Kerala

Sunni factions bury their differences

Syed Jifri Muthukoya Thangal and Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musliar.

Syed Jifri Muthukoya Thangal and Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musliar.

The two rival Sunni factions led by Sayed Jifri Muthukoya Thangal and Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musliar have become friends again. They have buried their organisational differences for the time being, and are enjoying the closest relations ever since the Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama, the largest body of traditional Sunni Islamic scholars in Kerala, split in 1988.

The two factions, widely called AP (after Mr. Kanthapuram) and EK (after late E.K. Aboobacker Musliar) Sunnis, had fought many a battle in Malabar not only over ownership rights of mosques, madrasas and other Waqf properties, but also over issues concerning Islamic jurisprudence. A few activists were even killed during the fights between the two groups.

But they have buried their differences and have begun to share public platforms and also to support each other, thanks largely to the apolitical leadership of Jifri Thangal and the recent controversies over the Waqf Board appointments. The Waqf Board issue saw the EK Sunni faction putting its foot down and thwarting the attempts of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) to take the religious leadership of the Muslim community.

What endeared the EK Sunni group closest to the rival AP faction was the aggressive stand it took against the Wahabi or Mujahid or Salafi groups in the State in connection with the Waqf Board controversy. The EK and AP Sunni groups, who constitute almost two-thirds of the Muslim community in the State, were united in their demand for retrieval of Waqf properties allegedly wrested by the Mujahid groups.

Moreover, the ongoing anti-Wahabi lecture series being conducted by popular EK Sunni orator Rahmatullah Qasimi have gone down well with the AP faction. “We give unflinching support to Qasimi in his iconoclastic lecture series. He has exposed the extremist side of the Wahabi movement, which in Kerala is couched under the shroud of reformation. The differences between the Sunni groups are purely organisational and nothing beyond,” said Haris Madani, a young scholar of the AP faction.

The AP faction is happy that the EK Sunni group has begun not to toe the line of the IUML. The role played by the IUML in matters affecting religion and community always used to be the bone of contention for the AP faction. Now that the EK Samastha with its headquarters at Chelari deciding not to toe the IUML line, both the groups are sharing the same view with regard to matters of Waqf Board.


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 6:13:27 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/sunni-factions-bury-their-differences/article38419837.ece