Are Indian Muslims leading the way in condemning terror?

May 22, 2008

A man prays at the Nizamuddin shrine in New DelhiFor those Western critics that say Islam does not enough to to condemn terrorism, perhaps they should look at India, home to one of the world’s biggest Muslim populations — around 13 percent of mainly Hindu India’s 1.1 billion people.

 On Wednesday, it was the turn of Khalid Rasheed, head of the oldest madrasa in the northern city of Lucknow — a traditional centre for Muslims and religious scholarship. He rejected terrorism as anti-Islamic after he and his colleagues had been accused of apostasy over their pacifist stance by at group that calls itself the Indian Mujahideen.

Indian Mujahideen made threats against the madrasa in which they also claimed responsibility for last week’s bomb blasts in Jaipur, western India, which killed 63 people.

“The reaction of terrorists to our stand against terror has shown that we were moving in the right direction,” Rasheed said.

   Apparently a “Movement Against Terrorism” has been created by clerics to exhort imams to use Friday prayers at mosques across India to speak out against terrorism.

This was no flash in the pan. Earlier this year, tens of thousands of clerics and students from around India attended a meeting near Delhi at the 150-year-old Darool-Uloom Deoband — whose strict interpretation of Islamic law is said to have inspired the Taliban in Afghanistan — and denounced terrorism as against Islam.

It is not surprising that Rasheed said they had received support from Darool-Uloom Deoband, Indian clerics appear to be increasingly outspoken, perhaps not surprising in a country where there is a centuries-old tradition of preaching religious tolerance.

How much is this outspoken criticism happening in other Muslim countries? And how much is being reported in the Western press? I would be eager to know more.

 Despite a history of religious clashes, India’s tolerance often seems to win through. It was the Mughal Emperor Akbar, who was famed in the 16th century by many for his religious tolerance and who initiated scholarly debates with Muslim, Sikhs, Christians and Hindus.

Many of India’s bombings are blamed on Islamic militants, although few groups every claim responsibility and few people are ever arrested. The attacks have mostly failed to incite Muslim-Hindu tensions.

Woman prays at Nizamuddin shrine

Here in New Delhi, I always enjoy taking foreign visitors to India to the Sufi shrine in Nizamuddin. My latest guest was a U.S. diplomat based in Pakistan. Hardly allowed out in Islamabad – let alone able to visit a mosque — the diplomat wallowed in the warmth of the visit and the relaxed atmosphere of the Qawwali singers.


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love :)

Posted by Mohandas K Gandhi | Report as abusive

Its a very poignant point you are raising here, I believe when it comes to religion and its related affairs, India has always done a great service to the world, it created two of the most peaceful world religions in Hinduism and Budhhism even Jainism (sorry three), and a true warrior’s religion for fighting for truth in Sikhism. I, believe India might not have been the origin of Islam, but seems its 13 crore Indian muslims will be the torch bearers of muslim reforms world over. Though the sceptic in me, still feels its a point high on emotion low on logic, but then when it come to matters of religion, heart always rules over the head.So a bubbly (oops no drinking) a bear-hug to all my muslim countrymen, especially to the pioneering reformers..and the people mentioned in your blog…great observation..hope your prediction gets true as well!!

Posted by Sceptic Indian | Report as abusive

I fully support this movement.

Learning from a multicultural country like India, in handling this ‘radical faith’ matter, while India were in the middle of a major Socio-Economic, and Technological Shift.
It will means a lot for many developing world to see how Islam deals with such problems, therefore giving a role model for other countries which inhabited mostly by moslems.

Am looking forward for progress in India especially in defining Islam modernization, and ways to reach the modern world, from a more moderate perspective of Islam.

Keep up the good work!

Posted by Adri | Report as abusive

Good to read a article which is not biased against Muslim/ Islam, we are habituated to only read negatives about them, for a change I liked thia article. It opened my eyes.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

this is quait intresting, i like the article very much, i was thinking of this, and wondering if somebody write’s about this.
so thanks, keep going….i will keep reading

Posted by alice | Report as abusive

[…] Muslim clerics are joining up to condemn terrorism, and of course the terrorists are joining up to c… […]

Posted by Horseman, Pass By! | Report as abusive

This is just an eyewash. If Muslims are really peace-loving and respect other religions, they will practice in their countries. From Pakistan, Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan… they have the worst human rights records with respect to minorities. This is not about to change anytime in the future. Since the source of the hate idealogy lies in the Quran.

In countries such as India, USA, or in Europe, muslims are in minority which is why they put up all this act against terrorism. Once they become majority, their true colors shows.

Posted by venkat | Report as abusive

“Here in New Delhi, I always enjoy taking foreign visitors to India to the Sufi shrine in Nizamuddin.”

The sufi shrines of Northern India have had more exposure than others. Here’s an example of mingling of Arabs and Jains on the southern coastline…

Posted by HN | Report as abusive

[…] Are Indian Muslims leading the way in condemning terror? (Alistair Scrutton, FaithWorld) ‘No place for the hijab in civic life’ says Irish journalist (Islamophobia Watch) A real Orwellian story (Islam, Muslims and an Anthropologist) Release Equatorial Guinea pastor (Amnesty International) Ex-ex-gay to speak at Lambeth (Ruth Gledhill) Dalai Lama to visit Olympics if China talks are constructive (Riazat Butt, The Guardian) Iran urged to overturn sentences against women activists (Amnesty International) Cartoons Commemorating Nakba @ 60  (Sabbahblog) […]

Posted by Bombing an Exeter shopping centre, and other news « The Cultural Anarchlyst | Report as abusive

This was long time in coming, and as the dust settles down, all over the world and people start to look deeply into the follies of the “war on terror”, i see great prospects of similar steps being taken elsewhere as well. Indian Muslims can lead the way as they are in a unique position, having had a voice in deciding their fate, given India’s democratic institutions The Muslim ummah can take heart from this and common Muslims can come forward and make it happen.

Posted by Rajeev Bhatt | Report as abusive

terrorism cannot be prevented by condemning alone. many muslims say there are moderates. but those moderates never raise head in public. the world has , especially india, has fatigue of muslims saying they denounce terrorism but nothing inspiring has come through so far, atleast in my opinion. it is even hard to criticise islam with muslims as they tend to get emotional.

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

Interesting article and some expected comments. Being a Muslim, almost every article that i’ve come across which has even a remote connection to Islam is plagued by a bunch of ‘Usual Sceptics’. It’s quite easy to do mud-slinging and taint a religion when its not your own, I have read a comment saying that “it is even hard to criticise islam with muslims as they tend to get emotional.”?? Well wouldnt you? if everyone’s favourite topic of the day was being critically negative of your religion???(& mostly its unwarranted). Also its quite amusing to see how people love to paint the Middle-East in unfavourable colours, while millions of expats of different faiths flock to the UAE, Kuwait etc,, for better Job prospects and a Tax-Free wad of Money?. Being a sceptic is one thing but most comments seem to reek of hypocracy . So stop stereotyping and if you cant do anything to help the situation, then at least stop making it worse. Ta!

Posted by Farhan | Report as abusive

[…] not what we’ve been noticing. In fact, our chief correspondent in New Delhi, Alistair Scrutton, just wrote a post on a “Movement Against Terrorism” among Muslim clerics there urging imams to preach against […]

Posted by Kissinger, Iraq and India’s Muslims – a new domino theory? « Shariah Finance Watch | Report as abusive

I agree that as being a minority in a country with 1 billion population, Muslims have no option but to cooperate and look nice or risk violence as in Ayodhya or Gujarat.

India would never have been a secular, democratic country if Muslims were in majority. No offense to anyone, I am just being blunt!

Posted by Skpetic | Report as abusive

Deoband is often wrongly accused inspiring the Taleban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The early madrassas established in the NWFP were, in fact, modeled after Deoband as their founders themselves received education in Deoband prior to 1947. However, all of this changed with the US/Pakistani (CIA/ISI) efforts to recruit, train and equip the students of these madrassas to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The divergence between the Indian and Pakistani Deobandis became very clear when the religious leaders from NWFP and Deoband met for a summit in mid-2001 (just prior to 911) and disagreed strongly on the strategies/tactics used by the Taleban in Afghanistan. In fact, Maulana Marghoob, the leader of Deoband, condemned the destruction of Buddha carvings in Bamian by the Taleban. The Indian Deoband leaders clearly understood that they could not condone the destruction of Buddha statues in Afghanistan while at the same time protest against the destruction of Babri mosque in India.

Posted by Riaz Haq | Report as abusive