Published On:07 May 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

IMO EXCLUSIVE: Muslim clerics make Islam scapegoat and Muslims sacrificial lamb over Azam Khan-Imam Bukhari episode

By Mohammad Shahid Pervez & Danish Ahmad Khan

Lucknow/New Delhi: The spat between Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and state Urban Development Minister Azam Khan and Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid Syed Ahmad Bukhari and the temporary truce later on has unmasked Muslim leaders and clerics in various ways, for what they really stand for. The fracas between Azam Khan and Imam Bukhari has clearly shown how shamelessly Muslims can be used and befooled by these petty politicians to grab the spoils of victory in the name of Muslim welfare in the recently-concluded Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

Muslim votes contributed in a big way and helped Samajwadi Party return to power with a thumping majority in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Both the leaders, Azam Khan and Imam Bukhari, however, tried hard to portray in their own way that they were the only one who successfully veered Muslims around and prompted them to vote massively for the SP helping it to return to power with a convincing majority.

The facts are though in stark contrast. Azam Khan, after being snubbed by SP leader and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on several occasions, kept himself aloof from election campaigns and failed to attend rallies in most parts of the state. But when it came to share the spoils of victory and power, Azam Khan projected himself in a way as if he got Muslims to vote for the SP and went hammer and tongs after Mulayam Singh Yadav to get his acquaintance Chowdhry Mohammad Saleem from Rajasthan elected to Rajya Sabha after locking horns with Imam Bukhari. And, all this happened in the name of welfare and representation of Muslims in the state.

Imam Bukhari too did not lag behind in having his share of the spoils of powers. Bukhari was roped in by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to campaign in the elections and seek Muslim votes. After the victory of Samajwadi Party, Bukhari lost no opportunity in staking his claim and asserted that Muslims have voted only because of him. Claiming himself as the sole proprietor of Muslim votes, Bukhari sought an MLC seat and ministership for his son-in-law Umar Ali Khan, who was defeated in the current elections. He also pleaded for a Rajya Sabha seat for his brother Yahya Bukhari, which was ultimately bagged by his rival Azam Khan for his acquaintance. Imam Bukhari somehow succeeded in getting his son-in-law elected as an MLC and getting ministership in the UP cabinet in the name of representation of Muslims in the state.

The unseemly Azam Khan-Imam Bukari spat has nevertheless cast a dark shadow on the religion of Islam with Mullahs (Muslim clerics) of different sects taking sides and issuing fatwas against each other. Recently, a Maulana of Barelvi sect Mufti Obaidur Rahman, during the course of a political battle between Azam Khan and Imam Bukhari in Uttar Pradesh over MLC and Rajya Sabha nomination, gave a Fatwa denouncing Imam Bukhari. He said, "Those with trimmed beard are not allowed to lead a session of Namaz. According to the Islamic law, one should have a handful of beard." On the other hand, clerics of Darul Uloom Deoband criticised Azam Khan for his diatribe against Bukhari. Azam Khan was quoted as saying that the job of an Imam is to lead prayers in the Masjid (Mosque) and not meddle into politics. Azam Khan had asked Bukhari to keep within limits and perform the duties of an Imam.

Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali
The episode has brought two rival Sunni school of thoughts face to face with each other, making the religion of Islam a scapegoat. The fatwa challenging the religious legitimacy of the imamat of Maulana Bukhari made a feeling of skepticism creep into a section of the community about a long lasting unity among Muslims. The fatwa issued by a section of ulema said that a person "who does not have beards in accordance with sunnah cannot become imam”. Applying the same parameter they declared the imamat of Maulana Ahmad Bukhari as najaiz (illegal).

The Imam of Lucknow’s Aishbagh Eidgah and member of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali does not agree with the fatwa. In an exclusive interview with the Indian Muslim Observer the Maulana said there was no such restrictions in the Shariah and "a person without beard can also be imam and lead the prayer". When asked about the status of moustache in Shariah, the Maulana said that moustache is permitted if it is not long enough to get dipped into water while drinking. "If the moustache is so long that it dips in water when drinking it becomes haram," the Maulana elaborated.

Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali refused to be drawn into the Azam-Bukhari controversy terming it personal and involving individual interests, and said that such minor spats are bound to happen in a big community and should not be construed as friction or discard in the Ummah. He asserted that Muslims are united on all issues concerning the community as is evident from the success of the recent AIMPLB session in Mumbai, and earlier in the UP Assembly elections. On Maslaki (sectarian) differences, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali said that there are differences of opinion based on Maslak but that did not come in the way of unity on issues like the Shah Bano case in the past and would never hamper it in future. The Maulana said, "People belonging to one Maslak cannot term the other wrong." He claims that majority of people belonging to all Maslaks offer prayer in each others’ mosques, and only 10 percent are hardliners who quarrel for their vested interests and to satisfy their egos. But, asserts the Maulana, that will not affect our unity because it is based on Kalimah.

The Imam of Eidgah said that they (Ulema) were making efforts to spread awareness in the Muslim society to get it rid of several un-Islamic practices that had crept into it. "We are holding seminars and meetings to educate the people about these evils," he said. His attention was drawn to the presidential address of the AIMPLB Chairman Maulana Rabey Hasani Nadvi at Mumbai session in which he exhorted Muslims to inculcate the spirit of Shariah in their own lives to effectively counter any interference in the Shariah laws. On the functioning and performance of Darul Qazas (Shariah) courts the Maulana said that these courts were functioning at major centers and were doing well. Of the cases settled by these courts only 20 percent go to government courts while 80 percent are accepted by the parties. If the Shariah courts are such a success why not set up such courts at all district headquarters? Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali quips: "That will require a large number of trained staff that we do not have and giving training on such a mass scale is a rigorous job. Hence this is not possible immediately." The Maulana admitted lack of awareness among masses about these courts, and said, "We have contacted Muslim lawyers at district family courts to refer cases involving Muslims to Shariah courts but the progress is tardy."

Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi
When told about some Muslim outfits opposing the entry of ulema into politics, Maulana Khaid Rasheed Farangi Mahali said, "There was no harm in ulema taking up politics. In fact, ulema are into politics. You can see from Assam to Delhi and UP, ulema are coming into politics." 

When asked about beard fatwa by Barelvi sect on Imam Bukhari, Maulana Mohammad Asrarul Haque Qasmi, Member of Parliament (MP) in Lok Sabha, said, “Keeping beard is Sunnah. However, what should be the length of it has different opinions by ulama. Prayer by someone whose beard’s length falls short of ‘handful’ cannot be said to be nullified. So far as the issue of moustache is concerned, the Prophet has asked to keep it trimmed and shortened. However, it does not mean that if someone shaves the moustache, he does wrong, because the meaning of the hadith is that one should keep beard which of course should be maintained whereas moustache should be managed in a way that the hair does not touch beverage and edibles while one eats or drinks. Therefore, if one shaves the moustache instead of trimming, one just does what is intended of the hadith.”

Now that a Fatwa on trimmed beard versus handful of beard has come from the Barelvi sect. It is feared that some other day this sect might even give a Fatwa against Tablighi Jamaat followers. In Islam, Muslims are asked to trim their Moustache. But, the followers of Tablighi Jamaat following a rigid form of Islam completely shave their Moustache while keeping their beard intact. When asked that Tablighi Jamaat followers are following a rigid form of Islam by shaving their Moustache instead of trimming it according to Islamic law, Delhi-based Journalist Manzar Imam, said, “Nomination for the Rajya Sabha has nothing do with the length and breadth of beard. Politics does not fall in the discourse of beard or moustache. No beard – shaved, shortened, lengthy or contended – is powerful enough to secure a seat either in a State Assembly or Parliament. Fatwas are opinions of scholars who have deep knowledge of Islam. A fatwa or a religious decree is generally not issued without asking. Why should it bother anyone whether members of Tablighi Jamaat trim or shave their moustache? There is no rigid form of Islam. It is people who make it so. Islam has come to ease the problems of people, not to complicate them. In fact, Islam has been very considerate to human frailties, psychology and needs. Asking unnecessary questions for imaginary things has been forbidden in the Quran. Politics is not a forbidden tree for any citizen – be it a layman or an intellectual, an aalim or an illiterate Muslim. The fact, however, remains that ulama have failed to provide good leadership to Muslims especially after the 1960s. Islam should never be justified by acts of clerics; it has to be the actions which need to be judged on the parameters set by Islam and not the opposite of it. Difference of opinions has always existed in Islam. Even the sahaba or companions of Prophet Muhammad had difference of opinion on few occasions but those differences were not ideological."

Manzar Imam
Manzar Imam further said, "Sectarian conflicts have led to riots in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, even other places where South Asian Muslims have migrated. Some ulama with expertise in rabble-rousing speeches and polemics have been at the forefront of such disputes bringing disrepute to Islam. Others have gone ahead and issued fatwas of kufr against Muslim groups who believe in Allah, Prophet Muhammad, Qayamah and other fundamentals of Islam only because they do not believe in certain things that can be interpreted differently. Such intolerant behaviors have caused great damage to common Muslims. A mosque is a place of worship and education. Given the nature of present day politics, mosques should not be used for such purposes. Be it Syed Ahmad Bukhari or anyone else, the sanctity of mosques needs to be preserved.”

The disparaging Azam Khan-Imam Bukhari tug of war has left the Muslim community in the lurch and raises serious doubts over the issue of their real development and welfare. In the garb of fighting for the rights of Muslims, leaders like Azam Khan and Imam Bukhari continue to indulge into petty politics, and work for their own kith and kin bartering away the precious votes of the community. Muslim clerics, too, in order to have their share of power and pelf, keep on making the religion of Islam a scapegoat and Muslim masses the proverbial sacrificial lambs. And, this is what they all really stand for. The community should remain wary of such elements and try to explore every possible options to expose and make these people come to their senses, and defeat their nefarious designs whenever need be.

[Mohammad Shahid Parvez is former News Editor, National Herald, Lucknow. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Uttar Pradesh). He can be contacted at mshahidparvez@gmail.com. Danish Ahmad Khan is Founder-Editor, IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at indianmuslimobserver@gmail.com]

About the Author

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on May 07, 2012. Filed under , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on May 07, 2012. Filed under , , , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

0 comments for "IMO EXCLUSIVE: Muslim clerics make Islam scapegoat and Muslims sacrificial lamb over Azam Khan-Imam Bukhari episode"

Leave a reply

Editor's Pick

SPECIAL REPORT: Indian religious leaders strongly protest against South Korean government hounding of Shincheonji Church despite cooperation to contain COVID-19 spread

By Danish Ahmad Khan The government of South Korea is pursuing a discriminatory policy towards Shincheonji Church while accusing it of COVI...

IMO Search Finder

Subscribe IMO