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Fatwa against television trashed

Lucknow, Dec. 19: Television is “haram (sinful)” and even watching religious programmes is not acceptable, an Islamic seminary said in a fatwa that has been trashed by scholars and community leaders.

The fatwa was issued by the Dar-ul Uloom in Deoband, near Muzaffarnagar, in response to a madarsa teacher’s plea to clarify whether watching Islamic channels and televised debates on religious issues was right.

The edict is being seen as regressive. “If watching TV is anti-Islamic, why do we watch Haj on TV?” asked Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

Khalid questioned how the clerics at Deoband, who are no strangers to television and often come on camera during debates, could take such a stand.

“These matters (watching Islamic channels) are related to religion, so you should see from whom you are taking your religion. You should learn from authentic and pious people,” the fatwa, issued on December 8, said.

The Deoband clerics argued that while television “is a tool of entertainment and enjoyment”, it was mostly used for “unlawful and prohibited things”.

A Dar-ul Uloom spokesperson tried to fend off the criticism, saying its muftis had always said fatwas were only an “interpretation” of Islamic law and not something that was being “pushed down the throats of people”.

“It is not compulsory for Muslims to follow it,” he said.

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