Top Muslim clerics cry foul: Identity crisis

Jamiat leaders with Congress President

Jamiat leaders with Congress President

The story goes like this: One Aftab Ansari employed with the Indian Air force and of course not the first ever employed with it, decides to grow a Muslim beard which the authorities say violating section 425 of Air force Regulation 1964, because they were not sure whether the religion of the guy really prohibited shaving off beard or made it obligatory to grow one, not that the religion should allow or not. The guy files a Writ to assert his religious right in Supreme Court of India.

Jamaiatul Ulma-e-Hind, a top Muslim cleric body takes up his case. In reply to SCI’s Notice the Central Government said that on the basis of findings of Army authorities it appeared from the Islamic literatures, treatises and holy books that growing beards is preferable as a tradition of Prophet but not obligatory. Now it was the turn of the plaintiff to file a rejoinder in reply and they would.Soon after the reply filed by the Central Government, the JUH started raising a hue and cry, holding audiences with media specially the communal Urdu vernacular press, Muslim constituents and organizations blaming the government of interference in religious matters stating that “it is not for the government to decide whether it is obligatory for a Muslim to grow beards or not ,it is not for government to classify and categorize Islamic issues” said Neyaz Ahmed Farooqui among others, addressing a large gathering at its Headquarters at I.T.O, New Delhi, on 24 January 2009.

This being a series of such meetings held this month. Raising the bogey of threat to Muslim Identity, the scholars called upon Muslims to guard their identity and for that matter their right to have beard.The acts of JUH in stretching a technical legal issue involving, a single person in one of the government departments and converting it into a specious identity crisis of 20 million Indian Muslims, for that matter Islam is in danger syndrome- the occasion, timing, manner and extent, twisting of facts and circumstances and stirring of communal passions- points to their intellectual bankruptcy and unholy objectives.

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