Fatwas – The Voice of Intolerance

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Issuing fatwas has become fashionable nowadays. If a Mufti wants to gain some popularity, all he has to do is issue a fatwa against a popular celebrity like A.R Rahman. The TRP-hungry media news channels immediately go on a rampage of inviting political party spokespersons, journalists, religious leaders and commentators to debate on the fatwas. The media is good at making a mountain out of a molehill in such matters. In this way, the media is only fuelling the Muftis to attain exaggerated heights of popularity, instead of ignoring their fatwas, like how the individuals concerned also do.

According to a recent news article, a Mufti from an influential Muslim body in Bihar called Imarat-e-Shariya , issued a fatwa against the State Minority Affairs minister Khurshid Alam. This time the reason was that Khurshid Alam shouted “Jai Shri Ram” in the state assembly on 28 July 2017, the same day when the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, won the trust vote. The fatwa says that Khurshid Alam has no place in the Muslim community and that his nikah (marriage) has become null or void. While the minister has avoided and largely ignored the fatwa, the Mufti later on issued a statement saying that the fatwa was pronounced in a personal capacity. Why then, at all, issue a fatwa in the first place, if it is of no use at all to the public?

In Islam, a ‘fatwa’ is a non-binding statement or pronouncement by a qualified Islamic scholar (i.e. a Mufti) that is offered as an “expert’s opinion”. It need not be acted upon, however, it is usually taken as an expert’s opinion, resulting in it having more weight than a random opinion from any ordinary follower of Islam. Hence, in an ideal situation, the Mufti has an important responsibility of issuing meaningful fatwas that help the Muslim society to reform and change according to time and place. For example, in Indonesia, Islamic clerics issued a fatwa banning illegal hunting and wildlife trafficking. Such a fatwa, even though it is not legally binding, is progressive and has the possibility of enacting real change in a country with a majority of population being Muslims.

In a secular and democratic country like India, however, we have only witnessed a slew of silly fatwas issued by questionable Muftis, which have been of no help in bringing about reformation in Islam. While today we have many leftist liberals questioning the intolerance of Hindutva supporters, where are these liberals when such ridiculous fatwas are being issued? Why are they not questioning the intolerance of the Muftis in India? While many of these Muftis are clearly against secularism and democracy, why is there still appeasement politics being played by the politicians and the paid-media? What difference does it make in letting your religious opinion to be known to the public?

Issuing fatwas does not only indicate the height of intolerance amongst the Muslim clerics, it also exposes their blatant disregard for a person’s freedom of speech and expression. Fatwas restrict a person’s freedom of speech and expression and to a certain extent, it is even a violation of human rights. Najima Bibi, who was the first Muslim woman to contest the Manipur elections, has been issued many fatwas in her 15 years of working as an activist. She has been denied the use of a local village pond for drawing water and most recently, she has been denied a burial space. People associating with her and communicating with her have also been warned that they will face the same fatwa. Such non-binding “opinions” issued by the Maulvis can have potentially devastating consequences for Najima if she were not a strong-willed woman who largely ignored the fatwas issued against her.

Fatwas are not to be misconstrued and allowed to be continued as part of the “freedom to practice one’s religion” clause. What the fatwas are doing is that they are dividing this Nation into believers and non-believers, just like how their Quran does. In June 2017, a congregation of Muslims in Tamil Nadu issued a fatwa against a woman’s father for approaching the High Court to obtain an interim stay on the triple talaq pronounced by her husband, citing that the father should not have approached the Kafirs (i.e. the High Court Judges) for matters relating to the Sharia. This fatwa blatantly denigrated the judiciary and the sanctity of the law. The divisive attitude, the “them-versus-us” mentality and the intolerance of the Muslim clerics, who dictate the Sharia, are largely the reasons why fatwas are unwelcome and not needed. The media should not be giving any publicity and unwanted attention to such Muftis.

Is The MASUKA Fiasco A Distraction

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Source: Yahoo News India

The National Campaign Against Mob Lynching (NCAML) had organised a rally for the Manav Suraksha Kanoon (Masuka) pledge on 12 July 2017. The Masuka law is an anti-mob lynching law proposed for the protection of human lives against crimes perpetrated as mob lynchings. About 30 participants of the rally were detained by the Delhi Police according to this article on FirstPost.

First of all, the Award Wapsi Brigade and the liberals of the media world are devoted proponents of the Masuka law. This brigade is well known for its animosity against Hindus, which may not be obvious due to the liberal and secular garbs they utilise to hide their distaste for the right-wingers. As a result, this entire campaign of ‘Stop Mob Lynching’ has been enacted and on-going for the past 1-2 months in a very systematic manner. The liberals have joined hands to enact a law that will inevitably be needed for themselves in the future, because as we know, the left voice is in its last leg.

This stump in the plan towards enacting the Masuka law is surprising. We have to accept that the liberals are also intelligent, and they very well know how to play victims. Their seamless planning in the introduction of the draft Masuka bill and successful online campaigning, makes one think that they would not have organised any protests or rallies without obtaining the correct permission. Therefore, when the rally that was supposed to happen in Jantar Mantar was moved to outside the parliament, then we have to concede that this was a deliberate attempt to distract and politicise the group’s pledge and their campaign against mob lynchings.

Masuka is a law that is especially being drafted and proposed to protect the minorities in India. Instead of Manav Suraksha Kanoon, they could have named it as Minorities Suraksha Kanoon. Anas Tanwir, a lawyer and one of the key members of the drafting committee for Masuka, said in an interview with TwoCircles.net, “It is a specialized law. Because in many cases of lynching it was evident that cow or beef was secondary but identity of the victim was primary reason of their targeting.” When Tanwir says ‘identity of the victim’, what he means is the religion of the victim. Therefore, it is obvious that Masuka is a law for the protection of the minorities, aka Muslims. The BJP, RSS and VHP often get blamed for playing communal politics, but one has to wonder who here is actually playing communal politics.

A detailed inspection of the Masuka draft bill reveals several sections that may already be provided by other laws in the Criminal Acts / Sections in Indian Penal Code. Certain sections of the draft bill do not have any relation whatsoever to the mob lynchings. For example, Section 10 of Chapter V titled “Other Offences and Punishments Thereof”, described the punishment for dissemination of offensive material as follows:

Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, whoever publishes, communicates or disseminates by any method – physical or electronic, any offensive material, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term of not less than one year which may extend to three years, and with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees.

The above law has been inserted into a dubious section of the bill, calling into question the qualifications of the drafting committee. If the Masuka law, which is the Minorities Suraksha Kanoon, ever comes into fruition, this law will stifle the freedom of speech and freedom of expression, which are so cherished by the liberal brigade.

We can only come to the conclusion that the Masuka bill may not even be enacted. Unless of course if the Congress comes back to power, then there is no doubt what is going to happen. The appeasement mentality of the Congress geared especially towards the minorities and the liberal media, is enough to secure this Minorities Suraksha Kanoon. In the meantime, one has to reflect on why the NCAML is deliberately creating a ruckus to gain publicity and instigating the Central government to act. All we can conclude is that this entire ‘Stop Mob Lynching’ brigade is creating a distraction from larger issues at hand, especially to do with the encroaching Islamic terrorist and Marxist problems in India. It would be wise if the Central government does not give much fuel to this burning fire.