Trinamool leaders urge Muslims not to display swords in Muharram processions
West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has reached out to community leaders, asking them to urge Muslims to refrain from displaying weapons in processions on the 10th day of the first month of the Muslim calendar, Muharram.
Some Shia Muslims self-flagellate with chains and swords in remembrance of the killing of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussain, in the Battle of Karbala (modern-day Iraq) in the 7th century. The practice has been discouraged in recent years with clerics urging people to donate blood instead.
“We have reached out to leaders of the community to ensure Muharram is observed in a way that does not hurt sentiments of members of other communities. We urge Muslims to shun the practice of carrying swords during processions not only because the practice has no sanction in Islam but also because such communal forces as BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) are trying to foment trouble around this practice,” said TMC parliament member Idris Ali.
The BJP and its affiliates have justified brandishing of weapons during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti celebrations in West Bengal, citing the tradition of display of swords and sticks during Muharram. The Bharatiya Janata Party welcomed the TMC’s initiative. “We welcome the move. It marks a moral victory for us,” said BJP Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh.
Several influential imams have advised Muslims not to carry weapons on Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, which falls on September 21.
“Muharram is our mourning month. Please do not indulge in the display of sticks and swords during processions. These have nothing to do with Islam... Please do not do anything that strengthens the hands of the communal and divisive forces,” said Kolkata’s Nakhoda mosque imam Maulana Shafique Qasmi at an event Ali on Wednesday.
Maulana Imdadul Rashidi, an imam from Asansol, called brandishing weapons during Muharram un-Islamic.
Rashidi had won praise earlier this year when he urged for peace even after his son was killed in a communal clash. His appeal calmed tensions.