Samastha demurs, Muslim League backs off from using the mosque pulpit against the LDF government

Sayyid Muhammad Jifri Muthukkoya Thangal

Kozhikode: The Samastha president seems to have pulled the plug on Indian Union Muslim League's political adventurism.

Muslim groups led by the League was about to use Friday prayers in mosques on December 3 to mount a massive campaign against the LDF government for handing over the recruitment process to the Waqf Board to the PSC, but Sayyid Muhammad Jifri Muthukkoya Thangal has firmly put his foot down.

"There should be no protests inside mosques. It would be dangerous. Anything that would sully the sanctity of a mosque should not be allowed to happen. At the moment, there is no need for such a political discourse inside mosques," Jifri Thangal said, while inaugurating the Waqf Muthuvally Meet in Kozhikode on Thursday.

Samastha Kerala Jem'iyyathul Ulema, which Jifri Thangal heads, is the largest Muslim organisation. It has also traditionally backed the Muslim League and the UDF.

Significantly, it was a day ago on December 1 that the Core Committee of Muslim organiations, including Samastha, had decided to use Friday prayers in mosques as an occasion to counter the LDF government's move to hand over Waqf appointments to the PSC. After the meeting, the core committee leaders had also said that the decision was taken in the strong conviction that this would not lead to the misuse of mosques for political ends.

On his part, Jifri Thangal sought to play down the presence of a Samastha representative at the Core Committee meeting. "Our representative was there. But we were told about the decision much later," he said. When asked whether Samastha was consulted before the decision was taken, he said: "This is something you should be asking them."

Samastha's quick change of heart looks to have been prompted by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's timely offer of a dialogue. "The Chief Minister had called me up today on the issue. He talked in a fair manner and said he was willing to talk if Samastha had any misgivings about the government's decision. I told him I will get back to him after careful consideration," Jifri Thangal said.

Till then, he said even the protests planned at the panchayat level on December 7 would be put on hold. Muslim League's Malappuram district secretary Panakkad Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal also said that the League would stand by Samastha's decision. Had the Muslim organisations gone ahead with their plan, there were fears that it would have created tension, and even violence, inside mosques.

The Chief Minister's emissary, Ealamaram Kareem, had also got in touch with Samastha general secretary Alikutty Musaliar. "We want the government to resolve this issue. If not, Samastha will be at the forefront of any kind of agitation," Jifri Thangal said.

The CPM, too, had warned of consequences. The CPM State Secretariat issued a statement on December 1 saying the Core Committee decision was like playing with fire. "The faithful will never endorse this attempt to use places of worship for political gains. Among the faithful who visit mosques for prayers are followers of all political parties. So the faithful themselves will be the first to question if the pulpit is used to criticise the government," the CPM statement said.

It said that the League had attempted to use mosques as political platforms earlier, too. "In all these instances, the faithful had led the resistance," the statement said.

Nonetheless, Thangal was critical of Waqf minister V Abdurahman. "The minister said he would implement the Waqf Act come what may. That was arrogance," he said.

The minister but kept up his aggressive stand. "The government's only intention was to protect Waqf properties. Waqf properties worth crores of rupees have been lost. The objective is to retrieve what was lost," he said, justifying the controversial act - the Kerala PSC (Additional Functions As Respects the Services Under the Waqf Board) Act, 2021 - which was passed in the Assembly during the just-concluded session.

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