This Article is From Sep 25, 2016

Controversial Texts, Mystery Funds: On The Trail Of Saudi-Style Islam In India

Shaikh Shabbir Ahmed Madani, the founder of Al Farooq group established in Uttar Pradesh.

Much is made of funds pouring in to promote Saudi-style Islam in India (known as Salafism or Wahhabism), and of its influence, but what is the ground reality?

The only source of tracking funds through the official route is the Home Ministry's Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

NDTV analysed FCRA data for the last 3 years to find how many Salafist NGO's have received funds, from Islamic charities. 

The figure works out to approximately about Rs 134 crores, a small fraction of the annual funds remitted through FCRA.
The biggest amount of funds have not come from Saudi Arabia, as is commonly believed.  United Arab Emirates is the highest, with Rs 51 crores, followed by the UK with Rs 36 crores. Rs 23 crores came from Kuwait and Canada gave Rs 10 crores.  Donations from Saudi Arabia in this period come to Rs 4.5 crores.

These figures do not explain the anecdotal evidence of Salafist mosques and madrassas in India.

In Delhi, at the head office of Ahl-e-Hadees, the pre-eminent Salafist organisation in India, we are told they have over 1,000 madrassas spread across the country. These are about 10 times the number of  Salafist NGOs listed in FCRA.
Ahle-e-Hadees members say the growth is through self funding, or local donations.  

But the executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management and South Asia Terrorism Portal that is based in Delhi, Ajai Sahni, suggests that some of the expansion may be linked to illicit money flows.

"There are overwhelmingly illegal transactions. Hawala, misrepresentation in the recent cases as far as the Zakir Naik case was concerned.There were many transactions through his media companies. So you will have a multiplicity of instrumentalities but there is absolutely no match." 

Salafists, however insist that there appeal lies in the purer version of Islam which they purport to teach, and that there is nothing of concern in their growing influence. 
But in a number of Salafist madrassas NDTV visited in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka (some of them FCRA-funded, others not), we found works of controversial Saudi Salafi scholars as part of their syllabi.

For instance, the 13th century preacher Ibn Taymiyyah, the author of an influential Mardin Fatwa,  commonly cited by jihadist groups across the world to justify violence.

"Terrorist organizations spread all around the world are based on Ibn Taymiyyah's principles and traditions, these terrorist organizations rely on references taken from Ibn Taymiyyah's books and particularly his Mardin Fatwa in which he has mentioned that one can kill anyone to achieve his target or defeat enemies or target anyone." said Dr Syed Ashraf Jaisi, head of department, Arabic Studies, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad.

Also on the syllabi of Salafi madrassas is Taymiyyah's successor Ibn Abd al-Wahhab who is said to have misread a Quranic verse to coin a divisive concept of 'Al Walah wal Bara'.  
Islamic studies scholar Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi explains, "It (the verse) actually means: Al wallah - loyalty with Muslims; and wal barra enmity against all non- Muslims. He refers to certain verses in the Quran, which say 'do not make friends with Jews and Christians'. These, however, have been taken out of context by Wahhab."  
Another book taught in Salafi madrassas is by an Indian cleric Ismail Dehalvi called Taqwiyatul Iman, or strength of religion, which denounces India's Sufi tradition as un-Islamic.

When NDTV spoke to heads of Salafi mosques, strong support in favour of these books and against Sufi practices was echoed from the two states.

"The condition is such that people don't have time to go their parents' graves and instead travel to Ajmer Sharif, that is completely wrong and should not be done," said Abdul Wahid Madni, founder, Safa Educational Society, Domariaganj, Uttar Pradesh. "Wrong things if done for 1,000s of years are wrong," he added.  

While it may be unjustified to link Salafist teachings with extremism, Sufi clerics worry about the impact of growing Wahhabism on a more accommodative form of Islam practised in India.  

"Just imagine, (the sufi saint) Nizamuddin Auliya was given a sword and he said what do I need this for? I need a sewing pin, so that I can sew. I'm a person who joins things, not tears them apart," said Syed Babar Ashraf, founder, Sufi Voice of India, Lucknow.