Monday, March 27th, 2023 22:01:28

A Fiendish Fatwa

Updated: February 23, 2013 5:09 pm

It is really perturbing to note that the country is witnessing a very gloomy phase for the protagonists of art and culture—first it was Kamal Hassan for his movie—Vishwaroopam—and now it is the all-girl band of Jammu & Kashmir—Pragaash. The three members of all-girl band have quit after a senior Muslim cleric issued a fatwa against them branding their act ‘indecent’. The teenagers became victims of an online hate campaign on social networking sites. Separatists in Kashmir accused them of Western-style cultural waywardness. The group’s music teacher and manager Adnan Mattoo said that the three members of Pragaash, which means First Light in Kashmiri, were so scared by the backlash that they had decided to disband. Against this backdrop, it seems some section of society will always be offended by one thing or the other. But disruptions and moral policing are not expected in a nation that boasts of unity in diversity. The growing trend of imposing too many dos and don’ts will deface India, which, for centuries, has been an embodiment of art, architecture, dance and music. All these forms of art, classical or folk, were considered divine. But instead of setting an example to other countries, we are emulating the fundamentalists of other countries, which is shocking, as the art of exhibition is only a temporary show, which only connoisseurs are likely to see. So, it is worth asking: why don’t the fundamentalist mullahs direct their ire at the more insidious and pervasive ways in which women are peddled by the media, corroding our society from within? From the influx of pornography on mobile phones to item songs that our young girls are taught to dance to, and the Punjabi rappers who glorify violence against women, there are more serious threats to our society. These self-proclaimed ‘culture police’ should make a hue and cry against them. It is true that the Delhi gang-rape has brought the issue of women’s rights to the fore, but people are focusing on rape per se, rather than other issues too related to women. So, where’s freedom of speech? Surely, when those who exercise it to denigrate religion/culture often crib about this freedom. Shouldn’t those, who try to strangulate it by all means, get their fair share at all? So, the fraud Mufti should be arrested and charged with instigating religious violence and intimidation. If the Centre had any sense then the Kashmir police would be instructed to take this step. But as always, the Congress is afraid of escalating the situation and ‘hurting’ the sentiments of the minorities and of course vote-bank politics.

After the three teenagers made a splash last December, they became the centre of a social networking maelstrom, with a section abusing and threatening them. However, how would these self-claimed guardians of Islamic culture explain the arrival of an all-woman Sufi band, that too from Islamic country of Iran? The public has high expectations from Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, but he seems unable to match his words with firm action. In the case of the young musicians of Pragaash, he should have demonstrated the will to fight against hardliners who threatened their safety. He should inspire a sense of hope among the youths of the state instead of making empty promises. His apparent lack of conviction is particularly unfortunate in a state that would benefit from a strong leader. But the sheer discrimination against Muslim girls by a section of Muslims is very disgusting. And in this background, it is worth mentioning that some people asked me some rationale questions, which are: how can leaders of the community blame others of discrimination when they themselves are not treating their own as equals? Second, when they themselves suppress the women in their community, how can these religious and other leaders lament the so-called suppression of their community by the political and social system of the country? Third, if music is un-Islamic, what do they have to say about Sufi music sung by Muslim women, not just in India but in other parts of the world as well, including in Islamic countries—especially the all-woman band from Iran? Music is heard at the dargahs of well-known Sufi saints across the country. Is that un-Islamic? Therefore, banning the all-girl band is just ridiculous. We have had earlier many famous singers like Naseem Akhter, Zoona Begum and Raj Begum, who sang both in public and on radio/TV. Today, there are many young female singers like Mehmeet Sayeed, Shameem Azad and Jameela Khan, who have produced their own albums. They got no threats. Then why these girls have been targeted? Banning the band in the name of religion is shameful act on the part of Mufti, and it should be condemned in strongest possible words. Girls are showing their talent in all fields and we must allow them to glitter in any area they wish to follow either for pleasure or as a profession. We should not put any hurdle in their path. It is high time people realised that they could not get away with such hate messages. Law should prevail, otherwise, these fringe elements would be successful in making Kashmir like situation in other parts of the country.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

Comments are closed here.