ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Call for Interfaith Unity

Kaumi Ek Jayate

A report on an ecumenical event held in Kanpur that was organised by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind .

While the political discourse in North India in recent times has been resonant with the rhetorics of ghar wapsi, “love jihad” and hate speeches, an ecumenical event took place in Kanpur on 15 March 2015. This was one of the events that are periodically organised by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind1 in different parts of India. To counter the shrill activism that divides the religious communities, the Kaumi Ek Jayate (translated as “dialogue for unity of religious communities”) was organised at Parade Ground in Kanpur. One of the members explained that two types of conferences are generally organised by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind from time to time. While one is tamaam or open to everybody, the other one—khaas—is for a select group.2 The conference held in March was of the former type where the representatives of different religious communities were invited by the All India Aqalyati Board of Kanpur. This board has representatives of the Buddhist, Sikh, Christian, Muslim and the Hindu communities of Kanpur. It was set up three years ago to address the issue of communal harmony between the diverse religious groups in the city. We were told that currently it organises inter-religious meets whenever a rift between two or more religious groups is perceived.

Around 20 hoardings announcing the event both in Hindi and Urdu were put up across the city ahead of the event. These were mostly displayed in the Muslim-dominated areas as Parade, Bara Chauraha and Ghantaghar. The dignitaries of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Maulana Arshad Madani representing the All India sadr, Abdul Quddus Sahab from the Jamiat’s Kanpur sadr and its general secretary, Maulana Abdul Alim Farooq inaugurated the conference.3 The chief guest of the event was Mufti Manzoor Ahmad Mazahiri. He is the registered qazi of Kanpur. From the late 19th century onwards, the state government used to appoint an Islamic scholar chosen from among and by the community of each city/town with a sizeable Muslim population as qazi of the respective place.4 The office of the incumbent would thereafter be registered with the government. Presently the government no longer ratifies the office. Mufti Manzoor urged that religious harmony should be restored and fellow-feeling (bhaichara) be inculcated in the believers of different faiths. In his speech he stated:

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