POLICE AND intelligence officers in Kannur of North Kerala are probing an Islamic preacher after some his speeches, which have gone viral on social media, have shown him advising Muslims to shun non-Muslims.
Shamsudheen Fareed, 42, runs a madrasa in Kannur where he teaches the Qur’an to some 20 students besides delivering speeches across the state. Fareed is also a UGC lecturer but has been suspended from an Arabic college in Malappuram after being arrested in 2012 on charges of sexually abusing one of his students. He dismisses the charges as false, “foisted on me for campaigning against Muslim extremist organisations like SIMI and Jamaat-e-Islami”.
A senior police officer in Kannur said they have collected and are examining all of Fareed’s speeches. “His speeches are slightly provocative,” the officer said. “Even if the speeches do not advocate attacks on non-Muslims, they clearly warn believers that being part of a ‘pluralistic society’ is un-Islamic. In his speeches he advocates that Muslims should not participate in the religious festivals of non-Muslims, that they should not become close to non-Muslims, that they should not follow local calendars with a religious tradition, and that they should avoid living in areas populated by non-Muslims.”
The officer said legal aspects of the case are being examined. “It is at a very preliminary stage. We have spoken to people who are close to him,” the officer said.
Fareed follows neo-Salafism, a school of thought based on a puritanical idea of Islam of resisting western values
because these allegedly “make people non-believers”. He said he had not made hate speeches but was stressing the importance of the Islamic way of life for believers. He also drew a line between his ideals and those of Islamic State.
“Islam doesn’t agree with the Islamic State kind of attacks. Leading a Salafi life, I am against IS as well as SIMI elements, those who support Jamaat-e-Islami and Sufis who follow polytheism through dargahs,” Fareed told The Indian Express. Yet, he added, “We are also against the idea of Muslims living a secular life, forgetting the values of Islam, and merging with or adapting to the practices of kafirs. I spoke against Onam or Christmas celebrations because they have a religious and ritualistic context. Engaging in such festivals would be un-Islamic.”
Like Zakir Naik, whose speeches too are being probed, Fareed calls on believers not to celebrate birthdays and Christmas or follow such “western” or religious practicices.
People who have known Fareed for over two decades say he is a soft-spoken man who, at the same time, delivers controversial speeches on stage. Several mainstream Muslim organisations have come out to criticise the interpretation of Islamic ideas by Fareed, who hails from the Malabar region — from where, incidentally, 21 Muslim youth went missing recently to join IS groups on the Afghanistan-Syria border.
Fareed was once part of T P Abdulla Koya Madani’s Mujahid group. Hussain Madavoor, a Mujahid leader who split from Madani and formed his own group about 14 years ago, is considered more liberal compared to the official group, although he too has taken a stand against lighting lamps during auspicious events and the idea of Sufi Islam.
Madavoor said Fareed has been a provocative speaker since his student days. “After the split, Fareed stood by the official group and continued there until he was sacked from the organisation,” Madavoor said.
“Fareed’s lectures about the life of Muslims in a pluralist society spring from his ignorance because the Prophet himself was helped by a non-Muslim in his childhood. It was non-Muslims who supported him during the crucial fights in his life,” Madavoor said. “These [Fareed’s ideas] are dangerous interpretations of Islam.”