Srinagar : Kashmir's Grand Mufti, Mufti Muhammad Bashir-ud-Din, has issued a 'fatwa' against accepting money or help from the Indian Army in rebuilding the state's mosques and shrines, saying it was against Islamic law.
In a statement here, the Grand Mufti said: "The Shariat (Islamic) law does not allow any person or persons other than the Muslims to do such an act (building mosques)."
The Grand Mufti, according to Islamic law, has an authority to issue legal opinions and 'fatwa' (edicts) on interpretations of Islamic law.
"In my capacity as the Mufti Azam (Grand) of Jammu and Kashmir, I declare that this shall be treated as a verdict within the purview of the Shariat that no person or persons, organisation or organisations other than Muslims can construct, renovate any mosque or shrine."
The fatwa further said any help from non-Muslims in the construction of mosques would be construed as interference in the religious affairs of Muslims.
The army has been lending support and financial assistance in Kashmir under Operation 'Sadbhavana' and so far over Rs.1 million has been spent for the construction and renovation of 11 shrines in the Kashmir Valley.
Reacting to the fatwa, the spokesman of the army's 15th corps, Lt. Col. A.K. Mathur said: "We only help construction/renovation of religious places if there is a request from the people.
"If the people don't want our help, there is no force from our side."
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the valley's chief priest, who is also chairman of the moderate group of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, has also criticized the army for "interference in the religious affairs of Muslims of Kashmir".