Muslim scholars in UP urge members to back PM’s 9pm call on April 5
With the Nizamuddin Markaz emerging as a hotspot of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country, influential members of the Muslim community have taken to mobilising the people to take steps that help bust myths.Updated: Apr 05, 2020 04:00 IST
In a video clip, which is doing the rounds in some closed WhatsApp groups, a Muslim doctor based in the US can be seen advising community members to light a candle or diya (earthen lamp)at 9pm on Sunday, April 5, to “remain in the mainstream of the country”.
“Today, people, including our own neighbours, are looking at us with suspicion. They will be watching us. Do light diyas to remove all misgivings about the community,” he says.
The doctor is not the only one.
With the Nizamuddin Markaz emerging as a hotspot of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country, influential members of the Muslim community have taken to mobilising the people to take steps that help bust myths, not just about coronavirus but also about the community.
And getting Muslims to openly answer the call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to light diyas, candles or flash torchlights for nine minutes at 9pm on Sunday to show solidarity in the fight against Covid 19, is one of them.
With mosques practically closed due to the lockdown, WhatsApp messages have come in as a handy tool for the clerics and scholars to disseminate the message.
‘NEED TO IMPROVE IMAGE’
Mufti Obaid-ur- Rahman of Gorakhpur feels the Nizamuddin incident has dented Islam’s image and thus it is their (the community’s) duty to correct it. He says, “There are WhatsApp groups of madarsa teachers, clerics, intellectuals and commoners, wherein appeals are being made repeatedly to abide by social distancing rules and join countrymen in lighting candles outside doors and on balconies on April 5. Earlier too, many Muslims here had joined the nation in ringing bells and clanging thalis to show their solidarity with frontline corona warriors. This time, too, we will follow the PM’s appeal.”
In Lucknow, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali, Imam of Eidgah (Aishbagh), says: “Muslims love their country and they must come out of this communal mindset to defeat coronavirus.”
Prominent Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad says, “The coronavirus doesn’t differentiate between Hindus and Muslims, so we must fight it together.”
Dr Javed Ahmed Siddiqui, who runs a clinic in Hussainganj locality of the state capital, says, “It’s time to prove that everyone is not like the Tablighis. Muslims are most liberal and scientific in approach. I have asked all my neighbours to join me in lighting diyas as this disease is a common enemy of both the communities.”
Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic group that urges Muslims to follow the practices of the religion, has been grabbing headlines since March 30 after several people who participated in a religious congregation held in its headquarters — Markaz, situated in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area — in mid-March were tested positive for Covid-19. The gathering was attended by hundreds, including foreigners, leading to intensive contact tracing efforts and enforcement of mass quarantine and isolation. On Saturday, the Union health ministry said that a third of the 3,000-odd Covid-19 cases reported in the country are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat.
In Agra, social activist and footwear exporter Nazeer Ahmad says, “The PM’s appeal is to Hindustanis and not Muslims and Hindus. Lighting lamps may not be a treatment of the coronavirus, but it is a token of the country’s unity to fight the disease.”
Prominent lawyer Amir Ahmad says, “Appeals by noted personalities are being issued through various channels.”
On Friday, religious heads of various communities met superintendent of police, City (Agra), Rohan Pramod Botre and expressed solidarity with the cause.
The clerics are also quoting verses of the Quran to convince the community members that religious assemblies can be avoided during emergency situations.
In Meerut, Shahar Mufti Qazi-e-Shariat Darul Qaza Saif-ur- Rehman, in a video released on social media, can be seen asking people not to move in groups as it will expose them to the virus and, in turn, cause problems for others.
On the PM’s appeal, Zainus Rasheedin, the Nayab Shahar Qazi and Aligarh president of Jamiat- Ulema- e- Hind, says, “It is a personal decision but one can use a cell phone torch instead of a candle or diya.”
Mufti Zulfikar, state president of All India Imam Association, says, “As the PM’s appeal has nothing to do with treatment and cure of the coronavirus, following it will be a personal decision.”
HELPLINE ON THE CARDS
Darul Uloom Farangi Mahal, a seminary in Lucknow, is planning to launch a helpline to remove misconceptions about Covid-19 in the society. “We are going to launch a helpline for answering queries of Muslims about the coronavirus,” says Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali.
“I saw a post by an educated Muslim on Facebook stating that the word corona is derived from Quran so it will not happen to Muslims. I couldn’t stop myself from writing that had this been true, the virus would not have affected the Muslim countries and Mecca and Medina would not have been shut down,” he adds.
IN DAMAGE-CONTROL MODE
In western Uttar Pradesh in particular, Muslim scholars and spiritual leaders are trying to control what they call the damage done by the Nizamuddin incident.
Qazi Zainus Sajeedin, former professor of Islamic mythology at Aligarh Muslim University, agrees that the Markaz committed mistakes, but adds that mistakes were also made on part of the district authorities who didn’t take adequate action for evacuating the jamatis in time.
‘DON’T MISBEHAVE WITH HEALTH WORKERS’
In Varanasi, Mufti-e-Banaras Maulana Abdul Batin Nomani has issued a video appeal. “When you return to your area from any other city, do go for testing as per government instructions. All of us should ensure the contagious disease doesn’t spread further,” he says.
He also appealed to the people not to misbehave with the medical staff. “I appeal to the awam (people) to welcome the medical team when they come to your doorstep for testing. Don’t misbehave with them. Treat them well and get your test done.”