Politicians, clergy make mockery of fatwa against iftar

By Kulsum Mustafa, TwoCircles.net

The fatwa (religious edicts) against hosting of iftar parties by political organisations issued by the Darul Uloom Nadvatul Ulema, Lucknow seems to have had absolutely no impact on either the host or the guests. While the politicians continued to host these parties, the Muslim clerics attended them making a sheer mockery of the fatwa against such iftars.

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Political iftars by Bahujan Samaj Party minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Samjawadi Party chief Mulayam Singh and Congress state President Rita Bahugun have been hosted in the state capital as before. All of them besides the Muslim dignitaries, including Islamic scholars these iftars were attended by a large number of Muslim clerics, sending the message that fatwas are not to be taken either seriously or religious.

Speculations of whether this fatwa will be followed or not had been rife ever since August 18, 2009 when the fatwa was issued on a query made by a (retired) Colonel MJ Shamsi. Mufti Zahoor Nadvi of the Darul Ifta stated in his fatwa that holding of Iftars by political parties had no religious sanctity as politicians organised them for their own vested interest. In other words the fatwa termed these iftars as un Islamic.

As always this time too the ruling party iftar’ was well attended. Prominent among the clerics present at Siddiqui’s dinner were Shia Cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad while the Sunni side was represented by Naib Imam of Eidgah, Muslim Personal Law Board member Khalid Rashid. Those at Mulayam’s were imam of tile wali masjid Maulana Fazlur Rehman , Hussain Mehdi.

This year too, like in the previous years Mulayam’s iftar was held at his sprawling party office lawns in two tiers. Party MP and Mulayam’s son Akhilesh Singh Yadav sat with the masses for breaking the fast while party chief preferred to cater to the VIP classes.

The one for the masses organised by blocking the entire road outside the office with a red and green flooring spread out with goodies had nearly eight thousand people. Proper printed invitations are issued to even slum –dwellers in the area for this. The poor really have a feast at this free for all. The poor in the nearby vicinity look forward to this annual treat.

The Muslim representation at Mulayam and Siddiqu’s iftars were different. Of course the opposite camp was not likely to have those seen at the ruling minister’s residence.

The common invites at all iftars are generally the media persons. It is not considered blasphemy if they are present both at the iftar of the ruling as well as the opposition leader.

Another big iftar was that of Congress held on Sunday. This was historically an important one because it was the Congress which started these iftars in the state. This annual wooing of Muslims by politicians has been in vogue ever since it was initiated by Congress chief minister, H N Bahuguna in the seventies in Lucknow. But rain played spoil sport and there was a virtual stampede like situation for the 3000 odd people who had gathered in the sprawling Congress party office ground. The organisers had a hard time arranging for the namaaz in the corridors of the party office.

What had been initiated by the Congress was over the years these dos were adopted by other political parties too. They received a lot of patronage from the Muslim clergy and the so called secular minded intellengia of the state. Surprisingly there is a strong demand of continuing them in the name of secularism and democracy.

Mr Rashid for once finds them “absolutely right.” He justified their hosting explaining that they help bridge the gap between the various communities and thus are great promoters of communal harmony.

At these iftars he says al rituals are followed. Separate namaz are lead by respected religious heads of both Sunni and Shia sects. This is followed by a sumptuous spread of snacks and dinner. The rush is heavy, because attendance means signing the bond of loyalty- a seal very much required by these parties for whom every individual is a vote bank.

To host or not to host these iftars will never be a dilemma for the politicians as long as the guests do not have any objection. In this case it seems that the clergy has by attending these iftars have made mockery of the fatwa issued by a respectable Islamic institution.

It is time that the respected seminaries not only issued fatwas but launch a campaign to make people follow the fatwas against social evils.