Fatwa against iftars hosted by politicians dampens annual minority wooing. By Kulsum Mustafa

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The Darul Uloom Nadvatul Ulema, Lucknow’s fatwa against iftar parties hosted by political organisations has come as a dampener against the annual wooing of the minority community by the political parties.
The fatwa was issued on August 18, 2009 on a query made by (retired) Colonel MJ Shamsi. In the reply Mufti Zahoor Nadvi of the Darul Ifta stated that holding of iftar by political parties has no religious basis as that these parties organise the iftars invested interest. The fatwa seems to have made the obvious more clear. This certainly is one religious edict which will by and large find many supporters in the Muslim community.
Ever since the then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna organised the first roza iftar in the state capital in the seventies the hosting of these functions is 'religiously' done by political parties to woo the Muslims. While the whose who of the city are invited to these functions, it is ensured that there is a fair sprinkling of the skull-caped and Muslim clerics among the invitees.
Keeping in mind the dictates of gender equality special arrangements of breaking fasts are made for the women too. Of course most of them are not purda observing damsels and prefer to mingle with the males after the namaaz.
While the style and audience differs from party to party the one hosted by the governor has an august gathering and more or less a fixed invitee list that has only been slightly amended over the years. It is often mandatory for government officers to be present at these does.
But it is true that in the heart of hearts most of Muslims invited to such 'iftar parties' have always found them to be in the way of them performing their religious duties in this pious month reserved for prayers and social work towards humanity.
"I highly object to the word party attached to iftar," said a senior Muslim bureaucrat who had attended several such iftars in the course of his duty. Many Muslims term these as "political iftars" where to be seen is a must otherwise you become a subject of great speculations in your social and professional circle.
Maybe the fatwa will now provide the Muslims a good opportunity and courage to refuse attending these political iftars in the name of religion. Whether this change proves to be effective or not- only time will change.

(The author is a senior journalist and Secretary-General of Media Nest. She is a fellow of Citizen News Service (CNS) Writers’ Bureau. Website: www.citizen-news.org )

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