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Islamic Fatwa(s) Challenging Human Rights
By Tanveer Jafri
Contributing Writer
Fatwa in Islam is a suggestion or instruction which is issued by an Islamic scholar keeping in view the Sharia and Islamic laws. Usually the right to issue Fatwa is with the scholar on the post of Mufti. Many Islamic institutions have even constituted a separate committee of scholars for the purpose of issuing. One more thing should be clear regarding Fatwas that these Fatwas are only suggestions, & not Islamic orders or directions. To follow any Fatwa or not entirely depends on individual Muslim. Fatwas are not binding. Muslim clerics from time to time have issued Fatwas relating to economic matters, marriage, women ethics and religious rituals etc.

At global level, Fatwa first time came into limelight when in 1989 the leader of Islamic Revolution in Iran and the topmost cleric of Shiite community Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a Fatwa of death against the author Salman Rushdie for his controversial book ‘The Satanic Verses’ which allegedly showed Prophet Mohammad in bad light. Lately, some years ago similar kind of Fatwa was issued against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen. I must clarify here that in Islam there is no place for debate and criticism vis-a-vis Islamic issues. Islam doesn’t show any kind of tolerance on such matters. Therefore, such Fatwas are being issued against the people who speak against the Allah (God), Holy Quraan or the Prophets. Some years ago a death Fatwa was issued in Afghanistan against a Muslim youth Abdul Rehman who had converted to Christianity. He was saved after much international pressure. It won’t be wrong to say that kinds of death Fatwas filled with intolerance are against the basic Human Rights of expression and freedom.

Islamic Fatwas are often in controversies. For instance in November 2008 a Fatwa was issued in Malaysia which prohibited practising the yoga calling it anti-Islamic. Darul Uloom Deoband,in India, one of the biggest Islamic seminary in the world, last days issued such Fatwas which openly violate the basic Human Rights. According to these Fatwas, women doing any private or government service is anti-Islamic. Muslim women are told to be in home and if they go outside, they should be in burqa. Women are prohibited to talk to outsider men. They are told not to use perfumes and deo. Bangles are also called as anti-Islamic. According to Fatwa, by use of all these things men are attracted towards women. Man and woman are compared with petrol and matchstick which when come in contact can destroy everything. Even, the fatwa suggested to keep women like goat. Wherever man should go, he should take his wife like a goat and if leaving her at home alone, she should be locked so that any ‘wolf’ is not able to reach her.

These so called Islamic clerics also issued a fatwa against the famous Bollywood star Salman Khan just because he organised a Ganesh Pooja (a Hindu ritual) at his home. Similar fatwa had been issued against superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Fatwa has also been issued prohibiting Indian Muslims to chant the national song Vande Mataram. In Kerala, Mullahs also issued fatwas prohibiting Muslim women to marry with a Communist Party member. Fatwas against listening music, watching TV and singing and dancing have been issued many times. Even Fatwas have been issued against using Credit Cards and Camera phones. Islamic ‘scholars’ also treat working in a bank as anti-Islamic. According to their fatwas, it is anti-islamic to work in an insurance company, forget taking or providing an insurance scheme.

Above fatwas may have some significance according to Islam but in present social environment and real life, these seem cheap, irrelevant and useless. Moreover, these fatwas are in contravention to established Human Rights and values. If these fatwas are in accordance with the requirements of present day society and talk about social upliftment, then they are welcomed not only by the Muslims but also by the followers of other religions. Such positive fatwas not only present the clear and bright image of Islam, Human Rights are also protected by such fatwas.

For example, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa in 2005 according to which production, storage and use of nuclear weapons was termed as anti-Islamic. Similarly in 2004 Muslim clerics of Spain issued a fatwa against Osama Bin Laden and his violent activities. In the same way, popular Islamic scholar Dr. Tahir-Ul-Qadiri this year issued a 600-page detailed fatwa and religious instructions in which apart from the activities of Osama and Al Qaeda, the whole business of making Suicide bombers is also termed as anti-Islamic. In this comprehensive fatwa, Dr. Qadri has point wise refuted each and every claim of Osama Bin Laden and his concept of jihad in the light of Sharia. Dr. Qadri has also rejected the view of those Muslim youth who are hoping to get heaven after becoming a suicide bomber. Similarly, last days a fatwa prohibiting electricity theft was issued in Pakistan.

Since Islam has 76 different sects, every sect has so many different religious instructions. Every sect has its own Maulvis, Maulanas and Muftis. Therefore, it is not necessary that the fatwa issued by the clerics of one sect is followed by the people of other sect. Cleric of every sect can issue fatwas for the people of their own sect. Anyhow, the narrow visioned Mullahs, who have no respect for Human Rights, are entirely responsible for giving fatwas a negative image. In today’s progressive era, not only Islamic clerics, but all religious leaders should think in accordance with the present social circumstances and requirements. Such positive fatwas would surely go a long way in improving the image of Islam.

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Other Articles by Tanveer Jafri
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Mr.Tanveer Jafri, who serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times, is a noted columnist in India. He writes on a variety of issues including world peace, anti-terrorism, and national & international politics for numerous news dailies and portals in India. As a devoted social activist he is member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy.






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