[sacw] SACW Dispatch | 9 Sept. 00
Fri, 01 Jan 1988 02:18:29 -0800
South Asia Citizens Web Dispatch
9th September 2000
#1. Re-assertion of the Barelvis in Pakistan
#2. Kashmir beauty salon shooting
#3. The Politics Of Rewriting History (Talk in California on Sept 10)
The Friday Times
8 september 2000
Re-assertion of the Barelvis in Pakistan
by Khaled Ahmed
Pakistan began its religious journey in 1947 as a Barelvi-Deobandi state
under the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. The Barelvi school was
dominant in Punjab while the Deobandi seminaries predominated in the
NWFP and Balochistan among the Pakhtun tribes. Because both were
Hanafites, there was much common ground between them. The Barelvis
inclined to popular Islam while the Deobandis inclined to puritanism on
the basis of their superior ability to teach the Quran. There were other
highly respected schools of jurisprudence, among whom the non-Hanafite
Ahle Hadith were quite prominent. Reformers like Maulana Mawdudi
stood somewhere between the two as a kind of political bridge. Among
the ulema, the Deobandis and the Barelvis at times refused to say their
The rise of the Deobandis: The Afghan war was fought by the
Islamists whose mazhab (jurisprudence) was never really a matter of
friction. From the Pakistani side, it was Jamaat-e-Islami in tandem with
the Hezb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who dominated the jehad,
while the Deobandi party, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), remained on
the fringes. One can say that the Afghan war before 1996 was not
mazhab-dominated. It was never at issue that the Barelvis and the
Deobandis were not taking part in it. It was in 1996 that the rise of the
Taliban brought to the fore the 'definition' of jehad as Deobandi.
Afghanistan was always Deobandi-dominated, but the rise of Mullah
Umar put the Deobandi stamp on it. Pakistan released 80,000 students
of Deobandi seminaries in the NWFP and the Tribal Areas to assist the
Taliban invasion of Kabul in 1996. The rise of the JUI as the champion
of the war in Afghanistan started the process of Deobandi dominance in
The jehad in Kashmir, which began in 1988-89, was at first dominated
by the non-Deobandi Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and
Jamaat-e-Islami, both able to gather militant support on either side of
the Line of Control (LoC). However, as more and more mujahideen
became available from the Afghan front, the Kashmir jehad began to
show a variety of mazhab. Foreigners who came over from Afghanistan
also introduced the Ahle Hadith or Wahabi element into the war. The
mujahideen began to demonstrate a new puritanism vis-a-vis the Muslim
population in Held Kashmir. The rise of Harkatul Ansar (later Harkatul
Mujahideen) as a fighting force inside Held Kashmir marked the rise of
Deobandi mazhab in Pakistan as well. Inside Pakistani society, Deobandi
Sipah-e-Sahaba had already put forward its anti-Shia demands in 1980.
Its power increased as its seminarians found their way into the Kashmir
jehad through Harkatul Ansar-Mujahideen.
Signs of Deobandi decline: By the year 2000, Afghanistan presented
the scene of a Deobandi revolution become an Islamic emirate while
Pakistan looked like embracing a purely Deobandi jehad in Kashmir.
Jamaat Islami had undergone political eclipse in Islamabad after 1996.
Its jehadi militia Hizbul Mujahideen in Pakistan likewise took a lower
profile while also suffering splits. The Jamaat stayed away from the
sectarianism that took hold of Pakistan after 1980 and reached its
crescendo during the 1990s. However, after reaching its high-water
mark, the Deobandi jehad also split in 2000. In July, Hizbul
Mujahideen introduced a major obstacle in the rise of the Deobandi
Islam by announcing a ceasefire in Held Kashmir. This was accompanied
by a rising profile of Jamaat Islami under the charismatic and
non-sectarian leadership of Qazi Hussain Ahmad. Time had perhaps
arrived for the 'rationalisation' of the hostile Deobandi brand of Islam
in Pakistan. The shift to Deobandism in 1996 now promised to revert to
the non-Deobandi track.
Pakistan's society meanwhile reacted to the puritanism and extremism of
Deobandism by inclining to the popular Islam of the Barelvis. The first
manifestation came through charismatic organiser-mystics who
advocated an apolitical direction. Their strength was their contacts in
expatriate Pakistani communities who were untouched by jehadi Islam.
Two charismatic personalities appeared in Sindh and Punjab: Allama
Ilyas Qadiri of Dawat-e-Islami and Allama Tahirul Qadiri of Pakistan
Awami Tehreek. Their rise in the 1990s was a feat of organisation
among the masses who sought solace in the popular version of Islam. The
'green turbans' of Dawat-e-Islami were to rival in Multan the annual
congregation of Deobandi Tablighi Jamaat in Lahore. They also rivalled
the more jehadi congregation in Lahore of Ahle Hadith Dawatul Irshad,
the parent organisation of the militia, Lashkar-e-Tayba. Allama Tahirul
Qadiri also gathered his Barelvi flock in large congregations in Lahore
and stepped into electoral politics by offering his party as an
alternative to the secular parties.
Rise of Barelvi organisations: In the late 1990s, another Barelvi
organisation arose in Karachi under the name of Sunni Tehreek under
the charismatic leadership of Riaz Hussain Shah of Multan. Because of
its aggressive claim on the refugee population in the city it fell foul of
the MQM which delayed the spread of its influence for some time.
However, after the split and decline in the MQM ranks, it has arisen as
an opposite pole to the Deobandi headquarters of Banuri Mosque headed
by Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai with direct links to the jehad and its two
leaders, Mullah Umar in Afghanistan and Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the
JUI in Pakistan. The Sunni Tehreek has shown aggression in its protest
against the giving of important religious posts to Deobandis. Its branch
in Lahore has become quite outspoken and has publicly declared its
opposition to the appointment of a Deobandi cleric as khateeb of
Badshahi Mosque and other similar appointments. Another stake that the
Sunni Tehreek wishes to revive is the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat movement
against the Qadiani sect which was wrested from the Barelvis in the
1980s by the Deobandis in Punjab. The first Khatm-e-Nabuwwat
movement was led by Maulana Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi of the Barelvi
Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP) but it is today led by a Deobandi
cleric, Manzur Chinioti. The recently murdered Maulana Ludhianvi of
Banuri Mosque, a partisan of Sipah-e-Sahaba and its new force in
Punjab, Jaish-e-Muhammad, was also a great Deobandi champion of
Khatm-e-Nabuwwat. The difference between Barelvi and Deobandi
championship of the cause is that the latter are inclined to include Shias
too in their war against heresy. Thus when Sunni Tehreek protests
Deobandi appointments it refers to them as 'sectarian'.
Barelvi avoidance of anti-Shia rhetoric: Sunni Tehreek's attraction
lies in its Barelvi avoidance of anti-Shiaism. For instance the Sunni
Tehreek leader Riaz Hussain Shah of Multan has been contributing to
the government's drive to patch up the Shia-Sunni conflict by
addressing Shia gatherings, thus reviving the old tradition of sharing the
devotion to the imamate of Ali and the martyrdom of Hussain without
going into the ghuluww literature that the Deobandis are not able to
ignore and have made the basis of their drive to get the Shias declared
non-Muslims. This move is underpinned by another Barelvi organisation
called Itehad Bainul Muslimeen which endeavours to defuse the
Shia-Sunni schism and organise trouble-free ashura observance. This
organisation is run by Javed Akbar Saqi, the son of a known late
Barelvi leader of the JUP, and Pir Asif Ali Gilani. Their policy has
taken them to go to Iran to seek support which has been forthcoming.
They enjoy good relations with Tehreek-e-Jaafaria representing the
Shia community which has also stayed away from the jehad although
some members of their Imamia student wing have fought against Israel
on the side of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Barelvi organisation and funding: The Barelvis have arisen in great
force in 2000 because of their genius of organisation and acquisition of
funds which now outstrip the Deobandi capacity. They attract Sunnis
tired of the sectarian conflict and inclined traditionally to the more
mystical side of popular Islam. For instance, Allama Tahirul Qadiri's
over 1900-kanal university complex in Township in Lahore has an etekaf
hall seating thousands of devotees. Another mystical order, Tanzeemul
Ikhwan in Chakwal, led by charismatic Maulana Akram Awan, offers the
Naqshbandi style of chilla for the believers. When Sunni Tehreek's
Riaz Hussain Shah holds his meetings in Multan he is able to invite
Maulana Akram Awan and Qazi Hussain Ahmad, which outlines the basic
cooperative trend among the non-Deobandi organisations. The Jamaat
Islami inclination of building bridges with organisations of a different
mazhab allows its leaders to increase the Jamaat's broad appeal. For
instance, it was possible for Syed Salahuddin, leader of Hizbul
Mujahideen, to go for chilla to the seminary of the Naqshbandi
Tanzeemul Ikhwan in Chakwal.
The reassertion of Barelvism in Pakistan is firstly owed to the funding
the leaders have been able to garner from the expatriate Pakistani
community. For instance, their marriage service allows them not only to
collect funds but to open new offices abroad through the bride-grooms
they provide to the orthodox middle-class Pakistani families abroad.
Some measure of this power can be had from the fact that one Barelvi
leader of Lahore was able to address a mammoth gathering at
Minar-e-Pakistan over the telephone from Paris. The gathering was
provided buses for travel to the venue and meals during the speech.
Political parties with lack of funds have at times aligned with Allama
Tahirul Qadiri because of the latter's ability to fund processions and
public meetings. The populist stance of the Barelvis, however, includes
insistence on the enforcement of Shariah, in which the Sunni Tehreek
has become more aggressive than the Deobandis. Another Barelvi cleric
to rise to power is Riaz Hussain Naqvi of Ittefaq Mosque funded by the
family of Nawaz Sharif. He is supposed to have in turn funded a number
of personalities like Sarfraz Naimi of Jama-e-Naimiya in favour of the
anti-government campaign in Lahore. He has also said to have funded
Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan to facilitate the dominance of the PML in
the APC planned for August 2000.
A change seems to be in the offing after the rise of a non-sectarian and
non-extremist (vis-a-vis foreign policy) Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the
temporary abstention from jehad in Kashmir by the non-Deobandi
Hizbul Mujahideen (which fought 60 percent of it) and the rise of the
Barelvi organisations. There are extremely rich individual clerics, like
Dr Israr Ahmad and Dr Murtaza Malik, who don't fall into any
category, but who will assert themselves once Pakistan experiences a
further real decline in the influence of the militant Deobandi mazhab.
The last upsurge of the Barelvi mazhab took place in the 1930s with the
success of Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi. The Afghan jehad in the 1990s was
the opposite swing of the historic pendulum.
BBC News Online: World: South Asia
Friday, 8 September, 2000, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Kashmir beauty salon shooting
By Altaf Hussain in Srinagar
Suspected militants have shot and injured three people inside a beauty
Srinagar, the capital of Indian administered Kashmir.
Unknown assailants stormed a beauty salon at the Gonikhan market on Friday
afternoon and fired indiscriminately.
The owner of the salon, Mohammad Mohsin, and two women were injured.
One of the women worked at the salon and the other was a customer.
Mr Mohsin was injured in the abdomen and his condition is said to be serious.
In recent years, separatist militants have issued several warnings to Muslim
women to observe the Islamic code of conduct.
There have been a few incidents in the past when the militants have shot women
in the legs for wearing tight trousers or clothes revealing parts of their
No militant group has admitted responsibility for the latest incident.
Dr K.N.Panikkar addresses the COALITION FOR AN EGALITARIAN & PLURALISTIC
THE OTHER AS ENEMY:THE POLITICS OF REWRITING HISTORY
Sunday Sep.10, 1.15-4.15pm, in the YMCA, San Pedro (Los Angeles area), 301
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