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Moderates: The Barelwi Paradox

January 5, 2011

By Saiful Islam

The assassination of one Salman Taseer has rocked Pakistan. All the big Western guns are up in arms about the demise of the “moderate” Salman Taseer.  But the West and particular Britain, is now faced with a paradoxical situation.  Allow me to elucidate.

Barelwis are meant to be moderates.  The Government-funded, British Muslim Forum and the thoroughly exposed, now defunct, neoconservative Sufi Muslim Council were set up by Barelvis to tackle violent extremism and tap into the lucrative “Muslim” government mouthpiece market.  In the case of the BMF, it issued a “fatwah” on behalf of 500 clerics stating,

“There neither place not justification in Islam for extremism, fanaticism or terrorism”.

Recently, they issued a statement supporting the ban on Dr Zakir Naik, perhaps because he is a “waabiy” and not “Sunni”, however that is defined.

The Barelwis, thus, are the darlings of those seeking to reform Islam since they fit neatly into the agenda.  They are the “peaceful”, “moderate”, “Sufi” and of course the “mainstream” of the Muslim community, in case there was any doubt about their Government serving abilities.

The paradox manifests:  the Salman Taseer situation has brought out some “fundamentalist”, “puritanical” and somewhat “extremist” display from the “moderates”.  According to one report:

“Barelvi scholars, who claim to be the ‘true lovers of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)’, have taken a more hardline stance. The largest body of the Barelvi group, the Jamaate Ahle Sunnat Pakistan (JASP), whose directions are considered binding on every other organisation that follows the same school of thought, issued a statement saying that “No Muslim should attend the funeral or even try to pray for Salmaan Taseer or even express any kind of regret or sympathy over the incident.”

The statement which has been endorsed by senior Barelvi leaders such as Professor Saeed Shah Kazmi, Allama Syed Riaz Hussain Shah, Syed Shah Turabul Haq Qadri and Hajji Mohammad Tayyab calls the assassin Mumtaz Hussain Qadri ‘Ashiqe Rasool Ghaziye Mulk (Lover of the Prophet, Commander of the Country)’.

“We pay rich tributes and salute the bravery, valour and faith of Mumtaz Qadri,” the statement said, adding that the ministers, politicians, ‘so-called’ intellectuals and anchor persons should learn lessons from the governor’s death.”

It seems the Western powers and the right-wing neoconservatives will have to redefine their definition of a “moderate” and “mainstream” Muslim.

The purpose of this article? It’s certainly NOT to attack the Barelwis but to illustrate the use and abuse of Muslim groups by Western governments.  Back in March 2009 I wrote a blog entry where I enumerated the story of the lion and the three bulls, and how the lion, befriending each one separately, and thus dividing the bulls eventually devoured all three.  It is only a matter of time when Barelwis will be seen in the same light as other “puritanical” and “radical fundamentalist” groups.  In fact judging by some of the comments on an entry in the Guardian, it seems the the inception phase of this process has begun.

Muslims need to understand that, there may be a period where a certain group will be glorified and paid handsomely for their services by their masters, but just like the third bull who was eventually devoured despite his loyalty, a time will come when they will be next on the hit list.

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One comment

  1. This is exactly what came to my mind when I heard of the ‘firqa’ from which the bodyguard belonged.

    What now, will the Brelvis of the UK now distance themselves from the Brelvi Asassin for ‘defending’ Islam and the Prophet, especially since their Ulema have fully backed him?

    Will they put their lucrative but fast drying up PVE funding and seat at(under) theie masters table at risk by openly supporting their own Ulema?

    Problems Problems, money or principles, we will see which way the they swing.

    Also this is a very important and almost non-sectarian point.

    When they the christian US and NATO drop bombs from 40’000 feet they dont differentiate between Brelvis, Deobandis, Salafis, and Wahabis.

    They kill, women and children indiscriminatley because they are brown, muslim and in the wrong part of the earth.

    Where is the outrage and three days of mourning for the victims of Drone Terrorism?



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