Lucknow, Aug 22 (IANS) Prominent Maulanas and Islamic scholars of Uttar Pradesh have reacted strongly to Delhi's Shahi Imam Ahmed Bukhari's appeal to Muslims to keep off Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign because his supporters were raising chants of "Vande Mataram".
Leading Sunni cleric Maulana Abul Irfan Mian Firangi Mahli and well known Shia scholar and cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawaad said that since Hazare was not forcing Vande Mataram on anyone, there was nothing wrong if Muslims joined the campaign launched by the social activist.
"The issue is not about Vande Mataram but corruption. I see absolutely no reason why Muslims should be dissuaded from joining this campaign when we all know how corruption is eating into our system and making the lives of people miserable," Maulana Firangi Mahli said.
He added: "After all this slogan of Vande Mataram was widely used by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom movement in which so many Muslims stood by him and remained part of the struggle."
"The time is now ripe to exhort the youth of this country to rise up in arms against corruption. The best way to do so could be by ensuring that the corrupt are not voted to power.
"That could be done by ensuring that Muslims just do not support any candidate who spends tonnes of money in his campaign. We must remember that anyone using money power in his election was bound to recover the same by illegal means no sooner that he gets elected."
Maulana Kalbe Jawaad said: "While we do not subscribe to chanting of Vande Mataram which goes against the spirit of Islam, we have to join this great battle against corruption.
"After all Anna is not forcing anyone to chant Vande Mataram. So while others recite Vande Mataram, Muslims can call out 'Allah-o-Akbar' or just remain quiet. Yet they can continue to be a part of the anti-corruption movement that has gained so much momentum."
Referring to reports that Hazare was supported by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), he said: "If some are trying to create this confusion, then it would be pertinent for Anna to remove these doubts."
He added: "As far as I am concerned, I am convinced that Anna has taken up the right cause and Muslims must stand up in his support with full force."