States & UTs

    Wahhabi sect in direct conflict with eclectic, tolerant, Sufist Islam in Kashmir

    April20/ 2022
    Last Updated:

    Srinagar: The radical, strait-laced, Wahhabi sect of Islam insists on literal interpretation of the Quran and the belief that all those who do not practice this form of Islam are pagans and enemies of the faith.

    This movement was founded by Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the 18th century in Najd, Central Asia.

    The Saudi royal family adopted this sect in 1744. The sect is today prevalent in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    Wahhabis call themselves 'Salfis' (Followers of pious forebears). The followers of this sect firmly believe that anybody who goes to the shrines of Sufis and Saints is practising 'Shirk' (Associate anything with Allah).

    'Shirk' is a sin which won't be pardoned by Allah on the day of judgement.

    Wahhabi influence is not new to Kashmir as followers of this practice have been here for the last 100 years.

    During the last 30 years, coinciding with the outbreak of the separatist violence, Wahhabi influence has multiplied manifold in Kashmir.

    Indian intelligence agencies attribute it to huge funding from Saudi Arabia and the gulf which is pumped into Kashmir ostensibly for constructing mosques and 'Madrassas' (Islamic seminaries to teach children).

    An alarming development has been that its non-philosophical, non-spiritual, simplistic interpretation of Islam has won Wahhabism a large number of followers in Kashmir especially among the youth.

    "This sect is in direct conflict with the tolerant, eclectic, compassionate and all encompassing culture of Kashmir that has been influenced by Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam in equal measure.

    "For the followers of Wahhabism, the belief is straight, my way or the highway," said a Kashmir religious scholar who wished not to be named.

    The result has been that the traditional benign Sufist Islam is fast giving way to ultra conservative and radical Salfi Islam which is expanding the catchment area for Jihadi terror groups.

    There has been a mushrooming of Wahhabi mosques in cities, towns and villages of Kashmir and this has overshadowed the old Sufi mosques and shrines.

    Old Kashmiris are still going to the shrines of local Sufis and Saints while one is alarmed by seeing very few youth in those crowds.

    Another local Islamic scholar says the greatest danger is that in the mosques and Madrassas run by the Wahhabis in Kashmir, the young excitable children and youth are constantly fed with an all pervading threat that Islam is allegedly facing from both outside and within.

    "Salfi Madrassas teach children that the enemy within (followers of tolerant Sufist Islam) are more dangerous than the enemy from outside, which includes followers of all other religions and faiths.

    "This siege mentality thus engendered is helping recruitment of cadres for Jihad," the scholar said.

    "Interestingly, little trusting the local Madrassa teachers and preachers at the mosques who have been baptised into tolerant Islam, the protagonists of Petrodollar Islam have brought in teachers and Mosque preachers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

    "What is more worrisome is that the acceptance and romance with the Salfi sect is not prevalent only among the youth of the poor families.

    "Majority of the Kashmiri youth who have been influenced by this sect and who have drifted away from Sufist Islam belong to upper middle class and the rich families of the Valley," said an intelligence officer.

    The officer said the ideologues for such misguided youth are the terrorist commanders of Syria and Iraq.

    Wahhabis advocate ban on music which is a prominent feature of Kashmir's Sufist Islam. Some scholars are attributing the growing distance between the Sunni and the Shia Muslims to the Wahhabi influence in Kashmir.

    These scholars also attribute the burning and sacrilege of Sufist shrines in the Valley during the last 30 years to the spread of the Wahhabi sect.


    Categories :States & UTsTags :