The gloomy world of Darul Uloom fatwas

The bizarre and illogical decrees issued by the Deobandi clerics are not religious but political and dictatorial.

The world knows that Darul Uloom Deoband is India’s leading Islamic seminary. Their maulanas have frequently hit the headlines for the fatwas announced by them.

Darul Uloom was not always a well-equipped, extensive campus swarming with kaffiyeh-sporting young men, keen to learn the minutiae of Islamic mysticism. When it was set up on May 30, 1866, it was no more than an ordinary madarsa.

However, other than education, the maulanas of orthodox Darul Uloom also issue fatwas, which they term as declarations based on the understanding of Islam.

So far, reportedly, more than seven lakh fatwas have been issued by Deoband, and those fatwas are highly respected in and the whole world among Muslims.

According to reports, a recently released fatwa says ‘photography is unlawful and a sin’, even though Saudi Arabia allows photographers inside the holy city of Mecca and live telecast of ‘namaz’ (prayers) is broadcasted on Islamic channels across the world.

According to a dispatch from a news agency, Mufti Abdul Qasim Nomani, Mohtamim (Vice-Chancellor) of Darul Uloom Deoband said “photography is un-Islamic. Muslims are not allowed to get their photos clicked unless it is for an identity card or for making a passport. Islam does not permit video-taping of marriages or clicking of pictures to save as mementos for future generations.”

Before this, the clerics had ruled that watching cartoons on television is wrongful as per the Islamic law, since cartoons are “live pictures, causing more harm than benefit”.

The list of fatwas is unending. Many such fatwas issued by Deobandi clerics have invited criticism.


-In August 2005, Deobandi clerics issued a fatwa stating that, while Muslim women may contest political elections, they must observe purdah (wear the veil) while doing so.

– Deoband issued a fatwa against dyeing hair black, saying that sharia law does not permit anyone, whether male or female, to dye their hair black, claiming that some dyes on the hair obstruct the water from reaching the roots of the hair during ablution, and make it invalid.

– Deoband issued another fatwa against manufacturing and selling of firecrackers, stating that it is against Sharia law, and bursting of crackers is misuse of money and the men who misuse money are the ‘brothers of devil.’

– According to Darul Uloom Deoband, donation of blood and body parts was against the tenets of Islam, as human beings are not the ‘owners’ of their bodies.

– A fatwa issued by Deoband clerics said wearing ‘skin-tight’ dresses is ‘not lawful’ and that clothes should be ‘loose and simple’. It also said that a couple should first seek the opinion of a ‘hakim’ (Muslim physician) before resorting to use of contraceptives, if needed for medical reasons.

– Deoband also decreed that Muslim women could not travel beyond 48 miles from their homes, without being accompanied by a male relative.

– The Deobandi clerics argued that watching television is ‘sinful’ as television ‘is a tool of entertainment and enjoyment’.

-Deoband clerics view national song Vande Mataram against Islam, asserting that Vande Mataram meant ‘Mother (India), I bow to thee!’, and ‘Islam teaches us to worship only one god, Allah. We are Indians and there are other ways to express our feelings for the nation rather than bowing before it. Loving your country doesn’t only mean worshipping it.’

-Clerics said that birthday celebrations are un-Islamic as Islam does not allow any such practice, which is a ‘tradition of western countries’.

-The fatwa that was hugely slammed by the women rights organisation was against the practice of abortion. The seminary ruled, that ‘If a holy Muslim doctor advises that a woman is unable to bear birth pangs, then a less than three months old pregnancy can be terminated but if it is more than three months old, the abortion is absolutely unlawful’.

– Another diktat asked Muslims not go for life insurance policies as ‘life’ is given by Allah and to insure it or assure it is a crime in the eyes of the almighty.

-In May 2010, another fatwa laws issued stating that men and women cannot work together in public offices, unless the women are properly clothed.

The bizarre and illogical decrees issued by the clerics of Darul Uloom Deoband are endless and will continue to come up as the aim of these diktats is not religious but political and dictatorial.

*views expressed are personal

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