Fatwa Fallout: Omar Hits Out At Grand Mufti

Fatwa Fallout: Omar Hits Out At Grand Mufti

4 February 2013
Rising Kashmir
Nasrun Mir

Srinagar: Hitting out at the state’s Grand Mufti for issuing a fatwa against Kashmir’s first girl band ‘Pragaash’, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah Monday said his government will provide full security to the girls if they want to pursue their career in music. Omar’s assurance came a day after Grand Mufti, Bashir-u-Din issued a fatwa (religious decree) against the band and asked the political leadership not to encourage ‘anti-religious and anti-social’ activities. Meanwhile, Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat has distanced itself from the decree terming Bashir-u-Din a ‘mischievous Mufti who has no public credibility’. On the contrary, however, Jamaat-e-Islami has endorsed the fatwa citing prohibition of ‘immoral’ activities in Islam. Some media reports have suggested that the all-girl band has decided to give up music following the decree though Rising Kashmir could not confirm it independently. “The decision to continue or not continue lies with the band. If girls want to continue producing music and if their family seeks security, government will provide it,” Omar told CNN-IBN news channel. About the decree, he said, “As far as Grand Mufti is concerned, Jammu and Kashmir is a secular state. It is a Muslim majority state no doubt about that, but this state does not function on the dictates of the Grand Mufti.” “Today we take dictates from Grand Mufti, tomorrow we have to take dictates from Nagpur and next day from Amritsar,” he added. The chief minister said successive governments in the state have sworn to rule of law and constitution. “We have our religious beliefs and we take pride in them, but that does not allow us to go ahead and be angry upon.” Omar said the position of Grand Mufti is an inherited one and that he is not appointed by the government. “He does not get any money from the government and his son will inherit the position from him. He is not a government appointee and is nowhere a government representative. His view, his fatwas he gets paid for his fatwas and people approach him for fatwas.” Omar said Jammu and Kashmir has always had an inclination towards music and in Sufi Islam people here celebrate the poetry of Habba Khatoon, Lal Ded and they enjoy singing of Noor Jahan and Shamema Azad. “We always have had a culture of singing. I just don’t know why they just replaced Santoor with guitar. It doesn’t mean band music is any different from any other music.” After Mufti’s decree, the families of the girls and the spokesman of ‘Pragaash’ band are not talking to media and have switched off their phones. The band comprises of vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and guitarist Aneeka Khalid (all class X students). They performed in December last year during 'Battle of the Bands' competition in Srinagar and won the best performance award. Within days after their first public appearance, the band started receiving online threats and absurd comments which was followed up with the 'fatwa' issued by Grand Mufti on Sunday. Some socio-religious groups also opposed the singing of girls and issued statements to denounce the band. Hurriyat (G) LAMBASTS MISCHIEVOUS MUFTI Hurriyat (G) led by Geelani ridiculed Grand Mufti for his fatwa and said such decrees can only be issued when a nation is governed under Shariah rule. The faction also accused Indian media of exaggerating the issue. “Indian media is exaggerating the rock band issue. If few youth on social media had expressed their view point it does not in any way mean that there exists a sort of threat to anyone,” said Hurriyat (G) spokesperson, Ayaz Akbar. Speaking to Rising Kashmir said, Akbar said Bashir-u-Din is recognized as mufti only by the government and that no one in the state takes him seriously. “He (Mufti) is a mischievous person and holds no credibility among people,” said Akbar. “Fatwas against children is no solution. We should persuade them and not issue decrees.” JAMAAT-E-ISLAMI ENDORSES FATWA However, Jamaat-e-Islami J&K endorsed views of Grand Mufti and said Islamic Sharia prohibits immodesty and accused the families of band members for allowing the girls to sing in public. “The girls and their parents also seem to be amongst this ignorant class, but those having knowledge of Islam have a duty of making them aware of real Islam so that they desist from such immoral activities in future,” said spokesman of Jamaat-e-Islami. “Islam provides sufficient protection to the status and rights of women,” he added. SUPPORT FOR ‘PRAGAASH’ FROM DELHI In New Delhi, political parties cutting across party lines and various women organisations extended their support to the band and also slammed the Grand Mufti for calling their singing 'un-Islamic'. Congress, BJP, BJD, National Commission for Women, AIDWA and NFIW were on the 'same page' asserting that the fatwa by Grand Mufti would push the society backwards. 'This is wrong. Every one has their own perspective, there are traditions. But I believe that if after so many years of independence, we stop girls from any work, it will be our double standards,' Mamata Sharma, Chairperson of National Commission for Women, said. 'On the one hand we say that both genders should be equal but on the other we put restrictions on girls, that girls cannot do this...I believe this is very wrong,' she added. Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh slammed the fatwa and said stopping the all-girls rock band will take the society backwards. 'I have always said that whether it is ideology of the Hindu fundamentalist or Muslim fundamentalist, it will take the country back to 18th century. Congress is a moderate liberal party. We cannot support such things,' he said. Coming out in support of the rock band, BJD MP Jay Panda said: 'I think no body has the right to stop other people from expressing themselves through their music or other cultural activities,' he said. Echoing Singh's views, BJP MP Najma Heptullah said: 'Saying anything in the name of religion does not do any favour to the religion...If you don't like songs, don't listen to them. To stop them (the rock band members) in the name of religion, I don't think it is the right move.'