'Defeat Communal Agenda': Jamiat Ulama Appeals Against Counter-Boycott of Non-Muslim Traders

The appeal for peace from India's largest Muslim body is significant as it comes at a time when Hindutva campaigning has led to an effective ban on Muslim traders at temples and temple festivals in Karnataka.

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New Delhi: The Karnataka wing of the Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind of Karnataka has issued an appeal to Muslims to not heed messages calling for the boycott of non-Muslim traders during the month of Ramadan.

The appeal is significant as it comes at a time when Hindutva campaigning has led to an effective ban on Muslim traders at temples and temple festivals. The latter, which take place at this time, are highlights of the traders’ year as they draw thousands of customers.

The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind is a century-old religious organisation and the largest Muslim body in India. Its circular, titled ‘An appeal to all Muslim brothers and sisters’ is dated March 26, 2022. It is signed by the Jamiat’s Karnataka president Mufti Iftikhar Ahmed Qasmi and general secretary Mufti Shamsuddin Bajali Qasmi. The circular, issued in Kannada, Urdu and English, was shared online on March 31 by journalist Mohammed Zubair.

“There is a message on social media also doing rounds calling for Muslims to purchase only from Muslim traders in the month of Ramadan, as if it’s a response from Muslims [to the boycott of Muslim traders at temples],” says the Jamiat’s appeal. It then asks Muslims to remain alert and note that these messages are not the reflection of popular Muslim sentiments.

“Do not, these messages are not issued by any Muslim organisation or religious leadership, and not not reflect the popular sentiments of the Muslim community. These types of malicious messages are not part of our culture and religion, and cannot be done or promoted by any sane Muslim,” the appeal adds.

The note also observes that these calls for boycotting non-Muslim traders during Ramadan may not even have arisen from Muslim quarters to begin with, but could be part of miscreants’ conspiracy. The fact checking outlet Alt News has published pieces that show that in several instances, rabble rousing tweets or other social media content propagating hatred are issued by Hindutva activists who pretend to be Muslim online so as to make it appear as if Muslims are leading an anti-Hindu agenda.

“We are already aware about the fake news culture spreading lies, and on top of it, from past few days few anti-social elements pretending to be Muslims on social media are doing such heinous acts of sending messages in the name of Muslims, whose agenda is to disturb peace and harmony among fellow citizens, which is a confirmed fact now,” the appeal says.

The religious leaders have also called on Muslims to “defeat such malicious agendas of promoting hatred” and at once “respect people of all religion and ensure that no harm is meted out to anyone.”

The note also asks for Muslims to deal with everyone with the best of manners and not differentiate between Muslims and non-Muslims. “These are the teachings of Islam. The protection of the rights of our neighbours has to be carried out in accordance with the teachings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” it says.

In its final paragraph, too, the letter requests Muslims not to fall for the communal agenda and discriminate between people on the basis of religion. It also repeats a word of caution before subscription to provocative information of any kind.

“We as responsible citizens need to investigate the authenticity of any/all messages prior to forwarding and also avoid sharing provocative messages that are being circulated on WhatsApp and other social media platforms,” it ends.

Meanwhile, pressure has mounted on the Karnataka government from its own legislators and from entrepreneurs to de-escalate the extent to which Muslims are being subjected to an economic boycott.

Member of Legislative Council Adagur H. Vishwanath and Member of Legislative Assembly Anil Benake have called the ban on Muslim traders “madness” and an infringement upon the right to equality.

Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has asked Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai to resolve the “growing religious divide” in the state, referring to the exclusion of Muslim traders from fares near temples.

In response, Bommai called upon “all sections of society to observe restraint before going public on social issues, as they can be resolved through discussions”.

Karnataka law minister J.C. Madhuswamy had earlier told the state assembly that non-Hindus are not allowed to do business in and around the premises of Hindu temples