Calls for peace and harmony peppered with condemnation for the terrorist outfit Islamic State (IS) rang out from mosques across India as millions of Muslims celebrated a somber Eid under the shadows of religion-fuelled violence.
The run up to this year’s Eid has been particularly bloody across the world with two back-to-back terrorist attacks in Bangladesh and a string of blasts and suicide bombings in countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey among others.
“The IS is anti-Islamic and all its activities are against Islam,” said Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, the imam of Lucknow’s Eidgah mosque at a congregation on Thursday to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramzan.
“This terrorist organisation has no connection with Islam and Muslims of India and all across the world must condemn it,” he said even as neighbouring Bangladesh witnessed yet another deadly attack; this time on an Eid gathering in Kishoreganj, 100 kilometres north of Dhaka.
Thursday’s attack was the second terrorist strike in Bangladesh in less than a week. Nearly two dozen people were killed at an upscale café in the country’s capital last Friday after it was stormed by terrorists claimed to be from the IS.
Clerics of other cities and towns joined the Lucknow imam in denouncing the IS and its brand of violence. “Islam is pro-people and peace-loving. It condemns attack on innocents. There can be nothing called Islamic terrorists. If they are terrorists, they are not Muslims,” pointed out Noor-ur Rahman Barkati, the Shahi Imam of the iconic Tipu Sultan mosque in Kolkata.
“No religion - Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity or Islam - allows violence on innocent people. These so-called Islamic terrorists are nothing but gangs of robbers. What they are preaching is not Islam,” Barkati added.
Barkati said killing innocent people could never be jihad. “Jihad is all about saving man’s life. They are not jihadis but a bunch of uncivilised, uncultured and illiterate miscreants. They are worse than beasts,” he said. Barkati also denounced Zakir Naik, the Mumbai-based preacher alleged to be inspiring terrorists with his hate-filled sermons.
Muqarrum Ahmed, the imam of Delhi’s Fatehpuri mosque, urged the youth not to get carried away but read the Quran to understand the real meaning of Islam. “ We also urged the Government to not arrest Muslims just on the basis of suspicion. We are very patriotic and can lay down our lives for the nation,” he said.
Many thronging the mosques for Eid prayers echoed the sentiments voiced by the clerics. “We prayed for India’s prosperity and an end to terrorism,” said Sabiha Khan in Lucknow after offering prayers at the Eidgah mosque.
(With inputs from Lucknow and Kolkata)