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Cleric springs birth control pill

Lucknow, Dec. 4: A leading Islamic scholar today advocated family planning among Muslims just weeks after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had exhorted Hindus to have more children to offset the “Muslim population explosion”.

“Not only Shias, the Sunni scholars of the Hanafi sect had always supported birth control measures. So why should not Muslims' use all the scientific methods, including pills and condoms'” asked Kalbe Sadiq, vice-president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

He went a step further, suggesting Muslims “discard” polygamy, too.

“This system (four marriages) should be discarded. Monogamy is the best way to avoid too many children, and over 500 Sunni scholars at five international conferences had advocated this,” the septuagenarian scholar argued.

The statements angered clerics and prompted the law board ' some of whose more hardline members termed Sadiq “a BJP man”' to quickly distance itself from the Shia scholar’s views.

The outspoken Sadiq, known for his liberal views, had triggered a storm in the law board last December by criticising it for ducking the issue of birth control at its executive meeting. Then, as now, he had insisted that Islam permitted family planning.

“Shah Abdul Aziz Delhvi (a noted commentator on the Quran) in his Tafsir-e-Quran had endorsed the policy of small families. There is no shortage of precedents and religious support for birth control,” he argued today.

Sadiq, who completed his three-part lecture at a seminary here this evening, told The Telegraph: “I have always been expressing my views in favour of birth control. The spread of education can be a good deterrent against population explosion. I would rather my colleagues in the board and Sunni Muslim scholars thrashed out these issues by organising a national convention.”

Law board president Maulana Rabey Nadvi said: “We are not unfamiliar with Kalbe Sadiq’s views; but we have to work together to arrive at a consensus. Sadiq’s is a lone voice, not acceptable to many board members.”

But a woman board member, who didn’t want to be named, said: “Board members should rise above sectarian values and make a mass appeal on these issues. But they must see they don’t get used by politicians.”

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