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‘Anyone can declare they are the new caliph and that they have restored the caliphate.’
‘The declaration by the ISIS will not be subscribed to by a large number of Muslims.’
‘If you are killing Muslims, then it is anti-Islam.’
‘One thing every Muslim is confident of is that the ISIS is incapable of bringing about an Islamic State.’
As the entire world looks at Iraq where the brutal rebels of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria continue their bloody battle, governments across the world fear the spread of their radicalism after they declared the formation of an ‘Islamic caliphate’.
S Q R Ilyas, a prominent member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, tells Vicky Nanjappa of Rediff.com what the formation of the caliphate means to Indian Muslims.
The ISIS has declared a new Islamist caliphate and their supreme commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the caliph or head. What are your thoughts on this?
Anyone can declare they are the new caliph and that they have restored the caliphate. However, this sort of declaration can’t be accepted when a group has taken control over a small part of the country. It is for the entire central Ummah (community) to come together and accept the caliph. The declaration by the ISIS will not be subscribed to by a large number of Muslims. The caliph is selected by the people and, in this case, a majority does not subscribe to the views of the ISIS militants.
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The ISIS militants are only targeting a particular sect of Muslims. How do you feel about the discriminate killings carried out by them?
As far as the ISIS is concerned, we are very doubtful it will last. Naturally, Muslims are upset with their style of functioning. Islam does not permit sectarian violence in any form. If you are killing Muslims, then it is anti-Islam.
What views do Indian Muslims have on the ISIS?
For Indian Muslims, the ISIS rebels are a group backed by the United States of America. We find it strange that the ISIS is backed by the US in Syria while in Iraq they are the group’s most vociferous opponents. The US has devised a strategy where they are getting Muslims to fight one another. We saw a similar case in Saddam Hussein. One thing every Muslim is confident of is that the ISIS is incapable of bringing about an Islamic State.
Some say that this bloodshed is owing to the lack of Sunni representation in the Iraq government. Do you agree?
I do concur. The Sunnis in Iraq feel they have been isolated. Their representation should be considered and they should be part of the government. I feel addressing this issue will restore peace in Iraq.
What is your take on the Sharia law that the ISIS militants are trying to implement?
As far as Sharia law is concerned, it has to be implemented by a government which has created a welfare state. Sharia law does not mean to handcuff people and order them to obey every diktat. At a time when people are fighting for their rights, Sharia law can’t be implemented. The ISIS cannot declare an Islamic State for the heck of it and then try and implement Sharia law. First, it has to address the needs of people and then put such a law in place. But, the kind of laws they want to implement, is not Islamic in nature.
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What does the implementation of Sharia law mean for women’s rights?
The Sharia law pertaining to women is very badly misinterpreted. Women are not the targets of Sharia law. Women have every right and they are equal to men. While the rights remain the same, the duties are however different. Women have a due share in governance.
Islam basically declares that a man is the head of the house and he should take care of women. If a woman is working, which she has every right to, then the money that she earns belongs to her. It is very unfortunate that people say Islam refuses rights to women when in reality the religion only says that women need to be respected.
What are your thoughts on Wahhabism, which is very radical in its thinking?
Wahabism is a different school of thought. While all schools of thought in Islam have the same approach, the Wahhabi school of thought is radical and this approach is not correct.
Is the Wahhabi school of thought present in India?
Yes. There is a certain group that is working in India to popularise this school of thought. Sadly, this group is being supported by those residing in Saudi Arabia and the Indian Muslim is not happy about this turn of events. The Wahhabis do not have a hold in India. In fact, it is the Hanafi school of thought which is followed by a large number of Indian Muslims.
Is the All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board doing anything to stop the spread of Wahhabism in India?
The Board does not oppose or support any section in particular. Every sect is respected by the Board. All we are trying to do is keep all Muslims united, despite the sectarian violence.