Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Just few weeks back, more precisely on January 11, 2019, head of pro-Caliphate Hefazat e Islam, Shah Ahmed Shafi, a 95-year-old radical Islamist, who also runs a madrassa named Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam madrasa in Chattogram district, during a gathering of pro-Caliphate Hefazat-e-Islam (HEI) had asked the guardians to refrain from sending their children to schools and colleges. He said parents may let their daughters study up to grade five so that the girls can keep a tab on their husband’s finances and write letters to their husband.
Hefazat kingpin Shafi said, “Don’t send your daughters to school, college. You may let them study up to grade four or five so that they can keep track of their husband’s money and write letters to their husband.”
He further said, “But if you let your daughter study a lot, she will not be your daughter any more after some days. Someone else will take her away as you’ve seen in newspaper reports what happens to the girls who study grades [higher than grade V].”
He then made the audience make the promise of growing beard, forcing girls and women to put on hijad, niqab and burqa etc.
There was no action either from the Bangladesh government or from the women rights groups on such audacious remarks of the kingpin of HEI.
But now, the same man and his group, by forming a nexus of Caliphate-monger and radical Islamic parties seems to be all prepared in resuming cruelties, persecution and numerous forms of evil actions on the Ahmadiyas. According to information, Ahmadiyya community in Bangladesh has decided to hold an Izteema (religious congregation) in Panchagarh district, which has already come under extreme opposition from the pro-Caliphate group named Hefazat e Islam (HeI) which consists of thousands of madrassa teachers and students. Executive editor of madrassa mouthpiece named monthly Moinul, Sarwar Kamal has circulated a statement from HeI kingpin Ahmad Shafi stating, “Deniers of Khatmey Nabuwat (last prophecy), feet-licking slave of the British, nefarious enemy of the Muslim ummah, Golam Mohammad Kadiani had denied acknowledging Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) as the last prophet. He [Golam Mohammad Kadiani] proclaimed false prophethood with the agenda of deceiving Muslims, being a lapdog of the British. Golam Mohammad was the agent of those British imperialist traders who had ruled Indian subcontinent for 190 years, and had falsely proclaimed himself as the prophet and had participated in anti-Islam propaganda”.
Ahmad Shafi has also called upon Bangladesh government to “immediately declare Ahmadiyyas” as “non-Muslims” and has asked the government to stop the Ahmadiyya religious congregation in Panchagarh district [in Bangladesh].
He said, “Despite the fact of being non-Muslims, Qadiyanis are claiming themselves as Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat and has been booting the world’s prophet [prophet of Islam]. If such things are not stopped forthwith, Hefazat e Islam by joining ‘Khatmey Nabuwat Movement’ will go into massive anti-Ahmadiyya movement in Bangladesh. Ahmadiyyas should be declared non-Muslims and their naked exposition of audacity [against Islam] should be immediately stopped. Otherwise, any conspiracy will be foiled by the hundreds of millions of Towheedi Janata [masses of faith]”.
It may be mentioned here that, in 2005, the then government in Bangladesh had imposed ban on religious publications of the Ahmadiyas, which had not been lifted by the subsequent governments despite international outcry. Most importantly, while a several leaders of HEI were directly connected to Al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS), few of those anti-Ahmadiya groups such as Ahley Hadith were already proved to have connections with Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB), a notorious jihadist outfit and other militancy groups. Since 2016, JMB has merged with Al Qaeda in Indian Sub Continent and rebranded the group as Ansar-al-Islam, with the ulterior agenda of continuing jihadist activities within the Indian subcontinent.
The most disturbing fact is – few months back, leaders of Hefazat-e-Islam were invited by the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence. Following this sudden hosting of the radical Islamists, the government very abruptly had recognized degrees of the Qawmi madrassas thus giving it same status to general education certificates. This was a clear signal of ruling party’s willingness of letting those notoriously radicalized madrassa teachers and students join civil-military jobs. In other words, it was the beginning of letting the radical Islamists infiltrate within Bangladesh’s civil-military administration.
It may be further mentioned here that, at the demand of Hefazat-E-Islam, ruling party in Bangladesh had removed the sculpture of Lady Justice from the compound of Bangladesh Supreme Court. Following this removal, HEI bigwigs have pressed forward another demand of removing all sorts of sculptures and statues from the “soil of Bangladesh”.
Evidently, it is proved beyond doubt, the ruling party in Bangladesh is deepening its relations with radical Islamic parties and groups with the goal of getting the Islamist vote bank in its favour. In other words, once again, the dirty card of religion is being played into politics in the country.
Hefazat-E-Islam’r kingpin Ahmad Shafi’s statement against the Ahmadiyas is not a minor issue. Instead, it rings the alarm of the disturbing rise of radical Islamic elements inside Bangladesh.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of Blitz. Twitter: @Salah_Shoaib