ON Wednesday, the congested bylanes of Phoolbagan in central Kolkata that led to a house at Sir Syed Ahmed Road were overrun by television vans on Wednesday. Inside, Atef Ali Al Quaderi was busy handing out his visiting cards on which in bold black his ancestry was inscribed — the 35th descendent of the “Holy Prophet of Islam’’. He says, “My father is a direct descendant of the Prophet.’’
Quaderi finds himself in the eye of a storm after he reportedly pronounced a fatwa against Sonu Nigam. He, however, says that he was misquoted. “I never issued a fatwa against Sonu Nigam. I don’t have the right. People are calling me a maulana — I am neither a maulana nor a maulvi nor a mufti. Fatwas are issued by muftis. What I said about Sonu Nigam was simply my personal opinion,’’ he says.
On Monday, Quaderi, whose card describes him as the “religious leader of the Muslim community of West Bengal’’, held a communal harmony conference at the Kolkata Press Club along with leaders from other religions. This was where the media asked him to comment on Nigam’s statement. “I said that Sonu Nigam had no right to say what he did and hurt the sentiments of so many people. I didn’t just say his head should be tonsured. I said we will give Rs 10 lakhs to anyone who will tonsure his head, make him wear a garland of the worst shoes and take him to each household in India to apologise,’’ he says.
Quaderi who met visitors in the Kolkata home of his in-laws, lives in Bagnan in Howrah district from where he runs a khankah. Belonging to the Kadriya Sufi group, Quaderi says he is a peer and his followers include people from all religions.
Two years ago, a group of miscreants threw a bomb inside his Bagnan home. “They were from a Muslim group which had been threatening me for some time because I have consistently said that Islamic terrorists are actually not Islamic at all,’’ he says.