A TV channel on Sunday aired purported footage of Muslim clerics in the national capital and Uttar Pradesh issuing fatwas for a payment, triggering condemnation from community leaders and protests in Meerut.
The clerics allegedly issued fatwas on a variety of subjects, including the use of credit cards and camera phones by Muslims, acting in films, and watching television, said the report on Star News that carried out a sting operation along with Cobrapost in Delhi and Meerut.
One of the clerics, Ahmed Nadir Al Qasmi, an official of Delhi-based Islamic Fiqh Academy, was shown allegedly accepting Rs 5,000 for issuing a fatwa.
The footage also purportedly showed Maulana Imran, a cleric from Meerut, allegedly demanding Rs 50,000 for issuing five fatwas against the wearing of jeans by girls in Muslim-run institutes and the teaching of English in madrassas.
In Meerut, students of a madrassa staged a protest against the clerics, saying the incident had "hurt" the community. Muslim leaders convened a meeting of clerics to decide whether action should be taken against those named in the sting operation.
In a statement, Islamic Fiqh Academy general secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rehmani expressed regret at the incident. He said the body had launched a probe and would take action against anyone found guilty. Ahmed Nadir Al Qasmi had been restrained from issuing any more fatwas, he said.
Rehmani said the academy was not responsible for Qasmi's actions. He said the academy did not charge anything for fatwas, which were issued only after they had been vetted by at least two clerics.