In Hyderabad, this Muslim group is on a cow protection mission
The group of about 150 people – including descendants of people of Arab origin who settled in Hyderabad when it was ruled by the Nizams of the Asaf Jah dynasty – contends that India’s Muslims began eating beef only about 250 years ago during the British Raj.india Updated: Oct 06, 2015 16:38 IST
At a time when the lynching of a man over rumours that he slaughtered a calf has focussed attention on the issue of cow slaughter, a Muslim group in Hyderabad has made protecting the animal considered sacred by most Hindus its mission.
The Arab Gowrakshana Samiti runs a ‘gowshala’ (cow shelter) at Barkas in the old quarters of Hyderabad, preaches against the eating of beef and helps rescue cows being taken for slaughter.
The group of about 150 people – including descendants of people of Arab origin who settled in Hyderabad when it was ruled by the Nizams of the Asaf Jah dynasty – contends that India’s Muslims began eating beef only about 250 years ago during the British Raj.
“The cow is a sacred animal for our Hindu brothers. Beginning from Babur and throughout the Mughal rule, the cow and the attached Hindu sentiment were shown respect,” Abdallah Bin Ali Bahmaid, 39, the president of the group, told Hindustan Times.
“It is the British that came later (who) encouraged the consumption of cow meat among Indian Muslims to drive a wedge between the two communities.”
The Samiti has condemned the lynching of 55-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq, who was killed by a mob in Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh over rumours that he had slaughtered a calf on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha. But it has also stressed the importance of respecting the “sentiments of larger Indian tradition and culture”.
The group formally began its activities on August 15 after discussions among its members over rising communal tensions linked to the eating of beef and the need to promote brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims.
Bahmaid, who says he is a lawyer, teacher, social worker and dairy farmer, claims Prophet Mohammed spoke against eating beef.
“The Prophet never ate cow meat and said its consumption can cause disease. It is unfortunate that there is a misconception among many Muslims about this aspect,” said Bahmaid, whose family runs a dairy with 21 cows.
“Such notions that beef has to be eaten by a Muslim should be dispelled. By not consuming cow, a great religion like Islam would not diminish.”
But Omar Abedeen, a prominent Shariah scholar of Hyderabad, said the Hadith – the record of sayings and traditions of the Prophet that is a major source of Islamic law – is interpreted in different ways by people and this might account for the Samiti’s beliefs on beef.
“Beef is not prohibited in Islam. Diet is something that is best left to individual choice, especially in a democratic nation. If someone wants to eat beef, let him,” Abedeen said.
Khalid Bin Ali Bajamaal, general secretary of the Samiti, said the group intends to expand its activities to other cities such as New Delhi with help of like-minded Muslims and Hindus.
The Samiti’s members are being censured for their beliefs by some Muslims though their campaign has been welcomed by Hindu groups in Hyderabad, who have invited them to festivals such as the recently concluded Ganesh Puja.