innocent Muslims and non-Muslims.”   He put across the findings of a survey which said that in every new month, 900 people die of violent extremism and dangerous terrorism. Of which, he said, 99 percent victims comprise of Muslims.

Professor Akhtarul Wasey, Linguistic Minorities Commissioner, said that “ISIS and Boko Haram should be treated as first and foremost enemies of Islam today. Whatever harm they are causing to humanity is also akin to the destruction and violation of the tenets of Islam.”

Mufti Mukarram Ahmad, Shahi Imam of the Fatehpur Jama Masjid, said that “misguided Muslim youth in different Muslim countries falsely and quite wrongly attribute their militant goals and violent acts to Jihad. They are actually playing as tools in some hands to serve their vested interests.  Even in the state of defensive war, Islam did not permit the killing of women, children, innocent and non-combatant civilians. How, then, Islam can sanction the grave brutalities of a terrorist outfit or an individual in the name of Jihad?

Syed Faisal Ali, group editor of Sahara Urdu daily,  said that “the innocent Muslim youth languishing in jails, with no offence, must be freed and brought back to decent life and jobs with their salaries restored to them, in addition to the compensation of their financial loss. Also, those officers who falsely accused them of being guilty must also be punished.”

Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan, editor of The Milli Gazette, said that the tragic incidents of Hashimpura, Maliana, Meerut and the mass killings in Gujarat, Muzaffarpur etc. were grave travesty of injustice that can only be redressed by bringing both the criminals and victims to justice.

At the conclusion of the conference, Maulana Ashraful Kausar read out the recommendations which said, this Anti-Terrorism Conference appeals to the central government to curb terrorism, discourage extremism and control the communal elements which are trying to inject the communalist ideology into the minds of Indian citizens. It also demanded that the recommendations and proposals of Sri Krishna Commission, Sachar Committee and Gopal Panel are implemented and translated into action for the all-round development of Muslims in India.  

Among other eminent speakers and guests were Swami Dev Anand, Muni Jain Kumar, Kamal Faruqi, Svami Prakash Hani, Maulana Tauqir Raza Khan, Father D. Emanuel, Advocate Jagjeet Sohag, and others.

The programme convener Maulana Aqleem Raza Misbahi said that “the conference states in the strongest and the most spirited words that “calling an act of terror “Jihad” or declaring Jihad as “Terrorism” is the gravest form of Terrorism in the 21st Century”.

Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer. He may be contacted at grdehlavi@gmail.com

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2015 on page no. 13

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