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Shia clerics divided over Iran issue

WHILE INDIA?S vote against Iran at the IAEA is being given religious colour, the Shia ulema (clerics) are sharply divided over the issue. Prominent Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad has taken a strong stand against the Congress, but ?Westward? looking clerics in the community have adopted a guarded approach.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2006 01:06 IST
M Hasan
M Hasan
None

WHILE INDIA’S vote against Iran at the IAEA is being given religious colour, the Shia ulema (clerics) are sharply divided over the issue.

Prominent Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad has taken a strong stand against the Congress, but ‘Westward’ looking clerics in the community have adopted a guarded approach.

The rift, depending on local political conditions, is reportedly countrywide.
In Lucknow, the rift on Iran is quite visible between Kalbe Jawad and Agha Roohi Abaqati.

Though Roohi refrained from commenting on India’s vote at IAEA, his ideological hostility to Tehran was visible at his sermon on Sunday when he assailed Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khameine for advising the Shia community to avoid reading ‘Hadise Kisa’ (prayer), which the community had been reciting for centuries for peace and protection.

The issue provided fodder to Roohi to attack the Iranian leadership.
Surprisingly, clerics connected with the All India Shia Personal Law (AISPLB), headed by Maulana Mirza Mohammad Athar, have maintained a stoic silence on the Iran nuclear issue. The reason is not far to seek. The board leaders have long been trying to cultivate the Congress.

Jawad had, in the past, assailed them for toeing the US line. A delegation of the AISPLB, led by Athar, had a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2005.

Sources said, after last September’s vote at the IAEA against Iran, the Congress-led UPA Government had carefully devised a plan to tackle “religious zealots” on the issue.

Sources indicated here on Monday that clerics close to the Samajwadi Party would not be able to do much on the issue. Reason: Two prominent centres — Nadvatul Uloom, Lucknow, and the Darul Uloom, Deoband, — which play a vital role in the countryry’s majority Hanafi community, will not come out in the open against the UPA Government because of Saudi Arabia’s pro-US stance.

The visit of Saudi King Abdullah, who is also guardian of Kaba (Mecca), is being interpreted in this connection in political circles. The oil rich kingdom is the main benefactor of these two centres of learning.

Moreover, the possibility of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), involving itself in the issue also appeared to be remote as the apex body of Muslims is packed with both pro and anti-Congress supporters, a member said.

Thus, the Congress has presumably taken care of “the majority within the minority”.

First Published: Feb 07, 2006 01:06 IST