Taking serious note of a picture of Prophet Mohammed published in an officially prescribed textbook, the Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to the state government.
This followed an uproar among Islamic scholars and the clergy, who consider publication of the Prophet's picture "blasphemy".
"We have asked the state higher education department to clarify how it could give its go-ahead to a textbook, prescribed for B.Ed courses, to carry the picture of the Prophet," newly-appointed minorities commission chairman SMA Kazmi told IANS in Lucknow.
The textbook is prescribed for the B.Ed course run by the Ram Manohar Lohia Awadh University based in Faizabad.
The book titled "Udayimaan Bhartiya Samaj ke Shikshak" (Teachers in Emerging Indian Society) is authored by Karan Singh, a retired university professor, and published by Lakhimpur-based Govind Prakashan.
Earlier, a meeting of Islamic scholars and clerics was convened at the Islamic Centre of India here Monday evening. Prominent among those who attended the meet were Maulana Khalid Rasheed, the Naib Imam of Lucknow and head of Firangi Mahal, Lucknow's oldest Islamic seminary and Maulana Athar, president of the All India Shia Muslim Personal Law Board.
"Firstly, it was against the tenets of Islam to carry any picture of the Prophet and secondly, no one on this earth has a picture of the Prophet; therefore, sure enough the picture carried in the said book was simply imaginary," observed Maulana Khalid Rasheed.
"Earlier, it was a Danish cartoonist who sought to sketch the Prophet in a derogatory manner and now it is this book. While there was nothing derogatory about the Prophet in the contents of the chapter on him, yet considering the sensitivity of the issue, the book needs to be immediately withdrawn," he stressed.
"The picture of the Prophet needs to be removed from the book before it is brought back into circulation in the market," the Maulana added.