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Tanveer Jafri: The Muslims & The Fatwa

The Muslims & The Fatwa

By Tanveer Jafri

Sometimes Fatwa for Sania Mirza, a tennis player of world fame, whether what type of dress she should wear & what type of dress she shouldn’t, gets an eye catching headline in the media. Sometimes, a Fatwa relating to Imrana, in which a so called Moulvi (a priest) issued a very contemptuous & ludicrous Fatwa for Imrana to live with her ravisher father-in-law seems to get an important place in newspapers. Sometimes a controversial Fatwa as to a specific political party, the Muslims should favour, is heard. In this connection, the general public forms the views that the Muslim society is fully bound to accept & act upon every Fatwa. These views regarding ‘The Fatwas’ are baseless, meaningless & very far off from reality.

There are 97 Islamic countries in the world. Besides, Islam religion contains 73 classes of the Muslims of different thoughts. Basically, no one class among these 73 different classes is bound to listen or obey directions issued by the other classes. No Muslim institution in the world has right to issue ‘Fatwa’ collectively for all the Muslims of the world. So in this way common public opinion is proved very wrong that a ‘Fatwa’ issued by a Moulvi of any one class of Muslims will be acceptable to all Muslims & all the Muslims will obey it. If we deeply look into the process of issuing a ‘Fatwa’ the facts that are seen are as this. The ‘Sunni’ group is counted as the largest group of the Muslims among the Muslims in the world. One Sunni group is formed of four different Sharias (religious constitutional institution). These four are- The Hanfi, The Maliki, The Shafai & the Humbly. The second largest group of the Muslims is known as ‘The Shias’. It is also formed of three different Sharias. These are- The Jafari, The Ismaily & The Zadia. For example- if a ‘Fatwa’ is issued on any matter by ‘Darul Uloom Devband’ then that Fatwa is based on ‘The Hanfi Sharia Principles’. In all these Sharias, all difference of opinions is seen. Although at the time of beginning of the Islam religion, there was only one form of Islam & all the Muslims unanimously acted upon the directions of prophet Mohammed but afterwards this Islam religion went on dividing itself into several different sections. In the acceptance of difference of opinions in the Muslims & in giving oxygen to controversial matters, the so called Islamic religious leaders played a decisive role. This system of fanning the controversies is still going on. Since the time of prophet Mohammed, in this span of about 1400 years, no Muslim religious leader has come upon the earth, who could have organized a central institution, whose Fatwa, in spite of difference of opinion, would have been acceptable to all. In a way, a wrong conception has occupied a place in the hearts of people that all the Muslims are affected by ‘The Fatwa’ of any one Moulvi.

Contradiction regarding Fatwa in Imrana’s case can be clearly seen. Under this Fatwa, a so called Moulvi had made an announcement for Imrana to live with her ravisher, her father-in-law as his wife & she was declared ‘Haram’ (religiously illegal) for her husband. It was a Fatwa affected by ‘Hanfi Sharia Principle’. At the same time, Fatwa in this case, given by a Moulvi of Shafai Principle was that Imrana should live with her husband & her molester father-in-law should be severally punished for his scornful deed. Regarding Fatwa about the dress of tennis player Sania Mirza, the Muslims having watchful, reasonable & liberal thoughts are being seen adopting a rigid attitude. Not a long time, a Moulvi, who probably, instead of praising the excellent game played by Sania Mirza would have been gazing at her dress, issued a Fatwa that Sania’s dress, worn by her, during her game is provoking & unislamic. She shouldn’t play tennis with this dress on. Although Sania neither gave up that dress nor that Sania opposing Fatwa got recommendation from common Muslims, but Maulana Nizammudin, a general secretary of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (A.I.M.P.L.B.), the apex constitutional organization in religious matters of Muslims in India, said that ‘the board completely rejects the Fatwa given regarding the dress of Sania. He said that this Fatwa is nothing but a trifling. Every game requires a different type of dress to put on. Muslim Personal Law Board can’t inspect the required dresses of different games. So it is baseless to issue Fatwa on such matters.’ At ehe same time another a liberal, general secretary of board said that ‘board has no objection if the Muslim girls take part in beauty contests, become models & wear swimming suits.’

Often, the main reason of the Fatwas being controversial & sever reactions being raised by the media & start of debate on these is often the very limited education of those Moulvies who take the irresponsible steps, as to issue a Fatwa. Usually, they issue ‘The Fatwa’ in hastiness, without pondering over it, simply basing it on a few books, they have read Hadeeses, Sharia or on some Aayats(verses) of holy Quran. This type of Fatwa takes the shape of a controversy, afterwards. As the Moulvies who issue the Fatwa are professional & possess narrow thinking & limited knowledge so is that those Fatwas impress the Muslims of that level who are poor, illiterate & conservative. As it is that, family of Imrana is a labour family & her husband is a poor rickshaw puller.

Three years back, film producer, director & actor Sanjay Khan married his daughter Suzen Khan to Hritik Roshan, son of his Hindu friend Rakesh Roshan. During that period, a Moulvi in a meeting, told me that one Moulvi has issued a Fatwa against Sanjay Khan’s this step that ‘this marriage is objectionable & unislamic’. I wanted to know from the respected Moulvi that how far this Fatwa will affect Sanjay Khan or his family or what importance they will give to this Fatwa. Obviously nothing. Instead of being affected by this Fatwa, oppositely, his elder brother, film actor & director Feroz Khan, ignoring the so called baseless Fatwas, married his daughter Laila Khan to a Hindu youngster Rajpal. Not only this, Sanjay Khan’s son Zayed Khan also married a Hindu girl, Mallika & Feroz Khan’s son Fardeen Khan married a Hindu girl Natasha. Now the question is when Sanjay Khan married his daughter to a Hindu boy then so called custodians of religion came forward with a Fatwa but when their sons married Hindu girls, no Moulvi felt a need to issue a Fatwa. Is it not a paradoxical & double measuring standard regarding passing out of the Fatwas? As far as the devotion towards Islam religion or compassion for common Muslims is concerned, perhaps no professional Moulvi is so serious on it as is the family of Sanjay Khan & Feroz Khan. I have personally met Sanjay Khan at his residence in Bombay & we have seriously pondered over the conditions of the Muslims in the country & I have felt that he is very serious & anxious for the education & economic development of the Indian Muslims. Indian Muslim society should be thankful to Khan family because through his profession, he has produced so many T.V. serials that have played the positive role in the Hindu-Muslim unity & in strengthening their mutual good relationship in India. Perhaps such a role can’t be played by a Moulvi.

So it is a great challenge for the common Muslim society to remain awake & not be taken in by the oily tongues & the Fatwas of quack Moulvies. They should take right decision considering the circumstances prevailing at that time. A common Muslim will also have to think that to what extent the so called controversial Fatwas are harmful affronting & misleading to the Muslim society.




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