Repay Army, Mufti Tells Valley Muslims
28 May 2007
The Indian Express
Srinagar: The Army's drive to renovate Muslim shrines and mosques in the state has run into a roadblock with Kashmir's Grand Mufti Bashir-ud-din issuing a fatwa against it. The Mufti has asked Muslims to repay the Army before going ahead with prayers in the renovated shrines. The fatwa has also been endorsed by the state's Muslim Personal Law Board and Nudwat-ul-Ulama, a body of Islamic scholars. 'Islamic shariat does not give non-Muslims any role in the renovation of religious places. So the Army's funding is un-Islamic,' Mufti Bashir- ud-din, who is also Chairman of the state's Muslim Personal Law Board, told The Indian Express. 'I call upon Muslims to boycott these shrines. They can be made worthy of prayers only after they repay the Army the amount it has invested.' The Mufti said the fatwa was necessitated by the persistent demand of the people. The fatwa, which came after day-long deliberations among imams and religious scholars, termed the Army's programme as 'contrary to the tenets of Islam and a naked interference in the religious affairs of the Muslim community'. 'I, in my capacity as Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir, appeal to all Muslims in general and Islamic clerics, scholars and imams to resist the Army's plans tooth and nail,' a statement issued by Supreme Court of Islamic Shariat, an Islamic religious body headed by the Mufti, said. However, the fatwa clarified that there was no intention to obstruct the Army's Sadhbavana programme. 'The Army can limit its activities to civic programmes. We think the Army's investment in Muslim religious places has a political dimension. Such steps are nothing but a conspiracy against the Muslim community and shall be resisted with iron hands,' the Mufti said. The Army's bid to renovate shrines and mosques has already been opposed by all major religious heads of the Valley, including Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Mirwaiz said Islam did not allow a mosque or any other religious place to be constructed with donations from followers of other faiths. Similarly, the leader of the Jamiat Ahle Hadees, Moulana Showkat Ahmad Shah, termed it a serious matter, saying he would raise the issue in the next meeting of the Majlis Itihad-e-Millat, a body of various Islamic sects in Kashmir. Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sheikh Ghulam Hassan said, 'It is not a good trend. Islam is generally not in favour of building shrines at tombs of Muslim saints, let alone allow a non-Muslim to construct or inaugurate a shrine.'