Unimaginable, isn't it? Maulan Ashraf Ali Thanvi was passing by rural part of Northern Rajasthan that falls in Mewat region.
He reached a Muslim hamlet where most people had little awareness about religion.
They neither prayed, not could recite Quranic verses. Maulana Thanvi, a leading light of Deoband, asked them if they organised any event. "We have a platform, which is called Imam Husain Ka Chabutra. Here Tazia is kept during Muharram", came the reply.
"If a person who can read arrives, the Shahadatnama is read out here". Maulana Thanvi told them to ensure that the rituals were performed with more zeal and urged them to call 'Aalims' from outside during Muharram, for 'taqreer' [discourses].
After leaving the place, his companions who were quite surprised, asked him that how come Maulana Thanvi who always opposed these rituals, encouraged the locals and told them to continue the 'Azadari' [Tazia, Ashura related] rituals.
Maulana Thanvi replied, "these people have no link with Islam, except Imam Husain's name. If I discourage them at this point, there is little chance that there association with the religion would remain and they may turn towards irtidad.
However, if they continue the practices and call clerics from outside, the link would remain and they may learn basics of Islam too viz.prayers, fasting et al. Hence, it was important, to tell them to continue the practices", he said.
Clearly, it was his tact--hikmat. If he had begun with denouncing them, calling them ignorant or branding them as non-Muslims, it wouldn't have helped at all. Unfortunately, today, it has become a norm for people to call fellow Muslims, 'mushrik', without even realising that it is not permissible an one doesn't have the authority to pass such judgments.