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

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Between Dialogue and Conflict

Deendar Anjuman, 1920s-2000

Focusing on the Deendar Anjuman's peculiar doctrinal positions that makes it distinct from other Muslim groups, this article traces its origins and development in early 20th century south India and examines the ways it has sought to position itself vis-a-vis other groups, Muslim as well as Hindu, in the contemporary Indian context of religious pluralism.

In early May this year the governmentof India declared a hitherto little knownreligious group, the Deendar Anjuman,as a banned organisation. It claimed thatthe Anjuman had been involved in a seriesof bomb attacks on places of worship,including churches, a temple and a mosque,between May and July 2000 in differenttowns in southern India. The alleged involvementof the Anjuman in the attacksreceived considerable focus in the Indianmedia. Many Indian papers as well asgovernment officers went so far as to claimthat the alleged involvement of the Deendar Anjuman in the incidents was part of alarger Pakistani ‘plot’ engineered by itssecret service, the Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI), to instigate Hindu-Christianconflict and, thereby, further ‘destabilise’the country. Predictably, leaders of theDeendar Anjuman based at the group’sheadquarters in Hyderabad strongly rebuttedthe allegations levelled against them.

The acting president of the Anjuman, the80-year-old Maulana Muhammad Usman‘Ali Mallana, declared that his organisation‘strongly condemned any such activity thatwould hurt the religious sensibilities ofpeople’ and offered to cooperate with thepolice in tracking down the attackers. Hewent on to add that the Anjuman firmly‘believes in peace, brotherhood, tranquillity,tolerance and communal harmonyamong the followers of various religions’,and that it had full respect for the law ofthe land and the Indian Constitution. Heclaimed that the Anjuman was itself setup for the purpose of promoting brotherhood,unity and understanding betweenpeople of various different faiths, and thatthis it had always been doing, using strictlypeaceful means such as organising interreligiousdialogue conferences. Given thishistory of the sect, Mallana claimed thatthe members of the Deendar Anjuman ‘are the last persons to preach hatred or intolerance’(Syed Amin Jafri, ‘Sect DeniesHand in Bomb Blasts’,

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