By Aasif Ali
It has come as no surprise to Kashmiris when a delegation of about 21 Muslim Sufi clerics met union home minister Rajnath Singh , on Tuesday 6th September 2016, and proposed to take out an ‘Aman Yatra’ in the troubled Kashmir valley. The delegation was led by Maulana Ansar Raza chairman of the Gharib Nawaz Foundation, managing Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah. (India Today, September 7, 2016). They vehemently proclaim that they will carry Holy Quran in one hand and tricolor in another. But which hand is to be used for Holy Quran and tricolor. If they carry Holy Quran in left hand, they shall be viewed as the heretics not only by the Kashmiri Muslims but by the entire Muslim population in the world. And, if they carry tricolor in their left hand, it may be treated as an insult and disrespect to tricolor and they shall be labeled as traitors by the Indian jingoistic.
These purported Sufis should know that Kashmir is not only world famous for its meadows, orchards of apple, pear, nuts and almonds, pastures and lakes but equally renowned for the saints of highest excellence. Their Sufi-march will avail nothing here in Kashmir, which is called “Pir Waer” in local parlance meaning the “Alcove of Saints” has saints in every village so to speak. Our Sufi culture is much more vibrant, lively and based on realism while theirs is twisted, far from pristine Sufism and is circumstance driven and of late appropriated by hedonism and narcissism.
So, their march shall be viewed in Kashmir as a candle lit show in a broad daylight. Sufism teaches a man to shun violence and always uphold the principles of Islam. It forbids its adherents to bolster and favor the evildoers and mischief mongers as mentioned in the Holy Quran, “And do not incline towards those who do wrong, lest you be touched by the Fire, and you would not have other than Allah any protector; then you would not be helped” (Hood:113).
History is witness to the fact that the Barelvi School, by and large, has collaborated with the ruling powers whether in British India or post British-era. Very little is known about their role in raising voice against atrocities committed on the people by the incumbent regimes. When British were occupying power in the Indian sub-continent, they were very instrumental in strengthening their authority. When Muslims were fighting the British Raj over their undivided country, some clerics like Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi had a pro-political ideology towards British regime which was at variance with his contemporary Islamic scholars and was thus criticized. He even wrote a pamphlet in late 19th century during the peak of British Rule titled “Iylamul Aalaam bi-anna Hindustan Darul Islam” literally meaning “Proclamation of the mountains of knowledge that India is Islamic territory” legitimizing the rule of British in India. Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan thus termed the ‘Rule by England’ as the ‘Islamic Rule’, which was snubbed by the scholars and the educated youth at that time. After all, he was able to muster some support for the British rule from the ignorant and gullible people around him and this emaciated their passion and yearning for Independence from the British Raj.
Francis Robinson a British historian writes about Ahmed Raza Khan: “Nevertheless his normal stand was of support for the government and he supported it throughout World War I, he opposed the Khilafat Movement, and in 1921 organized a conference of anti-non-cooperation Ulama at Bareily. He had considerable influence with the masses but was not favored by educated Muslims” (Separatism Among Indian Muslims: The Politics of the United Provinces’ Muslims, 1860-1923, p422, Francis Robinson).
After sidelining with the British, every destined incumbent regime knew how to make them cannon fodder for their means. Instead of taking out peace march in power corridors of New Delhi and streets of Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar and Maharashtra, to name only naming a few, thereby instilling the discipline and compassion among the majority Hindu community towards Muslims, Dalits, Christians etc., they are proposing their march among peace loving and compassionate people of Kashmir.
Their junket, through the deserted roads of Kashmir, shall garland them with obituaries of people being killed for their ingrained defiance of oppression and tyranny. This march will make a mockery of their foundation in particular and their school of thought in general. Islam is the religion of truth and addresses the basic instincts of humans. Holy Quran says, “O you who believe! Be firm in establishing justice and be witness (to the truth) for Allah even if it is against yourselves, your parents and relatives. Be he rich or poor, Allah is closer to each of them. So don’t follow your passions and desires in enforcing justice. And if you distort (your testimony) or refuse (to give it), then indeed Allah is well informed of what you do” (Nisa: 135). Wise men ponder on the reality and take council before any deed.