[Photo: Maulana Nadvi of Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama ]
LUCKNOW/MUMBAI: After hitting the headlines for greeting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph and head of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Sunni theologian Maulana Salman Nadvi of Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, in an open letter, has asked the Saudi government to prepare an army of five lakh Indian Sunni Muslim youth to fight against the Shia militias in Iraq and elsewhere.
The letter has generated strong reaction within the Muslim community across the country. Although Maulana Salman could not be contacted despite repeated efforts for his comments about his letter to the Saudi government, he has in the recent past admitted to have accepted Bagdhadi’s “caliphate”.
Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi of All-India Ulema Council, the umbrella organization of clerics, refused to believe that Maulana Nadvi could have written such a letter. “If this is true, it’s unfortunate. Indian Muslims share the pain of their brothers elsewhere but it’s futile to see the crisis in Iraq and Syria from the Shia-Sunni prism. Some forces are bent on dividing the Muslims. Such letters will only widen the gulf between the two sects,” said Maulana Daryabadi.
Maulana Athar Ali, executive committee member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said instead of writing to the Saudi government, Nadvi should appeal to the Union government to try and impress upon the world community to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Iraq.
“What will the Saudi government do in this crisis? There’s no point trying to create an army of youth. This will only worsen the situation and lead to further radicalization,” said Maulana Athar Ali.
In his earlier letter, Nadvi expressed confidence that Iraqi Sunnis were with ISIS and that Bagdhadi’s “clean and pious character is worth praise”. He also criticized Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki, and hoped that under al-Baghdadi’s leadership, justice would prevail. The grandson of well-known Nadwa rector and late president of AIMPLB Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi (popularly Ali Miyan), Maulana Salman’s stance has left other Muslim clerics uneasy, more so because of the influence he wields among the faithful.
Imam of Eidgah Lucknow Khalid Rashid Firangi Maheli refused to comment. It is learnt that senior clerics of Nadwa too are unhappy by his observations. Senior executive member of AIMPLB and additional advocate general Zafaryab Jilani condemned the letter in which Salman had praised Baghdadi. “Such a letter was not in the interest of the country as it would unnecessarily cause Shia-Sunni tension,” Jilani had said.