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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Girl at madrasa event row: Muslim clerics’ body backs religious scholar

‘He wanted to avoid a situation in which girls may feel shy about stepping on to a stage occupied by clerics’, says president of influential body of Muslim clerics

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: May 14, 2022 7:20:31 pm
Earlier this week, at a madrassa function in Malappuram, Islamic scholar M T Abdulla Musaliyar publicly scolded the organisers after they invited a girl, a Class X student, to the stage for receiving an award.

Kerala’s influential body of Muslim clerics, Samastha Kerala Jem’iyyathul Ulema, on Saturday justified the recent incident of a cleric openly objecting to a minor girl stepping on to a public venue occupied by a battery of religious scholars.

Earlier this week, Islamic scholar M T Abdulla Musaliyar had publicly scolded the organisers after they invited a Class 10 girl on stage to receive an award at a madrasa function in Malappuram. Musaliyar had turned against the organisers after the girl stepped off the stage with a memento. Subsequently, one of the organisers immediately assured that it will not be repeated.

On Saturday, Samastha president Sayyid Muhammad Jifri Muthukkoya Thangal said, “We can function only within the boundaries of Islamic rules, which are not man-made. Public venues have certain norms.”

The Samastha chief said, “The Musaliyar had no intention to insult the girl. He wanted to avoid a situation in which the girls may feel shy about stepping into a stage, occupied by ustads (clerics). When the cleric looked at the face of the girl, who came to the stage, he felt that she was nervous. It is quite natural that women feel shy when they come to a venue occupied by men. Hence, he wanted to avoid such an embarrassing situation for other girls waiting to receive the award and scolded the organiser,’’ said Muthukoya Thangal.

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Musaliyar, who also addressed the media, justified his action, which had triggered protests from various quarters. “Islam does not allow women to mingle with men. There should be a curtain between women and men…women can enjoy everything, watch everything from beyond that curtain,’’ said Musaliyar, who is a senior functionary of Samastha Kerala Sunni Vidyabhyasa Board, which regulates madrasa education in Kerala.

Thangal said the girl or her family does not have any complaint about the incident. “We don’t promote any fundamentalism and extremism.”

The State Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights had taken a suo motu case note of the incident and sought a report from the district officer in Malappuram on the incident.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Thursday said he was “disappointed” by the silence of the political, social and economic leadership of the country on the issue.

Attacking the clerics, Khan had said: “They are the people who are responsible for creating Islamophobia.’’

Khan said: “If it would have become really a protest, then possibly I would not have commented on it. I regret the kind of reaction that should have come from a society like Kerala, which is known for gender equality and protecting the dignity and honour of women, has not been seen. Had there been a protest against it, there would have been no need for me to speak.’’

He said there was a conspiracy to push women back into the four walls of their houses and foreclose their career ambitions so that they lose interest in education and imprison themselves at home.

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