Islamic seminaries in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday issued a 'fatwa' or edict against the state government's move to provide reservations to Muslims in education and employment on the basis of caste system.
Stating that all are equal among Muslims and there is no caste system in Islam, six famous seminaries issued a 'fatwa' against the government's proposal. They said this type of division was unacceptable in 'shariat'.
"Muslims all over the world are equal. There is no distinction of caste, colour or race among them. Therefore, creating distinction among them for reservations is improper under shariat," said a 'fatwa' issued by Jamia Nizamia, a 125-year-old Islamic university based in Hyderabad.
The copies of the diktat were released at a news conference here addressed by leaders of Muslim United Action Committee (MUAC), which comprises half a dozen religious, political and social organisations. The MUAC had sought opinion from the seminaries.
The Muslim leaders rejected the government's move and termed it as an attempt to create divisions among the community. They said reservations should be provided to Muslims, who are socially, economically and educationally backward, without dividing them on the basis of caste.
"Islam has no caste system and the government's move is nothing but an attempt to divide Muslims," said prominent religious scholar and MUAC convenor Moulana Hameeduddin Auqil Hussami.
Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) MP Asaduddin Owaisi said backwardness should be the sole criterion for providing reservations to Muslims. "The Andhra Pradesh government should follow the Karnataka model where reservations were provided to Muslims without creating any such distinctions," he said.
MUAC leaders, who plan to meet Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, warned that the move would have serious repercussions for the Congress government.
"Congress came to power with support from Muslim community and by taking this step it will lose their support," said Majlis-e-Tameer Millat president Abdur Rahim Qureshi, who is also the secretary of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
"We are not demanding reservations for all those who profess Islam. We want reservations on the basis of backwardness by excluding the creamy layer," he said.
The Muslim leaders voiced their apprehension that the government could withdraw its appeal in the Supreme Court on five percent reservations to Muslims to issue a new order on caste-based reservations. The appeal was filed last year against a high court order, setting aside a legislation providing five percent quota in education and government jobs.
The government had issued an order in 2005 providing five percent reservations to Muslims. It brought a legislation in 2006 after the high court struck down the order. The legislation was also set aside by the court.
Muslims constitute about nine percent of 76 million population of Andhra Pradesh.