INTRA SECT VIOLENCE IN ISLAM

. 3. Mapping the four standard schools of Sunni Islamic law is relatively easy, among South Asian Sunni Muslims, the crucial challenge is that of separating Deobandis from Barelvis, both following Hafani law. Mapping the distribution of Deobandi and Barelvi adherents is all but impossible, as the two movements are spatially intertwined. One can, however, easily depict their place of origin, as both movements are named for towns in northern India: Deoband and Bareilly. The Deobandi movement is aligned with Salafism and advances an equally harsh, puritanical interpretation of Islam. Deobandi groups are most closely associated with Pakistan and Afghanistan, the movement‟s intellectual and spiritual heart is still the Indian city of Deoband. Its Darul Uloom Deoband is reputed to be the second largest madrasah (religious school) in the Sunni Muslim world, following only Al-Ahzar in Cairo.

4. Calcification of hardliners in Islam has always been a response to an external stimulus, the arrival of the British on the shores of India and spread of Christianity was considered a threat. Not known to many the Salafis were a major force during the War of Independence which was quelled by the British in 1857. The Deobandi movement began with the founding of the Darul Uloom Deoband in 1866. Deobandi leaders were distressed by the triumph of British colonialism and permeation of English- language education and culture into India, which they sought to combat by purifying their religion, stripping away mystical practices and other innovations that they viewed as contrary to the faith.

5. The Barelvi movement became known as Barelvi due to their leader Ahmad Raza Khan who established Islamic schools in 1904 with the Manzar-e-Islam. The Barelvi movement formed as a counter reformist movement to Deoband and defended the traditional sufi practices of South Asia, which it sought to prove and support. Barelvi Islam is more diffused, without a clear center of gravity. This schism forced the hardline Deobandis to regard Barelvis, as non-Muslim opponents deserving of attack. Barelvis significantly out-number Deobandis not just among Indian Muslims but in Pakistan as well. In Pakistan, however, Deobandis have been advancing of late, and Barelvis retreating. According to one estimate, “some 15 per cent of Pakistan‟s Sunni Muslims would consider themselves Deobandi and 60 per cent are followers of the Barelvi tradition. However 64 per cent of the total seminaries are run by Deobandis, 25 per cent by the Barelvis.

6. The relationship between the Deobandi movement and the state of Pakistan is ambiguous. Deobandi thinking is too traditional to be nationalistic, regarding the community of the faithful, not the modern nation- state, as the proper Quranic political vehicle. Most Deobandi scholars rejected the partition of British India in 1947, preferring to seek the spread of Islam in an undivided India. The idea of Pakistan, moreover, was originally embraced by Muslim groups despised by the hardline Deobandis. The father-figure of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was originally an Ismaili (a follower of the Aga Khan) who later converted to mainstream Shia ideology; the state he founded was at first strongly supported by Barelvis, Shi‟ites, Ismailis, and Ahmadis.

7. Over time, however, orthodox Sunni Islam came to dominate Pakistan. Zia-ul-Haq worked hard to turn Pakistan into a fundamentalist Sunni state, officially declaring the heterodox Ahmadis to be non-Muslims. Pakistani government under patronage of Saudi Arabia and salafi money has increasingly veered in the direction of the harsh Deobandi movement. The connection, however, is a two-edged sword for modern Pakistan, as the Deobandi faithful ultimately have contempt for national identities and borders. State sponsored Deobandi jihadist groups, such as the LeT (now Jamaat-ud-Dawa) and Jaish-e-Muhammad as a part of its defense policy to counter Indian influence in Kashmir. However the rise of terrorist groups with salafi-deobandi lineage which questioned the state of Pakistan and rooted for creation of an Islamic state like TTP and JuA sent the alarm bells ringing amongst the ruling clique of politicians and military. To counterbalance the effects of radical Deobandism, President General Pervez Musharrafpropagated Enlightened Islam anda state policy of upholding the Sufi Barelvi movement. In 2006, he formed the National Council for the Promotion of Sufism (NCPS) as an alternative to the ideology of the more fundamentalist Deobandi subsect. However, this state patronage of Barelvi organizations is likely to embolden their followers as the flag bearers of their version of Sunni Islam. The meteoric rise of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) under Maulvi Khadim Rizvi both in political and societal space has again upset the balance of power within Pakistan.

8. Considering the sensitivity of the blasphemy issue in Pakistan, the TLP will potentially continue to assert its agenda. As such, even though the Barelvi subsect is responsible for less than one percent of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, the group has contributed to intolerance through mainstream mobilization of anti-minority and pro-blasphemy law sentiments. TLP and similar radical Barelvi groups in future are likely to organize themselves as insurgent or terrorist organizations to assert themselves against the Deobandi groups. Their followers will further exacerbate sectarian and religious intolerance within the country. This is likely to manifest in continued incidents of mob violence and vigilante justice using the exclusionary propaganda of the organization as justification.

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