Fatwa on BSP Slogan Sparks Off Debate
A fatwa (decree) recently issued by Islamic seminary Dar-ul Uloom terming Bahujan Samaj Party's (BSP) slogan Jai Bhim as un-Islamic and violative of Shariat has evoked mixed reactions from different sections in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 representatives to the Lok Sabha.

The fatwa issued by the Islamic seminary Dar-ul Uloom Deoband said that the BSP's slogan of invoking dalit leader Bhimrao Ambedkar, was "against the Islamic law, as the religion does not permit such a salutation for anyone except Allah."

"The fatwa was issued by chief Mufti Habibur Rehman, Mufti Mehmood and Mufti Zeulislam on February 7 on a query raised by a medico M. Mehraj Khan," seminary sources said.

While the decree had caused a concern among the Muslim leaders of BSP, a cleric from the seminary Asad Madani, who had recently joined the party said the slogan was not a compulsion for the party workers and at the same time backed the fatwa saying, "It was based on Shariat law."

Samajwadi Party leader and spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said, "the slogan of Jai Bhim has been forced on BSP leaders".

Reacting to the fatwa, senior BJP leader Hriday Narayan Dikshit said, "Jai Bhim is simply a form of salutation. India is a democratic country and every citizen is free to use any form of salutation. It is really unfortunate that now fatwas are being issued on how people interact with each other."

Dikshit also blamed the BSP for bowing to the pressure of seminaries and accused the BSP, Congress and SP for indulging in appeasement of minorities.

Naib Imam of Idgah (Lucknow) and member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali said, "According to the tenets of Islam, we cannot hail anyone except Allah. And any political party cannot compel the Muslims to hail an individual."

Citing the Constitution of India, Khalid Rasheed said, "Even the Constitution of India has given us the freedom to practice our religion."

Welcoming the fatwa, President of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, Shaista Amber said, "The fatwa should have come much earlier. If there is anything, which should be hailed, it is humanity and nation, which are much bigger than any individual. It is only Allah, whom we hail."

"In fact, I feel that there is no need for slogans like 'Jai Bhim' or 'Jai Lohia'. The slogans of the political parties should be such which send a message to the downtrodden people and weaker sections of the society that their welfare is being looked after," Amber said.

Meanwhile, downplaying the decree, BSP chief and UP Chief Minister Mayawati had on February 9 said the "greeting" had no religious connotation and was not binding on its workers.

"Jai Bhim is just a way of greeting among the followers of BSP acknowledging the contributions of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar in helping the deprived sections in getting their rightful place in the society after a long struggle and it is not a religious greeting," she had said in a statement.

The statement added that the use of this greeting is not binding on the BSP workers and it would also not be made compulsory for them in future and that there is complete freedom in the party in this regard.

"Since BSP is a secular party, it had never objected to its Muslim workers greeting each other with Adab Arz or Hindu workers greeting each other with Jai Ramji," said the statement.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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