Ulemas — Muslim religious heads — on Monday decided to set up a body to monitor the issue of fatwas and other religious edicts. The decision follows a sting operation by a television channel in which a few clerics were caught on camera allegedly taking bribes to declare fatwas.
Meerut Naib Qazi Jenur Rashideen told reporters that at a meeting attended by ulemas and qazis, the management of the city’s Shahi Jama Masjid decided to set up a body, the Darul Ifta, to monitor the announcement of fatwas. Rashideen will head it and prominent clerics will be members.
A TV channel had shown a few clerics — among them, Mufti Habibur Rehman of the Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, Maulana Imran of the Shahi Jama Masjid and Ahmed Nadir Al Qasmi of the Delhi-based Islamic Fiqh Academy — allegedly agreeing to issue fatwas on a variety of activities, including the use of credit cards and camera phones by Muslims, acting in films and watching TV, in return for money.
Habibur Rehman has been suspended as the chief mufti of the seminary's fatwa department and Imran has been removed from the mosque’s clergy. Rashideen constituted an 11-member committee while Darul Uloom Vice-Chancellor Marghoobur Rehman set up a four-member panel to investigate the matter.
“It may be a conspiracy to malign the image of this world-famous seminary," said Marghoobur Rehman. If Habibur Rehman is found guilty, he will be dismissed. Otherwise, Marghoobur Rehman said, the seminary would initiate action against the channel.
Senior clerics of the Deoband seminary asked Muslims to seek fatwas from reliable institutions to ensure their legality.
HabiburRehman had reportedly refuted the charge levelled against him. It was, however, a different story at the Shahi Jama Masjid in Nakkarchiyan locality. The peace of the namaaz was disturbed as the faithful refused to offer prayers led by imam Imran. Imran apologised to the community and admitted that he took money to issue fatwas. He, however, said the channel kept him in the dark and urged him to issue fatwas for the sake of Islam.
Later, an emergency meeting was called at the Jama Masjid where Imran was terminated from the post of imam. Rashideen told reporters that Imran had also been asked to leave Nakkarchiyan-Gudri Bazaar locality.
While a few religious leaders lashed out at the television channel for maligning the image of the community, the All India Milli Council, a national body of Muslims, announced “a social boycott” of those involved in the fatwa racket.