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Fatwa against Khurshid gives a bad name to the community

Sermons or edicts that run down India’s pluralistic culture, undermine women’s freedom, or promote anachronistic notions should not get the pulpit of religious seminaries

analysis Updated: Oct 31, 2017 18:46 IST
Aasheesh Sharma
Aasheesh Sharma
Hindustan Times
Salman Khurshid,Islam,Fatwa
The Dar-ul Uloom at Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, has expelled Salman Khurshid for worshipping a Hindu deity(PTI)

Former Union foreign minister Salman Khurshid has become the latest target of divisive religious decrees. The largest Muslim seminary in India has “expelled” Khurshid from Islam for what it perceives as an act that goes against the tenets of religion. The Dar-ul Uloom at Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, one of the world’s leading centres of Islamic theology in the country (the other is Nadvat-ul Ulema, Lucknow), declared this after a video of Khurshid performing the Ram Aarti went viral.

Edicts that run down India’s pluralistic culture, undermine women’s freedom, or promote regressive notions should not ideally get the platform of religious seminaries. But this has been happening too frequently. Earlier this month, the Darul Ifta, the edict-issuing authority of Dar-ul Uloom, issued a fatwa that forbade women from trimming their eyebrows and cutting hair. On October 20, it issued another edict banning Muslim men and women from posting their own pictures or of their loved ones, on social media sites.

By 2050, with an estimated population of 311 million, India will have the largest Muslim population in the world, says a Pew Research Centre report . Even as a majority of Muslims disregard fatwas, or Islamic legal opinions , they can influence the impressionable and the devout. With such obsolete diktats, the seminaries are doing a disservice to millions of progressive Muslims in the country, who care more about getting jobs than sermons. The Ulemas should shift their attention from curbing people’s individual freedoms to talking about education, healthcare, women’s emancipation and other indices, that the community lags behind in. An influential seminary such as the Deoband has no business or justification ‘ousting’ a politician such as Khurshid. Such pronouncements are bound to give ammunition to those who accuse the community, particularly its clergy, of being rooted in dogmas. The pulpit should be used to propagate progressive thinking rather than obscurantism.


First Published: Oct 31, 2017 13:45 IST