Salafi radicals in clash with ministry of awqaf in Kuwait over Bohra mosque project

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Subject: Three articles: Kuwait freezes Bohra mosque project. Bohras accused of following unislamic belief system by Sheikh Mohammad Al-Hamoud. Kuwait Times

Few small sects & groups of Islam such as Bohras, Aghakhani, etc keep themselves isolated from other Muslims at large. They do not allow other Muslims to come and pray in their mosques or Jamatkhanas. Many years back an Afghan family living in neighborhood of a Bohra mosque in La Puente, Los Angeles, USA, started joining prayers. Bohras were shocked and amused. No body welcomed them or talked to them. After few days, somehow they were told not come. They stopped. My contention is, if any group of Islam thinks it is on right path, it should invite outsiders to join them. The word Dawat is for inviting others to join the right path. Why then others are not welcomed. I think if we name any building a mosque, all Muslims should be free to come and worship.

Bohras and many other sects also prohibit marrying out side their circle, unless the other party converts. They do not consider a marriage solomonized by a cleric, other than Bohra, valid. Bohra clerics emphasize, if a Bohra’s burial ceremony is solemnized by non-Bohras, the dead will be denied entrance to heaven because prophet will be displeased because the Bohra Dai (the high priest) was displeased.

Kuwait Times
Bohras: Sunni perspective
October 17, 2007
By Ahmad Al-Khaled, Staff Writer

KUWAIT: Sunni cleric Sheikh Mohammad Al-Hamoud, who is a member of the Jamiyat Ahiya Al-Torath, a local Salafist organization, spoke to Kuwait Times about the Bohra religion and some of the practices which separate it from the mainstream Muslim community.

Last week, the Municipality denied a request made by the government on behalf of local Bohras, who number somewhere between 25,000 to 50,000, to be allocated government land to build a house of worship. The request to build a Bohra place of worship raised a controversy, with Islamists arguing that the request should be denied based on the fact that no Kuwaiti nationals were members of the Bohra sect as well as the fact that residents in Ardiya opposed the building in their area. The unspoken reason for the opposition was more than likely based on the fact that local Muslims do not believe Bohras to be a legitimate sect of Islam. Bohras (which is linguistically traced to the Gujarati word meaning 'to trade') have roots in Gujarat, India where they were converts to Ismaili Shiism. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, they broke from the branch following the Fatimi Tayyibi dawah of Yemen. They then broke into several offshoots on multiple occasions and came to be known as Aliyah Bohras, Dawoodi Bohras, Jafari Bohras and Sulaymani Bohra among others.

Bohras believe in seven pillars of their religion and not the five pillars of Islam which are mentioned in the Holy Quran. The first and most important of their seven pillars is that of walayah, which is love and devotion for Allah, the Prophets, the Imam, and the da'i.

Sunni Muslims do not believe in the worship of any God but Allah and do not call on followers to devote themselves to anyone but Allah. Sheikh Mohammad said the group has historically brought with it "a lot of movement that has harmed Islam in the past and present". "The Ismailia sect, which Muslim scholars believe is a sect which has strayed, believe in an imam who is without sin," he said. This belief is contrary to the belief of Sunni Muslims that only the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sinless. "They believe the imam is a descendant of Imam Ismail bin Jaafar," he added.

Notably, the current da'i or leader of the Dawoodi Bohras, Sayyedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, is 52nd in a long line of da'i mutlaqs which can be translated to 'absolute preacher or summoner'. He is revered for his supposed ancestry and position which is contrary to Sunni beliefs, which do not allow religious reverence for anyone but Allah.

Sheikh Mohammad stated that the Bohras believe, "Whomever does not know the Imam of his time will die as a non-believer and non-Muslim." This belief flies in the face of Sunni Muslim beliefs which do not require reverence for imams or any religious heads as a prerequisite for being a Muslim. "They do not pray in Sunni or Shiite mosques (because) either they do not believe we are Muslims or they do not believe these are legal mosques," the cleric said.

Notably, among differences in Islam and Bohra beliefs is their belief in reincarnation. On Bohra beliefs on reincarnation, Sheikh Mohammad said, "If someone is righteous and he dies, Bohras believes his spirit will live on in another person." As to the possibility of Bohra building a place of worship in Kuwait, Sheikh Mohammad summed up the issue stating: "If these are their beliefs, then we should not help them build a temple because this is opposite to Islam and there are fatwas forbidding this." Specifically, he noted that a fatwa was issued by a religious committee in Saudi Arabia. "Their belief is a mixture of philosophy, interpretations, and Shiite practices," he said.

Huthayif Yusef, a spokesman of the local Bohra community, refused to comment on any of the topics discussed in this article.


Headline News
Kuwait Times
Islamists step up drive against Bohra mosque
October 17, 2007
By B Izzak, Staff Writer

KUWAIT: Islamist MPs and activists yesterday continued their campaign against government plans to build a mosque for the Bohra community in the country as another minister came under fire. A day after Salafist MP Waleed Al-Tabtabae threatened to quiz Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Abdullah Al-Maatouq over making the request to build the mosque, another Islamist MP yesterday threatened to grill Minister of Public Works and Municipality Affairs Mousa Al-Sarraf.

MP Khudair Al-Enezi, a member of the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) or Muslim Brotherhood, warned that Sarraf will be questioned if he approves a plan to build the mosque. The technical committee of the municipality last week rejected the Awqaf ministry's request for the mosque but Sarraf later kept the door open for a fresh attempt to get the request approved. Maatouq explained that his ministry made the request for the allocation of government land for the proposed mosque on behalf of the government, which recently adopted a decision in this regard.

A hardline Salafist group meanwhile launched the strongest attack yet on the Bohras, describing them as not Muslims. The Ummah Principles Alliance said in a statement yesterday that Bohras were in fact enemies of Islam who do not believe in the main principles of the religion. Liberals led by the Kuwait Human Rights Association meanwhile came to the defense of Bohras, saying they are a recognized sect of Islam and they should be allowed to freely practice their religious rites.

The association also said that Bohras in some Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have their own mosques. The association also appealed to the prime minister to intervene and allow Bohras to build their mosque.

Awqaf freezes Bohra mosque project after furore
Published Date: October 22, 2007
By A Saleh and B Izzak, Staff Writer

KUWAIT: The government yesterday succeeded in defusing a fierce confrontation with lawmakers today after the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs asked the Municipality to freeze its earlier request to allocate a plot of land for Bohras in Kuwait to build a mosque until proper measures have been set to regulate the matter.

According to informed sources, Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Abdullah Al-Maatouq, who has been threatened with a grilling over the issue, called the Chairman of the Municipality Abdurrahman Al-Humaidan and requested that the topic be excluded from the Cabinet's agenda until further notice and that a formal letter on the same issue be circulated.

The 16-member Cabinet was to vote yesterday on a recommendation by its technical committee two weeks ago to reject a request by Maatouq for the Cabinet to allocate 6,500 sq m of government land in Ardhiya for the Bohra mosque. Maatouq, who has been under fire since then, has said that he submitted the request on behalf of the Cabinet, which approved the Bohra mosque.

Islamist MPs earlier yesterday had issued a stern warning to the government on the eve of decisive vote by the Municipal Council on allowing the Bohra community to build a mosque on government land. Islamist MP Faisal Al-Muslim earlier said the government and the Ministry of Awqaf must withdraw the request and the initial approval otherwise MPs will exercise their duty without sparing the awqaf minister from responsibility. Muslim said the government has created a crisis out of nothing by handling the issue the way it did. The lawmaker said that there are hundreds of mosques in the country and are open to all Muslims for worship.

Opening a special mosque for the Bohras will "land us in a major problem because dozens of similar communities will make similar demands", he said. Muslim called on members of the municipality to insist on rejecting the request by approving the technical committee recommendation.

Another Islamist MP Jaber Al-Muhailbi said that opening a mosque for the Bohras in Kuwait clearly violates the country's laws, adding that the government should close the door for those trying to create a crisis in Kuwait. MP Hussein Muzyed warned Municipality Affairs Minister Mousa Al-Sarraf of interfering in the internal affairs of the municipality and trying to negate its decisions by the Cabinet. Muzyed warned that Sarraf will be grilled if he took any action against the municipality's resolutions.

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