“If there's anything lacking today, its communal harmony,” the group feels

Hyderabad Muslim group asks Muslims not to slaughter cows gets accused of being close to BJPAll images by arrangement
news Sunday, September 20, 2015 - 10:43

A group of Muslims in an area of Hyderabad have received both brickbats and bouquets for seeking to convince Muslims to desist from slaughtering cows during Eid.

Going by the name of Arab Gourakshana Samithi (AGS), a group of Muslims from the Barkas area of Hyderabad are trying to convince residents of their locality to give up slaughtering cows ahead of Bakrid and Eid-ul-Azha in a bid to foster harmony between Hindus and Muslims.

Barkas is a suburban neighbourhood in the Old City and is renowned for its stalls and markets that sell bovine meat. But the suburb and its people have a unique history, which they trace back to a number of Arab tribes in Yemen. AGS claims that around 200 people from over 25 tribes have joined their cause.

AGS members stop people transporting bovine animals and ask them to return the cows to the sellers, failing which they inform the police.

According to the Andhra Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter and Animal Preservation Act 1977, slaughter of cows is prohibited, but not that of other bovine animals as long as they meet certain conditions. A ‘fit for slaughter’ certificate from a veterinarian is required, as also a police permit.

Every year, hundreds of bulls and bullocks are brought to the city for sacrifice on Eid day. Such animals are in huge demand because seven people can share one animal. At Rs.2,500 to Rs.2,800 each share, this works out more economical than Rs.6,000 to Rs.7,000 for a goat or sheep.

“We are working towards building a spirit of brotherhood among Hindus and Muslims. No nation can survive if there is a trust deficit between communities. The Hindus revere the cow and there is no harm if Muslims respect their sentiments,” Abdullah Bin Ali Bahameid, president of AGS and a lawyer by profession told TOI.



Bahameid told TV 9 Telugu that Muslims must stop eating cow meat. “This will calm communal tensions and Hindus and Mulsims can respect each other.”

To make this claim, the AGS seeks to derive its legitimacy from religious texts. But instead of the Quran, its members cite the Hadith, which they claim records the Prophet as saying that consumption of beef is bad for health.

A Hadith is second only to the Quran in terms of religious significance and contains verses that Prophet Mohammed is said to have spoken.

“If there's anything lacking today, its communal harmony, which has reached a dangerous line,” Bahameid told The News Minute.

BJP stooge?

While a section of Islamic scholars too has taken up a similar campaign, many have alleged that AGS is backed by the RSS and the BJP. They have accused the group of having close ties with BJP Goshamahal legislator T Raja Singh, who is known for hate speech and for being against cow slaughter.

Bahameid said that all these allegations were “baseless”, false” and “nonsense”. He went on to add: “In what capacity are these people spreading these rumours? I challenge them to prove these allegations. I'm an advocate myself and I'm ready to fight my case… (I am a) common man of the country and an Indian Muslim who believes in one God. We must respect each other’s religions, only then can everyone live in peace.”

A south India movement

A group of Islamic scholars across south India have also appealed to Muslims to avoid sacrificing cows, bulls and bullocks in the community's larger interest.

Headed by Islamic scholar Syed Hussain Madani, the group has taken up the campaign through social media, meetings, pamphlets and on Friday, sermons in mosques in different states of southern India.

“Our message is that Muslims should not take law in their hands but desist from sacrificing cow, bulls and bullocks for maintaining peace. This will also help in introducing Islam to others,” Madani told IANS.

Madani quoted another 'Hadith', that said "There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm."

Noting that the Prophet sacrificed two sheep on Eid-ul-Azha, he said: "Since the Prophet Muhammad is the best model for us, we should follow him. Sacrificing cow is allowed but it is not ‘afzal’ (preferable)," he said.

The ulema, while agreeing that the slaughter of cow, bulls and bullocks are linked to the livelihood of a group, argue that the interest of the entire community should get priority. They also drew a distinction between ‘sunnat’, meaning practice of the Prophet and ‘farz’ which mean obligation.

Well-known personalities like Mohammed Abdul Raheem Qureshi, president of the Majlis-e-Tameer-e-Millat and assistant secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Moulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, Moulana Aneesur Rehman Azmi of Chennai, Moulana Mufti Nassem Ahmed Ashrafi, and Moulana Mufti Mahboob Shareef Nizami are backing the initiative.

The appeal also has the backing of Muslim political leaders and legal experts.

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