After facing the ire of Muslim clerics for her remark that the Quran does not make it mandatory for women to wear the veil, Rajya Sabha MP and actor Shabana Azmi got support from an unlikely quarter.
On Sunday, senior vice-chairman of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and renowned Islamic scholar Dr Kalbe Sadiq said Islam was against “Talbani purdah” — the rigid purdah system imposed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
According to Sadiq, there is “no mention of the Talbani purdah” in the holy book. The Quran only says that the head of a woman and a bit of her face should be covered. “There is no need to cover the whole face,” Sadiq said.
Pointing out that there is no dress code in Islam, Sadiq said the religion laid stress only on the modesty of a woman. Quoting the Surah Noor from the Quran, he added that it is deemed of a man not to look in the face a woman to protect her modesty.
However, Sadiq’s colleague and fellow AIMPLB member Maulana Khalid Rashid begged to differ. “It has become a fashion of sorts for some Indian Muslims to criticise the teachings of the holy Quran and the Hadith,” he said.
Mincing no words in criticising the actor’s interpretation of the Holy Book, Rashid said it was “not her domain and the statement reflected her ignorance about the tenets of the religion”.
The Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid was more scathing in his criticism of Azmi. Calling the MP a “nachne gane wali aurat”, Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari questioned her knowledge of the Holy Book. He quoted the Surah Hizab to underscore the need for a woman to wear a veil.
Imam Bukhari cited the example of a Christian nun wearing a habit and veil to drive home the point. If there was was no controversy on this front, why should people look for controversy over a Muslim woman wearing a veil, he asked.
Interestingly, Sadiq had kicked up a storm recently with his view that the dates of Eid-ul-Fitr should be decided according to astronomical calculations instead of the sighting of the moon.