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Now, a fatwa against cycling by Muslim girls

Last updated: 17 July, 2010
Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow, Jul 17, DH News Service: 22:39 IST

Notwithstanding sharp criticism over its issuance of a spate of “fatwas” (religious decrees) on women’s issues, the Deoband-based Islamic seminary Darul Uloom has issued a new decree banning cycling by Muslim girls above 13 years.

The fatwa, issued in response to a query, says that Muslim girls above the age of 13 should not ride cycles as it then becomes difficult for them to remain under the veil.

Arshad Farroqui, chairman of the seminary’s Darul Ifta (department of fatwa), said it would not be possible for the girls to wear “burqa” while they were cycling. “According to the Shariat (Islamic laws), purda (veil) is essential for Muslim girls,” Farooqui said. “Any action which creates an obstacle to wearing the veil is prohibited in Islam. Besides, cycling also has an adverse effect on their (girls) physique.”

Reacting to the fatwa, All Indian Muslim Women Personal Law Board chairperson Shaista Ambar said Muslim girls, especially from the rural areas, would find it extremely difficult to go to schools if cycling was to be banned.

Muslim girls also opposed the fatwa saying cycling by girls was a common thing nowadays. “To ask Muslim girls not to ride cycle is rubbish,” quipped Shazia, a student. “Issuing fatwas has become a fashion these days...the clerics must carefully deliberate over the matter before issuing releigious decrees,” said another girl.

The seminary had issued several fatwas on women’s issues in the past. Earlier, it had decreed that wearing jeans was “un-Islamic.” It had also said Muslim women must not do modelling.

The seminary had come in for sharp criticism after it issued a fatwa that barred Muslim women from working in government or private sector and freely mingling with men without “hijab” (veil) and also terming women’s earnings as “haram” (unlawful in the eyes of Islam).

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