KOZHIKODE: Difference of opinion in Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyyathul Ulema, an association of Sunni scholars, over the appearance of women on public platforms came to the fore on Saturday after two of its senior leaders made contradictory statements on the matter.
Samastha president Syed Muhammad Jiffri Muthukoya Thangal termed the incident in Malappuram, in which organisers of an event called a Class 10 girl to stage for receiving the award and ended up drawing flak from Samastha secretary M T Abdulla Musaliyar, an isolated one. However, at the same press meet, Musaliyar said prohibiting women’s entry into public spaces was the known stand of Samastha.
“Incidents of grownup girls appearing on public stage was unknown in the nearly 100-year-old history of Samastha and there are many virtues in deciding so,” he said. The incident had sparked a controversy with Governor Arif Mohammed Khan tweeting his disapproval of the scholar’s actions.
“The recent incident at a madrassa in Malappuram asking girls not to come on stage to receive awards, which ignited a controversy, is an isolated one. The Samastha secretary asked the organisers not to ask girls to come on stage as a student who received memento had shown some reluctance,” Thangal said.
He said Musaliyar directed the organisers to not call the other girls to the dais as they too might have been shy. “Bahaudeen Musaliyar (vice-chancellor of Darul Huda Islamic University) and I recently attended a programme where prizes were distributed to girls,” Thangal said. He also denied the allegation that the girl had been humiliated. “Musaliyar gave the direction after she received the award and left the stage,” he said.
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Thangal said there were stipulations for Muslim women for appearing in public. “Women sometimes show shyness. Some type of shyness is necessary,” he said, adding that people from different walks of society reacted to the controversy as they were misled by the media, he said.On the governor’s reactions, Thangal said he did not know the religious education Khan had received.
He also dismissed the case registered against Samastha by the Kerala Child Rights Commission as a routine affair.However, Musaliyar justified his action saying that prohibiting women’s entry into public spaces was the known stand of Samastha. “I attended a seminar at Puthur in Karnataka where he distributed certificates to those who completed the courses. There, the parents and teachers received the prizes, not the students. “There was a curtain at the venue to seclude women and they enjoyed the function from there,” he said.