Home Indian Muslim Centre nod to IAF ban on beard for Muslims earns strong condemnation

Centre nod to IAF ban on beard for Muslims earns strong condemnation

By TwoCircles.net staff reporter,

New Delhi: The Central Government has supported the Indian Air Force policy that forbids Muslim personnel recruited after 2002 from keeping a beard. The government told the Supreme Court last week that IAF’s 2003 instructions are secular. In September 2008 the apex court had sought a scrutiny of the instruction issued on February 24 and April 1, 2003.

The government has told the court that the IAF instructions are secular and only those IAF personnel are permitted to grow hair or keep a beard, “whose religion specifically prohibits” cutting hair. In Islam, the government said, keeping a beard is not compulsory. “It is submitted that all Muslims do not keep a beard. The practice of growing and keeping beard is optional and sporting a beard is not universally recognised in the religion of Islam,” the government said gathering strong reactions from the community.

RINA news agency reports that Indian Muslim leaders and organizations, cutting across party and sectarian affiliations, have taken government’s assertion on beard for Muslims as an attempt to belittle and pre-empt Muslims from defence services. Government has been demanded to apologize for its submission and treat Muslims at par with Sikhs.

The senior vice president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Mohtamim of Darul Uloom Wakf Deoband Maulana Mohammad Salim Qasimi said, “Union government cannot decide what is dutiful for a Muslim. Playing down Sunnah (tradition) is surely an attempt to deride it which is unallowable.” He has demanded the government to withdraw its statement in the Supreme Court and apologize to Muslims for demeaning Prophet’s Sunnah, adding that “if any Muslim does not fashion beard, it is his personal act in defiance of Shari’ah which cannot affect Islamic injunction.”

Demanding action against officers who filed the government’s reply, the Imam of Shahi Masjid at Fatehpuri, Dr. Mfti Mukarram argued, “India is a secular country. Its Constitution guarantees complete freedom to practice religion. Therefore, stopping any citizen from doing so is an infringement of this guarantee,” quotes RINA.

The spokesman of Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind (JUH), Abdul Hameed No’mani told, “A similar problem erupted in Assam Riffles where Haider Ali was stopped. JUH pursued the issue and won the case in the Supreme Court. Next case came from Haryana where a Muslim police officer Satpal Singh was asked to abandon beard. JUH is also pursuing Mohammad Zubair’s case.”

The government’s statement in the apex court was in the context of an appeal by Airman Ansari Aftab Ahmad and Mohammad Zubair, who had challenged the validity of the IAF’s instructions. His plea was dismissed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Arguing his case in the Supreme Court, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan had said that the IAF rule impinged on the petitioner’s fundamental right to follow his religion, which makes it obligatory to grow a beard. Then the court had sought a scrutiny of the rule.