The "Fatwa" (edict) controversy involving a Samajwadi Party MLA from Agra Chaudhury Basheer for attending "arti" at a temple on Tuesday took an interesting turn with "Darul Ifta" (centre of Fatwa) Firangi Mahal Lucknow strongly denouncing the edict issued by Madarsa Darul Ifta Barielly. Firangi Mahal is a prominent house of fatwas in the Islamic world.
Basheer, who had resorted to a sit-in-stir against theft at Hanuman temple in Agra Cantt area a few days ago, joined the devotees during the "arti" at the temple. While Barielly madarsa termed it as an "anti-Islamic" act and issued edict against him, Naib Imam Eidgah and head of Darul Ifta Firangi Mahal Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahli told Hindustan Times on Tuesday that "Islam had banned idolatry" and there was no harm if a person stood along with his Hindu brethren at "arti". Rashid said "it did not amount to offering puja to idols" and "hence his action could not be called anti-Islamic".
Rashid said "it should be seen as promoting national integration and upholding country's secular values". He said "attending religious ceremonies of Hindus without personally offering Puja to idols could not be an anti-Islamic act". The Barielly madarsa had directed Basheer to undergo "Tauba" (pardon) and "Tasdiq-e-nikah" (fresh nikah). He said a large number of Hindus come at Eidgah on Eid but "it doesn't mean they attend Namaz".
Khalid Rashid said such action could not lead to invalidation of Nikah (marriage). He said "Fatwa issued by Barielly Madarsa was wrong and unfortunate". Rashid said the MLA had resorted to a noble cause of pressuring the police to make breakthrough in the temple theft. "Participation in religious ceremonies of other communities could not be dubbed against Islamic tenets", Khalid Rashid said and added "Basheer had himself not gone to take fatwa and it was third party intervention which was not justified".
Basheer did not stop here and even got 'Shree Ram Narain Manka', published and distributed them amongst devotees as a 'gesture' for communal harmony.
However his political rivals got an opportunity after Basheer attended 'arti' although this step was widely welcomed by many including Hindus.
The issue has stirred political circles and has invited a variety of reactions, both opposing and supporting the MLA. Those supporting Basheer hold him as an ambassador of communal harmony while many others feel that the MLA went on with these 'tricks' expecting gains for his political future.
Chaudhary Basheer was elected to the state assembly from Agra Cantt on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket. Now with elections round the corner Basheer became active and chose the theft issue to target the government. He gave the ultimatum to the local administration for recovery of items stolen from the temple and sat on 'dharna'.