Indian Shia and Sunni Unite in Hating Israel
A group of Indian Shia clerics, led by a prominent Shia Islamic leader, Kalbe Jawwad, has demanded breaking ties with Israel. In May Kalbe Jawwad, a cleric and member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, alleged that there has been a "flood of terror attacks in India" ever since Israel established an embassy there, and accused the Congress Party-led government of India of defaming the Muslim community as a whole.
The clerics accuse Israel and the United States of being the "biggest sponsors" of international terrorism, and are recommending that India focus on improving relations with Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority.
Maulana Jawwad, the most influential Wakf leader in India, has been organizing Muslims to demonstrate to pressure the central government of India to be more responsive to their demands. Wakf, an Arabic word, means "an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, donating building, land and cash for Muslims' charitable purposes."
Jawwad is also celebrated for holding the largest ever anti-U.S.-Israel-Denmark demonstration in Lucknow, the capital city of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Jawwad has invited a leader of the Sunni sect of India -- the Imam-E-Jummah, or Imam of the Friday prayer -- of the highly regarded Shahi Asafi Masque of Lucknow, Mawlana Khalid, to join his campaign.
Although Shiites and Sunnis do not pray together, as both sects have the same goal -- hostility to Israel -- the Shia cleric, to set a precedent, recently requested the Sunni Imam to lead a prayer service attended by both Shia and Sunni congregations.
On 30 March 2012, after the Friday prayer in Lucknow, thousands of Muslims held an anti-Israel protest led by Sunni Maulana Khalid Rasheed, demanding the "liberation" of Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque.
The Shia cleric, Maulana Jawwad, has taken charge of rescuing Karbala Motamadud-Daula, a building occupied by the Freemason Temple since 1879. Maulana Jawwad started a protest movement last year to seek the ouster of illegal occupants from it; and the Shia Central Wakf Board formed a 21-member committee headed by Jawwad.
At the same time, Indian Muslims are concerned about increasing ties between India and Israel, especially after the recent decision to establish an Israeli consulate in Bangalore, cooperation in boosting trade from $5 billion to $15 billion, and initiating an extradition treaty between the two. The Muslims of India, not only Uttar Pradesh, have unbroken relations with the Pakistani Muslims, who migrated from India during the partition of the sub-continent in 1947. Moreover, most of the Indian Muslims, whether Shia or Sunni, do not approve of India's policy on Afghanistan.
There are about 180 million Muslims in India, with approximately 25% of them Shia. In Uttar Pradesh, Jawwad's state, although less than 20% of the population are Muslims, they nevertheless have a strong influence on the society and in politics. The sitting government of Uttar Pradesh has also been supportive of Muslims.
Although the Shia and Sunni have long been mutually hostile, in recent years, as they found a common platform over which to instigate violence -- Israel, Jews and Wakf property -- their antagonism toward one another has significantly decreased.
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