NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A radical Muslim seminary in India, said to have inspired the Taliban, has issued a “fatwa”, or edict, against terrorism in a meeting attended by thousands of clerics and students.
The Darool-Uloom Deoband, a 150 year-old institute controlling thousands of smaller Islamic seminaries in India vowed to wipe out terrorism late on Saturday in New Delhi, an ageing rector said.
“Islam rejects all kinds of unjust violence, breach of peace, bloodshed, murder and plunder and does not allow it in any form,” Habibur Rehman, a senior rector said.
Teachings of the Deoband school and its strict interpretation of Islamic law, have spread to many countries, including Britain and Afghanistan.
Thousands of clerics and students, wearing white skull caps and flowing spotless tunics, cheered as Rehman read out a statement: “The religion of Islam has come to wipe out all kinds of terrorism and to spread the message of global peace.”
Senior clerics chanted slogans against terrorism, and many held placards that said “Islam mean peace” and “terrorism is an enemy, finish it”. Leaders asked those gathered to pledge and fight terror in all forms, witnesses said.
Analysts described the meet as a significant step towards addressing terrorism and bringing relief to India’s 140 million Muslims, who feel the acts of some individuals were tarnishing the image of the community as a whole.
“It is an awakening among them (Muslim groups) to the dangers that face them as a fallout of terrorism and suspected association of terrorism with Muslims,” Pran Chopra, a political analyst told Reuters on Sunday.
Indian Muslims have been implicated in bomb attacks in India in 2006 and a failed attack in Britain last year.
Last month, a group calling themselves “Indian Mujahideen” claimed responsibility for a blast that killed 65 people in Rajasthan.
The same group also criticised Muslim organisations in an email sent to various media houses last month.
Analysts say such threats were not making any impact as more and more religious groups were openly denouncing terrorism.
“The response by the Muslim population…has been worth noticing and the fatwa is a very welcome development,” Chopra said.
Muslims make up about 13 percent of India’s officially secular but predominantly Hindu population — giving it the third largest Islamic population after Indonesia and Pakistan.
Religious leaders from different faiths voiced their support for the Deoband school’s stand on terrorism on Sunday.