LUCKNOW: The ulemas of Deoband Darul Uloom have come out with the first ‘fatwa’ of 2018 targetting a 15-year-old student Alia Khan of Meerut who recently won accolades by bagging second prize for reciting Bhagwad Gita at a function organised by Yogi Adityanath government to mark 101 years of the historic Lucknow Pact of freedom struggle here last week.
Alia had recited the mugged up shlokas of Bhagwad Gita in the guise of Lord Krishna while competing with scores of students much to the chagrin of Deoband muftis and ulemas who have called it unislamic. Taking affront of Alia’s presentation, an Ulema of Deoband said that Islam did not allow the Muslim children to participate in such functions. “How could she dress up like Lord Krishna. It is anti-Islamic,” he said.
The online Fatwa department of Darul Uloom Deoband has issued a fatwa declaring Alia’s action against the tenets of Islam and warned her against repeating the act. The contest, based on Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s interpretation of Bhagwad Gita, was organised by UP Secondary Education Board. Tilak’s dream of ‘swaraj (self-government)’ for India was officially included in the Lucknow Pact 101 years ago.
Among those who attended the programme included Governor Ram Naik, chief minister Aditya Nath Yogi, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, and Tilak’s great-grandson Shailesh and his wife Mukta, who is also Pune mayor. Tilak’s interpretation of Gita is called ‘Gita Rahasya’. Over 150 students from 11different regions participated in the contest. Alia was rewarded with Rs 25,000 for her exemplary recitation.
However, Alia said that she would fight this fatwa out with all her might. At the function, CM Yogi Adityanath had praised Alia saying she was an inspiration for others especially those who intended to divide the society on religious lines. “Being a Muslim, the way Alia recited the shlokas is worth appreciation,” the CM had said.
Making an appeal to Alia’s school management against allowing students to take part in such programmes, Mufti Arshad Farooqui, chairman, online fatwa department of Darul Uloom, claimed that Muslim education system did not approve learning and recitation of Bahgwad Gita that too in Lord Krishna’s guise.
Dressing up as someone else through makeup and costume is anti-Islamic and was called ‘Shirq’ (believing in other religion besides Islam). “Alia’s act also amounts to Shirq,” said Farooqui urging the schools not to make Muslim students part of any such drama sequences which were against the principles of Islam. Responding to the Fatwa, Alia said she was not scared by any such edict and that she was ready to face it. “Putting barriers on someone’s skill in the name of religion is not justified,” she asserted.
“When no one else has any problem, then why these ulemas are trying to stop me on the pretext of Islam,” she asked. She went ahead by saying that before being a Muslim she was an Indian. “I have not forsaken my religion by learning and reciting Bhagwad Gita in any way,” she remarked suggesting that those who were making it a religious issue should arrange separate schools for Muslim society.
“Gita is not merely a religious book. It imparts the knowledge of Karma. Knowledge can be sought from anywhere. This book teaches humanity,” she commented while replying to the fatwa issued against her. Alia urged the ulemas and Muslim clerics not to drag her into politics of religion and let her study peacefully. A Nepalese student from a Sanskrit school run by Gorakhnath Math in Gorakhpur, Puneesh Pandey, had walked away with first prize getting Rs 51000 as prize money.