Kashmir’s self-styled grand head priest of the Islamic Shariat Court, Mufti Basheer-ud-Din, is trending again on social networking sites. Reason: the priest was caught on camera enjoying music just months after he declared it haraam (un-Islamic) for a teenage rock band of Srinagar.
A video, which has gone viral on social networking sites YouTube, Twitter and Facebook since Saturday, shows the mufti sitting next to former Doordarshan director Shehzadi Simon inside a house boat in Srinagar, enjoying a musical evening.
The video shot in second week of July has the grand mufti presiding over the musical function organised by Radio Kashmir in memory of Urdu poet Akbar Jaipuri.
From Mehdi Hassan’s Ranjish hi sahi to Punjabi number Chaap Tilak and Rafta rafta woh meri haste ka samaan hogaya, the audience was humming, singing in chorus and tapping their feet while the Mufti was listening with rapt attention with smile on his face.
The mufti raged a controversy in February this year when he declared the all-female teenage rock-band Pragaash’s music us-Islamic, which forced the three teenage girls to publicly shun the music as passion.
Defending his presence at the musical evening, Basheer-ud-Din said: “It was a literary function. There was recitation of the Quran and talks of the works of Akbar Jaipuri. Why should I acknowledge any mistake? Is harmonium a wrong thing?”
He even described the romantic ghazals as “devotional songs”. “If you think we will allow girls to dance and sing, that's not going to happen,” he added.
Hundreds of netizens questioned the mutfi’s hypocrisy.
“Double speak of Mufti of J&K exposed on issue of music being un-Islamic. All religious fundamentalists are experts of double speak (Sic)," tweeted Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh.
“Everything is 'Halaal' (allowed) for the state govt-backed Grand Mufti,” wrote Twitter handle ibnebattuta.
The government-backed mufti is Jammu and Kashmir’s official priest, who announces appearance of moon on occasions like Eid from the state television. There has been no official statement over the fresh controversy.
In a statement issued by the Mufti in Srinagar, he said: “There will be no compromise about the fatwa issued regarding the rock band”.