Gujarat government's Gauseva and Gauchar Vikas Board has stirred a row by putting up billboards with a verse claiming to be by Prophet Mohammed advising people to respect cows, drawing sharp reactions from Muslim clerics who denied knowledge of any such saying in the Quran.
Board chairman Vallabh Kathiria said the intention was to spread awareness about cow-protection.
One such billboard put up at Bapunagar area here showed a picture of Chief Minister Anandiben Patel with the Islamic symbol of the crescent moon and star and a message which read, 'Akramul Bakra Fainaha Saiyedul Bahaima'.
Its translation, in Gujarati, was given as "One should give respect to cows as it is the leader of all bovines. Its milk, ghee and butter have therapeutic properties and its meat is the cause of several diseases."
"We have made 12 such posters where we have printed sayings and verses of religious leaders of different religions. Besides, we have also written slogans about the importance of 'Gaumutra' (urine of cow) and cow milk to bring awareness about the cow protection. That was our only intention," Kathiria told PTI.
"As words of religious leaders have an impact on people, we have quoted Lord Buddha, Guru Nanak, Lord Krishna. And from Islam, we have quoted Muhammad Paigamabar (Prophet), which was a statement from Paigambar Sahab to protect cows," he said.
Muslim clerics, however, refuted that the verse was from their holy book. Mufti Abdul Devalvi, a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said that he has never read any such verse either in Quran or in Hadith -- record of the traditions or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.
"As far my knowledge goes, there is no such verse in Quran which gives a message to protect cows, nor I have read any such verse in Hadith," he said.
City-based cleric Mufti Abdul Qayum Mansuri said Quran does not have any such verse on protection of cows.