Prominent maulanas and Islamic scholars of Uttar Pradesh have reacted strongly to Delhi Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Ahmed Bukhari's diktat to Muslims to keep off Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign because his supporters were chanting 'vande mataram'.
Leading Sunni cleric Maulana Abul Irfan Mian Firangi Mahli as well as well known Shia scholar and cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawaad were of the view that since Anna Hazare was not forcing anyone to cry out 'vande mataram', there was nothing wrong with Muslims joining the campaign launched by the social activist.
"The issue is not vande mataram but corruption and I see absolutely no reason why Muslims should be dissuaded from joining this campaign. We all know how corruption has been eating into our system and making lives of people miserable," Maulana Firangi Mahli said.
"After all, this slogan of 'vande mataram' was widely used by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom movement in which so many prominent Muslims stood by him and remained part of the struggle," the maulana pointed out.
He felt, "time was now ripe to exhort the youth of this country to rise up against corruption and the best way to do so could be by ensuring that the corrupt are not voted to power." He was of the view that it could be done by ensuring that Muslims do not support any candidate who spends tons of money in his campaign. "We must remember that anyone using money power in his election was bound to recover the same by illegal means no sooner than he gets elected," Maulana Firangi Mahli said.
Maulana Kalbe Jawaad said, "While we do not subscribe to chanting of 'vande mataram', which goes against the spirit of Islam, we have to join this great battle against corruption." He said that Anna was not forcing anyone to chant vande mataram. "While others recite 'vande mataram', Muslims can call out 'Allah-o-Akbar' or just remain quiet; yet they can continue to be a part of the anti-corruption movement that has gained so much momentum."
Referring to some suspicion being created in certain quarters about Anna being supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party, he said, "Well, if some people are trying to create this confusion, then it would be pertinent for Anna to make it a point to remove these doubts."
"As far as I am concerned, I am convinced that Anna has taken up the right cause and Muslims must stand up in his support with full force," he said.