Something good is happening to the Muslim world. A man with half-Muslim parentage will soon take oath as the President of United States. Recently, a number of Muslim scholars, activists and clerics got together and issued a fatwa delinking Islam from terror. An 18-coach train, aptly named Sheikh-ul-Hind Express, set off from Deoband carrying 2,000 clerics. They were going with a message of peace and integration to Hyderabad where some 6,000 clerics from 21 states of India congregated to issue consensus edicts against terrorism. Shaking off the previous mode of shock and denial, the Indian Muslim community has entered a phase of introspection and redefinition. This collective body of Muslim clerics took another commendable step by denouncing televangelist Zakir Naik's speeches, demanding a ban on him. Popular Muslim resentment against Naik became evident last December when he used the phrase 'May God be pleased with him' for Yezid, the debauch ruler of Ummayed and murderer of Imam Hussain. Throughout Islamic history, these words have been used only for the Prophet's trusted companions. I have been particularly disturbed by the growing popularity of Mr. Naik, the founder of Peace TV and president of the Islamic Research Foundation. I don't consider Mr. Naik to be an Islamic scholar per se. He can best be described as a preacher with computer-like memory of almost all religious scriptures including the Bible, Torah, Vedas and Quran. Naik loves to debate with Hindus on the Vedas, with Jains about vegetarianism and atheists on religion and science. In the garb of inter-faith dialogues, he not only runs down all major religions, but also rubbishes as haraam (sinful) all Muslim devotional aspects that differ from his viewpoint. In the subcontinent, Islam is a legacy of the Sufis who gave us traditions of syncretism and communal harmony. By condemning followers of Sufism as 'grave-worshippers', the 'scholars' of Salafi and Wahabi ideology like Naik reject an entire historical body of Islamic scholarship, jurisprudence and almost 80 per cent of Islamic literature. Dialogue within the Muslim community on what form the rightful Islamic traditions should take had long been overdue. Thankfully, Muslims are now alert to need of the times, identifying and rejecting intolerant elements within them. -SADIA DEHLVI, Delhi, India, November 11.