Dr Tahirul Qadri, the Islamic scholar of Sufi mould, who was seeking the removal of the PPP government in Pakistan this week has a vast presence in India through CDs, DVDs and books. Minhajul Quran International India, the Indian chapter of his Tehrik-e-Minhajul Quran, is spread over states such as Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, etc, and distributes his works through city-wise committees.
The MQII, which was established in the mid-1990s to promote Quranic studies, social welfare and education among Muslims, was registered as a charitable trust in Vadodara in Gujarat in 2010.
MQII president Nadi Ali Syed said that the outfit has around 80-90 centres all over India to distribute Qadri's work. "In Gujarat alone, we have branches in 15 cities."
MQII's Hyderabad branch publishes the organisation's mouthpiece Al-Hidaya in Urdu. The English version of the magazine is published from the United Kingdom.
According to some Muslim scholars and students who follows Qadri's discourses, the cleric's likeability lies in the fact that he propagates the moderate form of Islam and has challenged the existing extreme sects on the subcontinent with "powerful academic arguments".
Qadri's recent book, Fatwa on Terrorism, emphasising on jihad-e-akbar (cleansing within) to counter jihad was a major hit.
But there are also those who doubt Qadri's standing as a scholar. Mufti Mohammed Mukarram, the Imam of the famous Fatehpuri mosque in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, said that though Qadri is a fantastic scholar, but he also mixes his own opinion while elaborating on Islamic jurisprudence.
Newspaper columnists such as Feroze Bakht Ahmed label Qadri as a godman: "Though he is a very good scholar and has a clean personality, but he is a godman like all other godmen. I don't think he has a major following in India."