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The Role of Ulema in promoting peace and maintaining harmony

In Surah At-Tawbah (9:122) of Quran, it has been said that “And it is not for the believers to go forth [to battle] all at once. For there should separate from every division of them a group [remaining] to obtain understanding in the religion and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious”. This verse has provided the Muslims a guiding principle which clearly highlights the importance of knowledge even when the situation is adverse. With this verse, a section of Muslims was charged with the responsibility of looking after the department of knowledge, to which they were to devote themselves entirely. This section of Muslims was later known as Ulema. This verse clearly shows that engaging in jihad through knowledge is more important than doing so through arms.

All India Imams Council (AIIC), the clerical wing (read Ulema) of extremist organisation Popular Front of India (PFI) has recently announced a fifteen-day national campaign on “Hijab: Dignity and Security” which will include webinars, family get together, Friday Khutbah etc. The campaign has been announced in support of the Muslim girls fighting over the Hijab issue. This campaign with political overtone is in clear contrast with the Quranic verse (9:122). Ulema by the virtue of the very title they are given, are considered to be more proficient in Islamic scriptures than any common Muslim. This campaign by AIIC defies all logic and instead of asking Muslims to devote their time in learning scriptures, they are pushing them towards a political controversy which has the potential to destroy the knowledge base of thousands of Muslim girls.

During an event organised by Norway based organisation “Islam Net”, Khalid Yasin, an American Islamic preacher said that – “As per the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, protesting or marching through the streets with banners and signs is not allowed in Islam. Protesting is for the weakest of the faith. Islam has a proper system of redressing grievances. It tells Muslims to select a suitable leader from amongst themselves who in turn will contact the right person from the administration and convey the grievances in a proper manner. This will ensure that the voices are heard and suitable action is taken.” The protesting girls never nominated a leader and protested jointly outside the college campuses which resulted in chaos. The matter related to Hijab is sub-judice and is currently being heard by three judge bench of the Karnataka High Court. While the merits and demerits of the case is heard against the backdrop of Constitutional rights, AIIC is promoting protests which is totally against the teachings of Islam.

Those who want to be leader of Muslims in the field of knowledge must possess the necessary skills. Not everyone can shoulder this responsibility. Prophet Muhammad advised Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, Abu Hurairah and Hasan ibn Thabit never to accept any political position and devote their time in the field of acquiring and disseminating knowledge. He didn’t say the same to Umar, Abu Bakr, Usman or Ali. This shows the importance of Ulema in the life of Muslims. Unfortunately, Ulemas like those affiliated to All India Imams Council have become politically motivated and have moved away from the path of knowledge while honing their political skills. This is not only in clear contrast to the teachings of Quran & Hadees but also a disgrace to the rich past of Ulema like Abu Huraira. It’s the responsibility of Muslims to make a distinction between politically motivated Ulema and knowledge driven Ulema and follow the later to promote the real face of Islam.

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