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Kerala's Warring Sunni Groups Now in Tussle Over Appointment of First South Indian as Grand Mufti of Muslims

Kerala's Warring Sunni Groups Now in Tussle Over Appointment of First South Indian as Grand Mufti of Muslims

The EK faction alleges that the anointment of Musliyar to the key post has not been done by the authorised body of Barelvi Muslims.

Asheem PK
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The standoff between Kerala’s two warring Sunni groups is primed to reach another boiling point as the EK faction of Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama has come out in open terming the appointment of AP faction chief Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musliyar as the grand mufti of India a farce.

The EK faction alleges that the anointment of Musliyar to the key post has not been done by the authorised body of Barelvi Muslims. He is the first person from south India who was elected for the top position of Muslim community.

Musliyar, who has been the general secretary of the Samastha AP faction, was selected as ‘Grand Mufti,’ a position which enables him to give advice and opinion on Islamic jurisprudence and religious practices of the Sunni sects in the country, at a conference held at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on February 25. Soon after Kanthapuram's elevation as the mufti, the rival EK faction started raising doubts over the appointment.

Launching a scathing attack on the newly appointed ‘grand mufti’, Sunni EK faction leader Dr Bahauddeen Muhammed Nadwi said no 'authoritative' body of the Barelvi Muslims has appointed Kanthapuram to the top post. Barelvis are followers of Sunni Hanafi school of jurisprudence which was named after Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, the hometown of its founder Ahmed Raza Khan.

“Grand Mufti position was started by last Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar, where since its beginning, the most popular Muslim scholar in North India is usually appointed to the position. The position fell vacant as 80-year-old Mufti Akhtar Raza Khan passed away in July last year and his deputy has been looking after his responsibilities after that,” says Nadwi who is the vice chancellor of Darul Huda Islamic University, in Kerala’s Malappuram district.

“The authorised Barelvi leaders are set to select their new grand mufti later this month,” Nadwi says. According to Nadwi, ‘it’s impossible’ for a scholar who is following the Shafi school of thought to be selected as a mufti for a sect with a majority of ‘Hanafi’ followers.

Nadwi, who is also a member of the 40-member decision-making body of Samastha, said that the repeated provocation by Kanthapuram could possibly create hurdles in the ongoing rapprochement efforts between the two sections. “It’s for the committee appointed to mediate the talks to decide on the future course of action,” Nadwi added.

In October last year, Kanthapuram had claimed that he had received a fresh ‘Shar-e-Mubarak’ (sacred hair belonging to prophet) from holy city of Medina in addition to the existing one that was put on display at the premises of Markaz, a college near Kozhikode. This drew severe criticism from EK faction.

Last year, both factions of Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama, led by Syed Jifri Muthukoya Thangal and Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker, had appointed a team of four-member mediators to end a three-decade-long tussle.

News18 tried to reach out to the leaders of AP faction multiple times, but they refused to respond to the controversy.


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