By: Shachi Rairikar
December 11, 2005
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An Islamic religious scholar issued a "fatwa" about India tennis star
Sania Mirza’s dress code saying that Islam does not permit a woman to wear
skirts, shorts and sleeveless tops.
The Darul Uloom Deoband issued a fatwa against Imrana, who was allegedly
raped by her father-in-law, asking her to marry her father-in-law and
treat her husband like her son.
The Muslim clerics pronounced a fatwa reuniting Gudia with her first
husband, in spite of the fact that she was happily married and carrying
the child of her second husband.
The Muslim clergy in India has been fast in issuing fatwas against some
Sania, Gudia and Imrana, encroaching on their personal lives and human
rights in the name of Shariat and Islam. It seems that the victims of the
Muslim clergy and their interpretation of Shariat and Islam are always
innocent women. No Indian Muslim cleric has dared to issue fatwa against
the terrorists or their inhuman activities. A question that comes to the
mind of every Indian is “Why? Is it lack of courage or willingness or
On the other hand, the so-called progressive Muslim intellectuals in India
have been condemning Islamic terrorism being carried out in the name of
Jehad. They have vehemently defended Jehad and Islam as being essentially
peaceful. But that is not how it is practiced. Nor have the actions of the
Indian Muslim clergy, which is supposed to be more well-read and highly
knowledgeable authorities on Islam, in any way supported the claim of the
In sharp contrast to the so-called progressive Muslim intellectuals, the
Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Delhi, Syed Ahmed Bukhari has on record
defended Osama, 9/11 and the Taliban. While America’s interference in Iraq
and Afghanistan cannot be justified, nor can be Osama, 9/11 or Taliban. No
Indian Muslim cleric has issued any fatwa against any terrorist. Not even
when, some terrorists killed around ten innocent persons in the quake-hit
Kashmir Valley where lakhs were rendered homeless, spending their nights
out in the rain and snow. Not even when, serial bomb blasts on Diwali eve
brought darkness to hundreds of Indian homes.
No fatwas have been issued against Dawood who master-minded the serial
bomb-blasts in Mumbai. No fatwas were issued against the terrorist groups
in the Kashmir when lakhs of Pandits were violently driven away from their
homeland. Muslim clergy, which is ever ready to issue a fatwa against the
slightest un-Islamic act of the Muslims, has remained quiet when it comes
to Jehad or terrorism. This implies that Islam sanctions these inhuman
acts in the name of Jehad. Seen in this light, the claims of the
progressive Muslim intellectuals and scholars of Islam being a religion of
peace looks like a farce. The big question is “Does Islam sanction
shedding innocent blood in the name of Jehad?” If no, why were no fatwas
issued against the terrorists and their supporters in India? If yes, can
humanity afford to practice this kind of Islam?
The bigger question is why should humanity suffer for the
correct/incorrect? interpretation and practice of Jehad or Islam? If Islam
does preach a violent Jehad, that aspect of the Prophet’s teachings need
not be adhered to and only the more relevant aspects of his teachings be
followed. Just as Hindus are fast giving up the caste system, sati and
other less humane practices mentioned in their scriptures, the same could
be applicable to the Muslim society. On the other hand, if Islam does not
sanction such violence, then fatwas should be issued against the
self-proclaimed Jehadis and protectors of Islam by the Muslim clergy, the
real authority on Islam. Salman Rushdie and Tasleema Nusreen have suffered
the Muslim ire for their anti-Islamic acts, then why not the terrorists?
The biggest question is why is the regime of the conservative, fanatic
mullahs and maulavis enjoying state patronage? The British at the time of
independence and the successive Indian governments post independence have
always supported the fanatic Muslim clergy, never caring for the average
Muslim opinion. The British intention of divide and rule can be
well-understood though not justified, but the Indian governments’ love for
conservatism can neither be understood nor justified, especially so when
we like to boast of our secular credentials and liberal outlook.
It is indeed an irony that in a constitutionally declared secular country,
the demand for a uniform civil code for the followers of all religions, is
looked upon as communal by the communalists and their sympathizers, the
so-called “secularists”. A government claiming to be secular went to the
extent of changing the constitution and going against the advice of the
apex court, to appease the fundamentalists, rendering Shah Bano helpless,
a victim of the communal politics of the secularists.
No so-called secular parties or their leaders dared to outright condemn
the inhuman fatwa against Imrana. In fact the Chief Minister of Uttar
Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, out of fear of losing his Muslim votebank,
went to the extent of justifying the fatwa saying that it must be a
The vicious circle of minorityism and vote bank politics has taken its
toll. Partition, Kashmir, terrorism, riots and violence are all the
outcome of our perverted practice of secularism and minorityism.
Essentially, the concepts of secularism and religious minorityism are
mutually opposed to each other. Ideally, a secular country should have
nothing to do with minority benefits or commissions. Yet, we have
practiced both the theories together in a skewed manner, fashioned to
benefit a particular minority community inspired by the selfish motives of
vote hungry politicians.
The Muslim clergy should come clear on the issue of Jehad and terrorism.
They owe answers to the rest of the country. They need to tell us which of
the two faces of Islam is correct and, should the Islamic law persist, how
they plan to punish the wrong-doers of their community. This is no longer
the internal issue of the Muslim community since the entire mankind is
suffering due to different interpretations of Jehad. Unless this is done,
the moderate voices of the Muslim intellectuals and scholars have no
relevance because they are neither the preachers nor the decision-making
authorities in the Muslim community. The Islam as interpreted by them
remains far from the way it is practiced. They do nothing more than
confusing and misguiding the people. Their rhetoric is like a sick joke to
an innocent person who hears and believes about the lofty ideals of a
peaceful Islam on one day and falls prey to bloodshed and terrorism the
next day which again, has the apparent sanction of Islam.
Also, it is high time that the voice of the moderate, progressive Muslim
is heard by the government, the media and the so-called “intellectuals” in
the society, that we stop promoting Muslim fundamentalism in the name of
secularism. Uniform Civil Code must be implemented and the regime of
insane fatwas be rendered unlawful and abolished. Terrorism and fanaticism
in any form should be strictly dealt with irrespective of the religious
banner. We do claim to be a secular state, let us start acting like one.
Time is running out, the mistake of fifty plus years cannot be undone, but
at least we could learn lessons from the past and refrain from continuing
to commit the same mistakes.
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