Sects Within A Sect: Mufti Ayub Disallowed To Deliver A Sermon In Chrar-e-Sharif

Mosque Authorities In Chrar-e-Sharif recently objected to a scheduled sermon by valley’s famous religious cleric Maulana Mufti Ayub who is an Islamic preacher, orator and a well known Islamic scholar.

Mufti Ayub who was reportedly supposed to deliver a sermon in the central mosque of Chrar-e-Sharif received severe backlash from a religious organisation belonging to another school of thought – Tehreek-e-Soutul Auwliya.

Tehreek-e-Soutul Auwliya is an Islamic religious seminary and welfare organisation in Jammu and Kashmir which actually objected to the delivering of sermon by Mufti Ayub who as per them belongs to a sect that opposes traditional Sufi practices such as celebrating the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad(PBUH) and seeking help from him, the celebration of Urs, pilgrimage to the shrines of Sufi saints.

The event was cancelled after the mosque authorities in Chrar-e-Sharif received backlash for allowing a religious cleric of a different sect to deliver a sermon and a call recording that went viral on social media unfolded the reasons behind the cancellation of the event.

A phone call purportedly between one of the committee heads of the mosque and a religious cleric belonging to Soutul Awliya sect who outrightly objected to the event and went on to say that, “if the event takes place, it could have some serious consequences.”

The Sunni Muslims of Asia are divided into two major sub-sects, i.e. Deobandi and Barelvi, named after their places of origin in India in the 19th century and because of abiding differences between them, these two sub-sects have built up walls of hatred and mistrust between them over time.

Historically, Tehreek-e-Souwtul Awliya was simply a response to the growing influence of Wahhabism/Salafism/Deobandism in South Asia. Ahmad Raza Khan defended traditional Sunni beliefs and practices and defended the Muslim culture, traditions and values of South Asian Muslims.

Ahmad Raza Khan was supported by many scholars of the Hejaz, Ottoman Empire, and Al-Azhar. He wrote many arguments against Wahhabism/Salafism/Deobandism in defense of Orthodox Sunni Islam.

He defended traditional Islamic understandings of Tawheed, roles and attributes of Prophets, Tawassul/Waseela, and Sunni Islamic methodology.

He made strong arguments in favour of Mawlid, Urs, visiting holy sites such as Kaaba or tombs of Awliya as a means of attaining blessings from God, and defending traditional Sunni beliefs such as Nur Muhammadiyya, Hazir o Nazir (Prophet’s (PBUH) ability to listen, witness and be present in multiple places even today which answers why Muslims address the Prophet (PBUH) directly in the present tense in prayer), universal knowledge of the holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) attained from God (Ilm e Ghaib), and the holy Prophet’s (PBUH) role as one who brings man to God (God guides through the Prophet (PBUH), so the guidance received from the Prophet (PBUH) is essentially guidance from God).

On the other hand, Theologically, the Deobandis uphold the doctrine of taqlid (conformity to legal precedent) and adhere to the Hanafi school. 

Founders of the Deobandi school Muhammad Qasim Nanautavi and Rashid Ahmad Gangohi drew inspiration from the religio-political doctrine of the Islamic scholar and mujaddid Shah Waliullah and most of the deobandi followers and some of them being influenced by the Wahhabi ideology.

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