Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bangladesh Government Attempt to Ban Fatwa Condemned by Islamic Parties


The Bangla (Bengali) writing on top says: Murtad'der faashi cchai
(we demand the hanging of the Muslim apostates);
the writing on the body says: fatwa'baaz (indiscriminate
issuer of religious edicts).

Doodle (Dhaka: July 20, 1994) © Jerome D'Costa

When this doodle was drawn, tensions were going on between two groups of people in Bangladesh -- liberal politicians and intellectuals in one side, and Islamic fundamentalist politicians and religious leaders on the other. The second group was issuing fatwas indiscriminately (Islamic religious edicts) on different issues, actions and certain persons. Present events and news prove that the tension is still strong.

Bangladesh Attempt on Prohibition of Fatwas Condemned

Mufti Fazlul Huq Amini, the Chairman of Islami Oikkya Jote, warned that "the country will be on fire" if fatwa (Islamic religious ruling) is banned in Bangladesh, reports the Bangla Kagoj weekly of March 1, 2011 of Toronto.

In a recent seminar on "Fatwa: The Present Perspective," organized by Islami Ain Bastobayon Committee (commitee for Islamic laws), Mufti Amini said, no court has the right to give verdict on the Qur'an and Hadis. No verdict can be given on the rules and laws provided by the Qur'an and Hadis. To do anything against fatwa is doing it against Allah (God). If the fatwa is prohibited, hundreds of thousands of alims (or ulemas or Muslim scholars) will protest in the streets.

Mufti Amini criticized Bangladesh's Chief Justice, Education Minister, Finance Minister, Law Minister, Member of the Parliament Rashed Khan Menon, and Professor Kabir Chowdhury of the University of Dhaka and said that these persons were all self-declared atheists.

He further said, the present Education Minister's new education policy is an obnoxious anti-Islamic policy. It this policy is realized, Islam will vanish from Bangladesh. [Muslim] students will also become murtads (religious apostates).

He also said, fatwa was there in the past, fatwa is there now, and it will be there in future.
The amir of Dhaka city, Maulana Abul Kashem, presided over the seminar. Other speakers were the Secretary of Oikkya Jote Maulana Adbul Latif Nezami, Professor Maulana Abdul Karim, Maulana Fazlul Karim Kashemi, Mufti Abul Kashem, Mufti Mojibur Rahman and others.

What is Fatwa? Who Can Issue Fatwa?

Fatwa is an Islamic religious ruling or legal opinion given by a knowledgeable and recognized mufti (Muslim scholar who interpretes the shari'a or Islamic law). Muslims are not bound to follow it. The criteria of the Quranic fatwa are not as easy as they seem to be. How many qualified and recognized muftis are there in Bangladesh, especially in village situation, to issue fatwa legally?

Unfortunately, in Bangladesh, especially in villages where most of the people are illiterate and semi-literate, fatwa is taken as a binding on people. The fatwa issuers also takes advantage of this mind-set. Although, many of them, not suitably equipped to issue fatwa, do so indiscriminately on any matter or person. In most cases, fatwas are used as a weapon to take revenge on or to punish someone for self-serving reasons. Many of the local religious persons who issue fatwas, do so under pressure from influential persons or for their self-serving reasons. Issuance of fatwa indiscrimately is forbidden in Islam.

The State of Fatwa in Bangladesh

The following headlines give a picture of the situation of fatwa in Bangladesh, where it is being used mostly against women.

Today is the International Women's Day when the whole world is celebrating women's achievements and progress regarding their freedom, self-determination and rights as human beings. Unfortunately, in Bangladesh, some people are trying their best to fetter their women further in the name of religion. If half the population (women) is deprived of their legitimate rights and participation in the society, how can that country see the light of progress and prosperity?

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