|Sufi leaders seen at the stage in Moradabad|
AIUMB that chiefly comprises Barelvis, who follow the liberal Sufi tradition in the sub-continent, rued the disproportionate influence wielded by the Wahabi sect in the country.
Maulana Mahmood Ashraf Kachhochhvi, representing the famous Sufi shrine at Kachhauchha Sharif, was the main speaker at the event held in Western UP's Moradabad.
Addressing a large gathering of Muslims, the Sufi leaders lamented that though the Deobandi sect was barely a century old, it had greater influence on policy makers and politicians due to its institutions that include Nadwatul Uloom, Lucknow and Darul Uloom Deoband.
The emergence of the Board is also being linked to the forthcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Barelwis form an overwhelming majority of Muslims in India, particularly, in North Indian states and more so in the country side.
Surprisingly, speakers hinted that Saudi money was the cause for Wahabi ideology flourishing in India.
Concern was also expressed over the fact that politicians lent more ear to Deobandi Ulema and the particular school of thought (Deobandis)always got more attention in media.
AIUMB leaders affirmed that 80% Indian Muslims belonged to the tolerant Sufi tradition and in turn close to Barelvis (Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat) unlike Deobandis. The extremism linked with Muslims was also termed as a Deobandi influence on moderate Islamic teachings in India.
The Mashaikh Board has the blessings of important Sufi dargahs in India apart from representatives of the prominent Islamic Khanqahs in the country. Issues of madarsa modernisation, police firing in Rudrapur, communal riots in different parts of the country, staged fake encounters, reservation for Muslims in jobs in accordance with their numerical strength in the population and protection of Waqf properties came up for discussion at the 'maha-panchayat'.
Syed Mahmood Ashraf Kichhouchhawi is the president of the AIUMB. However, Mohammad Ashraf is the general secretary. The Sajjada Nashins or heads of the dargahs and Imams attended the programme. More such conferences would be held in different regions in the state and outside, said organisers.