In 1930 (1349 AH), Imam al-‘Asr Mawlana Anwar Shah Kashmiri and Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani (may Allah have mercy on them), both senior lecturers at Jami’ah Islamiah, Dabhel (India), were invited to Rangoon, Burma, with the objective of benefiting the Muslim community there with their blessed presence and lectures. Unfortunately, Ismail Nurullah Ihdal Nizami, a resident of Rangoon, started a malicious campaign against the scholars of Deoband, with nothing more than the decrepit, recurring allegations which had already been satisfactorily answered numerous times. The sole objective was to incite laypeople against these visiting scholars in particular, and on a broader level, all who aligned themselves with these scholars in terms of learning and methodology.
To the disappointment of Nizami, the proposed trip of these scholars, “who are travelling everywhere to steal your iman” as Nizami claimed, was not hindered in any way, and thus he was compelled to resort to further maligning and scaremongering. Each step of Nizami’s spree was perceived by him to be the final nail in the coffin against these scholars and their supporters, but if anything, all his attempts produced the reverse of what he was so desperately trying to achieve.
When Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani (may Allah have mercy on him) was notified of Nizami’s challenging them to debate a Mawlana Hashmat ‘Ali Lukhnawi, he said in his final lecture in Rangoon:
I have not come here to turn Rangoon into a battlefield, so that people fight and kill one another and their mutual connections are severed forever; I have come here to enjoin good and forbid evil.
Eventually, after everything else failed, Mawlana Hashmat ‘Ali Lukhnawi was brought to Rangoon shortly after the departure of Mawlana Anwar Shah Kashmiri and Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani, and began to malign the scholars of Deoband in his public lectures. Through his rancid speeches against the “Wahhabi” scholars of Deoband, he ignited and stoked the ugly fire of polemical warfare in Rangoon, pushing some gullible Muslims to the brink of aggression and violence against others.
It was at this point that the Anjuman Shubban al-Muslimeen, a prominent organisation in Rangoon, felt the need to calm the rising tension and published a heartfelt plea to Mawlana Hashmat ‘Ali which we are reproducing hereunder.
Fast forward almost a century, the message which the Anjuman Shubban al-Muslimeen were compelled to publish in the Far East is entirely relevant in the West. The Nizamis of today relish the furore their divisive statements make and the fame, or notieriety, that lie in its wake. The added dynamic in today’s era, however, is the powerfully destructive force social media and the internet play in amplifying such matters and creating a distasteful situation that spirals out of control.
The message of Anjuman Shubban al-Muslimeen is, undoubtedly, the sentiment of most Muslims today, who have no concern for pointless, chauvinistic debates, and it resonates with countless people who are sick and tired of individuals who love to plant the seed of discord wherever they set foot.
As for those who express a desire to build bridges but then burn them at the same time, we hope the following words of Allah Most High will prompt some serious introspection and make them see, as others do, how incongruous their claims and actions really are:
And do not be like she who untwisted her spun thread after it was strong (Qur’an, 16:92).
Hereunder is the message of the Anjuman. May Allah guide us all. Amin.
We, the youth of Rangoon, on hearing the titles of your talks and lectures, thought that you have most probably come to Burma, like other scholars of Islam, to fulfil the duty of spreading Islam and to engender cohesion and unity amongst the Muslims. This is why we attended your lectures with great keenness. However, after hearing your lectures, we are very sad to say that you are causing disunity and strife amongst the Muslims of Burma, as opposed to cohesion and unity. There is nothing in your lectures besides calling Muslims disbelievers and disparaging a large body of Muslim scholars.
We have frequently heard the talks of these scholars against whom you have alleged many things, but they have never related such nonsense in their talks or conferences, be they general or specific. There are many students of these scholars in Rangoon and they have been here for a long time, but we have never heard them utter that which you accuse them of. If they really believed what you claim about them, they would have surely mentioned them at some point. Whatever a person believes comes to his tongue. For this reason, we are not willing to accept at all that their beliefs are in any way against the Qur’an, hadiths and the Hanafi school.
We have also seen their books which you quote in public and we have enquired from scholars about their meaning too. We came to know that they do not mean what you falsely allege on your own part and then present to laymen.
Thus, we want to bring to your attention that Muslims are currently in need of becoming organised and united. It is only down to this obscene disunity that we are extremely weak and disgraced in the eyes of other nations.
We cannot bear to witness for much longer this approach of yours, which has caused great strife amongst the Muslims who were united just a few days ago. We request you, for the sake of Allah, not to create disunity and discord amongst the Muslims, but to rather work towards uniting them, just as the scholars of Islam have being doing till now. Explain the excellence of Islam to the non-Muslims, bringing them towards Islam and increasing the strength of the Muslims thereby. Do not declare Muslims disbelievers, and as a result, increase the number of non-Muslims.
The Youth of Jam’iyyat Shubban al-Muslimeen, Rangoon
Published by Sher Press, 257 Spark Street, Rangoon.”