THE SHAHI Imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan Masjid, one of the most powerful Muslim leaders of Bengal, on the occasion of Eid on Thursday condemned the recent attacks in Bangladesh, Medina and Baghdad and described the terrorists as “anti-Islam” and “kafirs” (one who does not believe in God).
Shahi Imam Syed Mohammad Nurur Rahman Barkati also went on to slam Islamic preacher Zakir Naik for “misleading people” and demanded that his shows be banned in India. His speeches had reportedly inspired those who attacked the Holey Artisan Cafe attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 1.
“Human beings are behaving like haivans (monsters). The almighty Allah’s own people have died. The circumstances are such now that we cannot differentiate between real and fake Muslims. What kind of a Muslim attacks Mecca Medina — our holiest place? A Muslim would never do that. It is not okay to attack anyone — Muslim, Hindu or Christian. I condemn this terrorism. These terrorists are anti-Islam. They are kafirs,’’ he said.
He added that the spurt in such attacks and increasing violence was sending a wrong message about Islam and Muslims to the international community and the “civilized world”.
Speaking about Ishrat Akhond and Faraaz Hossain — the two Bangladeshis killed the Dhaka attack — the Shahi Imam said: ‘’The boy was killed because while he knew Quran, he refused to leave his friends behind. The woman was killed because she didn’t recite the ‘Kalma’. What kind of Islam is this? I am the Shahi Imam of Bengal and I condemn this. Wearing certain clothes and eating certain food does not make you a true Muslim.”
He added that on his many visits to Bangladesh, he had told Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take a strong stand against such extremism. “She needs to create a strong administration,” he said.
The Shahi Imam went on to call for an investigation into Zakir Naik’s activities. “Let there be an investigation. Zakir Naik ulta pulta bolta hai (Zakir Naik speaks rubbish)… He is exhibiting Islam on television shows for his own personal good. I am the Imam of Bengal, but how many times do you see me preaching on TV?” he asked.
“Naik is also amassing huge wealth. Where is this money coming from? Who is funding him? The government needs to investigate this. He is but a simple man. He is not an Islamic scholar. Aise Islam nahi phelaya jata (Islam cannot be spread in this manner). Islam doesn’t give permission for such activity,” he said.
The Shahi Imam added: “I have already conveyed my concerns about him to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. I have told her that he is not a good person and demanded that his channel be banned in our country.”
“We are proud to say that in the last 50-odd years, there has been no such violence in West Bengal. The Quran does not permit this sort of violence. It says that such perpetrators are worse than janwars (animals). They don’t listen to the good in the Quran, but instead misinterpret it to suit themselves. This is not religion. Religion teaches us to live together. Our India is a secular India. This is not Islam. Islam does not teach brotherhood only among Muslims, Islam teaches brotherhood among all human beings,” said the Muslim leader.
Maintaining that the Union and Bengal governments had the full support of the state’s Muslims in fighting terrorism, he said: “We are a part of the fight against terrorism. Muslim and Hindu brothers will together fight the terrorists.”
The Shahi Imam further said that the porous Bangladesh border was a concern for Bengal and the country with unabated smuggling of arms, drugs, syndicate culture and a thoroughfare for illegal immigrants. “I have told the chief minister that she must be stern about the border issue. She has our support,” he said.
Claiming that RSS was contributing to the increasing polarisation being witnessed in the country, the Shahi Imam said: “Woh Bharat ko nahi samajhte, Bharat ka rang tiranga hai aur woh zafrani rang khilana chahte hai (They don’t understand India. India’s colour is the Tricolor and they want to saffronise it). They had said they will bring development. We haven’t seen any so far. Aise jhoot se desh nahi chalega (The country won’t run on lies).”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines