By Ashima Makhija
On 18 October 2017, one of the largest Islamic seminaries in India, Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur, issued a fatwa that banned Muslims from posting pictures on social media sites. The fatwa said that posting photos of self or family on social media sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp is not allowed in Islam. Deeming the act to be un-Islamic, the Darul Iftaa, which issues edicts for the Darul Uloom Deoband, has prohibited men and women alike from posting personal photographs on social media sites.
Why such a radical step?
The discussion was initiated by the written inquiry of an individual who was concerned about whether posting pictures of himself or his wife on Facebook and Whatsapp was un-Islamic or not. His submission of a written question to the fatwa department at Darul Iftaa led to this fatwa or religious decree. Mufti Tariq Qasmi, an Islamic scholar associated with a madrassa in Saharanpur, contends that the rationale behind this order is that Islam prohibits even the clicking of unnecessary photos and therefore, posting them on social media, is beyond a doubt unreligious.
Muslim cleric Mufti Mukkaram adopted a similar position and came out in support of the fatwa on Thursday. Interestingly, Islam does not prohibit pictures associated with identity verification and considers such pictures to be of a more useful nature. Mukkaram said, “If a picture is clicked to be used in Aadhaar Card, passport and other useful documentation it ok but for useless things such as to upload in social media it is not right.”
The seminary, which was surprised at its own delay in issuing such a fatwa, has a prominent social media presence itself. So far, the institution has not said anything about what should be done to the numerous images and other posts, which Muslims have already added to their social media sites.
‘Overdose’ of forced religiousness in India
Indias intake of forced religiousness is nothing short of worrisome. However, organisations like Darul Uloom Deoband ensure that India never falls prey to a condition of deficiency. The aforementioned ban comes shortly after the Darul Uloom Deoband issued an unexpected fatwa against women plucking their eyebrows. “Muslim women should stay away from beauty parlours as Islam does not permit them to have make-up attracting other male members, said seminary Chief Maulana Sadiq Qasmi. Since exercises like eye-brow trimming, make-up and hair-cutting play a vital role in the attraction of males, the fatwa has banned all such activity. He added that the “trend of Muslim women going to beauty parlours has increased in the country,” which he said was “not a good sign and it should be stopped immediately.”
The world may take rather different and contradictory opinions about constitutes as worrisome here. For the religious men, the fact that women visit parlours, as free, independent and self-sufficient individuals is worrisome. Or maybe the fact that people still look for religious approval before posting a photo in this age of global interconnectivity is worrisome. However, what might be unanimously worrisome is the fact that India is still trapped in a cage of regressive religion that is not allowing it to step forth. If our population is still being policed by a branch of thinkers who feel that clicking unnecessary photographs is unreligious, then, perhaps in these last 70 years, we have not been moving much at all.
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