By Masood Peshimam
The Tablighi Jamat’s Ijtema or religious congregation at Vasind, Taluka Shahpure, Thane, in Maharashtra was hugely peaceful. There was the meagre police presence as there was no apprehension of any threat of any sort of attack. The turnout was around 2,00,000 [two lakh people] stretched to the vast ground. Some communal forces tried to create the hurdle in the organization of the Ijtema or the religious congregation, which was subsequently overcome. However, notwithstanding some hiccups, there was no space for any minor or major attack from any quarter whatsoever.
There are bigger ijtemas or the religious congregations and there was no attempt to destroy the peace of the Ijtema or the religious congregation. The Tablighi Jamat has no threat perception in view of the fact that Jamat does not dabble with politics or quite conscious enough not to stir up any controversy.
Its only emphasis is to see that the community develops the essence of character. The very purpose of Ijtema is to make the Muslims committed to offer prayers and practice other tenets of Islam as well adhere to the practices treating Prophet Muhammad as role model. The Jamat is only concerned with the community to pay allegiance to the Quranic teachings and would like Muslims to translate into action the way the prophet lived his life with all the virtues and piety. There is an all round understanding that the Tablighi Jamat gives no space for the conflict with those in corridors of power. It does not rebel against the injustice to have an enmity with the political establishment of the day.
However notwithstanding Jamat’s limited agenda of improving the character of the Muslims, the late Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had expressed some apprehension against the activities of the Jamat. He expressed his concern over the growing influence of the Jamat to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Maulana assuaging the feelings of Pandit Nehru said that Jamat has the heart only in the matters which are beyond the sky and beneath the earth.
The other notable Islamic movement is the Dawate Islami which also plays no political role so to say. The Dawate Islami or the Ahile Sunnat Waljamat makes noise over some Muslim issues, but the noise is not that vociferous or boisterous. The Dawate Islami or Sunni Jamat has the turbans but no turbulence for the prevailing political culture. In Mumbai the gathering of the Dawate Islami is held at Azad Maidan CST without inviting any trouble.
In the circumstance what is no less significant to note that whether it is Tablighi Ijtama or Sunni Ijtama or any other religious congregation of Muslims there is no apprehension of any virulent terrorist violence. Our country plays safe to all the religious gatherings irrespective of any religion, caste or creed. The Hindus, Muslims and others are quite accommodative of each other.
The Hindus, Muslims and the people of other faiths live in significant harmony and fraternity except the fringe communal elements quite nurtured by the political culture which sometimes enact Dadri killing in the name of beef consumption, Muzaffarnagar’s communal violence or the alleged physical elimination of Najeeb of JNU. The incidents of straining the social relations galore aided and abetted by the present political dispensation. Otherwise the social atmosphere is not disturbing or disharmonious.
In contrast, in the neighbouring Pakistan every attempt is made to make virtue of the vice. The situation is so fragile and proactive that every other day some mosque or shrine is targeted claiming scores and scores of lives.
It is in tune of the Pakistani cult of violence that very recently a suicide bomber struck at the shrine of the country’s most famous Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalander in Sehwan Sharif town of Sindh.
Lal Sahabaz Qalander was 12th century Sufi saint, and a large number of devotees visit his shrine. It is said that the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group claimed responsibility of the attack. It is said that suicide bomber had targeted the Shia gathering at the shrine.
The Sufi saint was revered by both Sunnis and Shias. The real name of Lal Sahabaz Qalander was Syed Muhammad Usman who was born in 1177 AD in Marwand, Iran. His father, Syed Ibrahim Kabiruddin, was a virtuous and pious dervish, and his mother was a high-ranking princess. His ancestors migrated from Iraq and settled down in Meshed, from where they again migrated to Marwand. During the Medieval period Meshed and other cities of that region were renowned centres of learning and civilization.
Lal Sahabaz Qalander wandered throughout Middle East and came to Sindh from Baghdad via Dasht-i-Makran. In 1263, he arrived in Multan, which at that time was at the height of glory and splendour. The people of Multan besought him to stay, but he continued his journey southward and eventually settled down in Sehwan.
Lal Sahabaz Qalander is an overwhelming saint cherished and adored by Hindus and Muslims of Sindh alike. He was a great missionary, mystic, scholar and poet, and philologist. Several books in Persian and Arabic are attributed to him.
The shrine around his tomb built in 1356 gives a dazzling Sindhi kashi tiles mirror work and two gold plated doors, one donated by the late shah of Iran, and the other by the late Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Thousands of devotees flock to his tomb and their number stands multiplied. His “Urs” death anniversary is a big event. It is not in Pakistan alone that his Urs or the death anniversary is celebrated at Sehwan which springs to life and becomes the focal point of pilgrims from all over Pakistan.
In our own country his Urs is celebrated by the Sindhis in Koliwada, Mumbai. The Sindhis celebrate his ”Urs” dearth anniversary with much of fervour and gaiety, He is so revered in India that in B. Ed. College of Ulhasnagar managed by the Sindhis, one Ms Rukhsana Memon sang the number Sakhi Shahbaz Qalander in devotion to Lal Sahabaz Qalander, which fascinated and enthralled the Sindhis so much that they regaled in ecstasy and frenzy.
Against this background it is sad to note that the Sufi saint who attained the lofty mystical experience and quite adored by Muslims and Hindus both is not spared by the terror attack. The terrorist did not spare his noble and much cherished shrine.
The actions of the terrorists proceed on the tenet of extremism. The growth of terrorism is the logical corollary of the culture of extremism practiced in Iran, Pakistan and other nations Muslims and otherwise. Terrorism cannot and should not be tolerated under any circumstances, but what is not to be forgotten is the fact that the fountainhead of terror is extremism. Pakistan cannot escape its responsibility of promoting terrorists with the help of the U.S. administration, which was out to harm the Russian interests in Afghanistan. Equally Russian occupation of Afghanistan was not at all justified. Russia was replaced by America in this war game and conditions went worsening in the process creating all the more disturbing scenario building frustrated lot turning to terror.
Equally, Iran’s role in Syria supporting the reign of terror against the helpless citizens triggering the worst ever refugee crisis thus shaped all the more turmoil in the region. It is the extremism, whether of Iran brand or the Arab brand or any other brand, which has articulated the worst crisis leading to the disastrous consequences.
In our own country the communally charged atmosphere is not the good narrative for progress and development. What is needed is curbing the scourge of extremism of any hue and colour, which creates the conditions enacting the massacre at the holy shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. It is in the interest of the peace and harmony that the attributes of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar are cherished and practised to shape the unity of the people then any virulent polarisation forming the basis of disaster no end.
[Masood Peshimam is an Advocate in Kalyan (Thane), Maharashtra. He can be reached on his Mobile # 9323035209 / 7303173662 or contacted at email@example.com]