Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fatwa Games

Fatwa Games



Prakash Katoch

The recent fatwa against the girl band Pragash singing sufi songs, visibly enthralling hundreds in the audience (as shown by the electronic media) confirms the fraud wargames that mullahs like to play in order to retain retain clout. Such games are easy in India where both State governments and the Centre kissing the floor for fear of losing votebanks. Omar Abdullah’s encouraging tweet was hastily wiped out moment the Grand Mufti opened his mouth on 3rd february. The Centre, as always, remained paralysed. So much about the freedom of speech  in the rule of a government that claims to be effective and trumpets secularism. The least that the government should have considered is the crying neeed to revive the sufi culture of Kasmir that is systematically being throttled by radical Islam courtesy Pakistan and their proxies in Hurriyat’s Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Sheikh, both flush with ISI and ironically IB funds and given visas to go and meet Hafiz Saeed. Axiomatically, it is a moot question whether the Centre and the State Government want to end insurgency in J&K in the first place – more so with Shinde eugolising “Shri Hafiz” openly in Parliament and supplying ammunition to the latter by talking of BJP and RSS running terrorist training camps albeit without explaining where these camps are and why he has not ensured these are attacked and wiped out with the enormous forces under his command, notwithstanding his demonstrated impotence in dealing with the against the Maoist insurgenyc.   

Pragash, the rock band killed by mullahs was just a three girl rock band with vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and Guitarist Aneeka Khalid, who when awarded fatwa was not their first performance. In fact, Pragash had performed many times earlier and had gained prominence in December 2012 after their performance at the annual Battle of the Bands competition. The band had won the best performance award in their first public appearance – such is the lure of Sufi lyrics and music. The word Pragash translates to ‘Darkness to light’ or the ‘Band of Lights’ – the glare of which was binding to the blind mullahs.. Ironically while performing at concert that the attracted the radical backlash, the girls were performing properly attired in radical tradition, not in burqa but with their heads duly covered:

The farce of the instant fatwa is crustal on many counts. The most prominent one is that of the Grand Mufti’s reasoning that “music is not good for society”. Well, what about the Sufi music that is so special to Kashmir and should be promoted as at least a soft counter to radicalism? What about the traditional music in Kashmiri weddings and festivals accompanied by women dancing? What about the rock band competitions in J&K that have happened earlier on so many occasions? What about the Iranian all girl band performing in Delhi or is it that the Grand Mufti does not consider Iranians as Muslims because they are Shias and not from the Sunni sect of Islam?  Is the Grand Mufti realizing the prophecy of Agha Amin, Defence Analyst and former Pakistan Army officer, saying, “Indians will have no choice …. Against Pakistan sponsored Taliban who regard all Shias, Ismailis, non-Pashtuns, moderate Pashtuns as infidels who deserve to be massacred…This means that Pakistan’s… ever growing reservoir of economically deprived youngsters who will fill ranks of extremists and suicide bombers will continue”. Has someone asked the Grand Mufti about the semi nude Bollywood starlets doing item numbers on daily basis? Is he not issuing any fatwas because the so called radicals are glued to the TV screens or is this fatwa only on behest of Pakistan notwithstanding preferences of their own mullahs:  

Dear Grand Mufti, Islam does not prohibit music. What is prohibited is abusive language and vulgur lyrics. Don’t tell me you consider Sufi music and Bulleh Shah vulgur? To quote Mohammed Asim, “The Zubur (the book of psalms), the Prophet Dawood (PBUH), even lists ragas that Prophet Dawood sang in praise of God. There are also a number of hadiths, only if the grand mufti would care to quote, about how prophet likened anyone with sweet voice to Prophet Dawood. Would Prophet Muhammad have praised Dawood's singing if it were "un-Islamic?”  The Prophet/God/Lord have been praised in all religions through lyrics so stop playing stooge to Pakistan. Kashmir’s Sufi culture is way above the radical Islam taught and promoted in the increasingly radicalized Pakistan, the tussle between Wahabism and Barlevs notwithstanding.  You do not need to reinstate yourself. You should consider yourself above the Geelani’s and Umar Farooq’s, no matter how much moolah and psychological stimulation the likes of Hafiz Saeed are providing. Do open your eyes to the double faced Islam in Pakistan.

Amusing to see some sidekicks on TV debating that the fatwa was only an advice, one fellow even parroting time and again it is a ‘mere’ advice. Admittedly, fatwa is issued by a recognized religious authority in Islam but since there is no hierarchical priesthood or anything of the sort in Islam, a fatwa is not necessarily binding, However, what about a fatwa in a region infested with radicals? As per Islamic mythology, Allah sent one lakh twenty four thousand prophets on earth and the Prophet Muhammad was the last one. On the last four (Muhammad, Moses, Jesus and Dawood) Allah bestowed miraculous powers of music. So, why Grand Mufti are you putting up with the rape and death threats to Pragash and why your fatwa? Can you still claim to be a devout Muslim or are you content with being on cross roads with a peaceful and loving Allah or are you under threat by radicals of Pakistan? Do you still have to play the fatwa games? Can’t you believe you command respect without these games?  Why terrorize these poor girls and their families especially when boy’s bands are freely playing in Kashmir? Some 30 bands performed in the two- day event organized by the CRPF at the indoor stadium and Pragaash was one of them. No other band was awarded the fatwa by the Grand Mufti.
It is too much to hope that the Central Government can provide succor to the traumatized Pragash who should have actually been invited to Delhi to perform to an international audience. They would bend backwards even at the slightest hint and here is aquestion of standing up to the Grand Mufti himself. More importantly, the present dispensation has lost its bearings by just one talk by Modi at SRCC and is busy finding relief through hanging Afzal Guru – conveying the ‘softest’ tough message. Hopefully, the next government can interpret what freedom of expression actually means. 

Prakash Katoch is a former Special Forces Lieutenant General with an outstanding record of honours and awards conferred upon him for gallantry in war and distinguished service. Member of a Think Tank for Strategic Planning, he is an accomplished author and a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers.

1 comment:

  1. Hindustan has produced some of the best musicians, singers , dancers , composers and theatre artisst. A large proportion of them are followers of Islam. A kazi here or a mufti there condemning music should be treated with contempt it deserves . But the present Govt is more concerned about the insane fringe and plays the game of vote bank politics.