Shamsudheen Palath, a 45-year-old Salafi preacher, has recently changed his name to Shamsudheen Fareed as he thought his father’s name was more Islamic than Palath, the name of his native village in Kozhikode.
He is the unofficial spokesperson of the outift, known as ‘extreme Salafis’. The outfit is suspected to have played a major role in radicalising Muslims in Kerala.
He refuses to be photographed, and believes that watching movies is haram, never trims his beard and asks Muslims not to participate in festivals of non-Muslims. Shamsudheen, who was a school teacher in Malappuram, represents the transformation that has happened to the Salafi movement in Kerala, once the driving force of reformation in the Muslim community in the state.
“Many Muslim organisations in the state are afraid of presenting the correct Islam, fearing that it may not be palatable to mainstream society. They are apologetic about many things in Islam. We have no problem in upholding Islam even if society frowns at it,” says Shamsudheen.
“We don’t participate in festivals like Onam and Christmas because they have the elements of shirk (polytheism). You may say that Onam is a harvest festival but at the core there is a Hindu myth. Similarly, believing that Allah had a child in the form of Christ is the most abhorrent belief in Islam,” Shamsudheen said.
Shamsudheen denies his outfit has anything to do with the missing youth of Malabar, though he is not perturbed in acknowledging they may have been ideologically influenced by teachings similar to his.