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Strange fatwas
The Indian Express<, India Sunday, June 06, 2010

Soli J. Sorabjee
Some of the fatwas issued by Darul Uloom Deoband, India's respected Islamic seminary makes little sense in the present world. Fatwas were even issued against muslim women working in offices were men were working. Morals are subjective. We should tolerate dissenting opinions, writes Soli j sorabjee in The Indian Express.

The Darul Uloom Deoband is one of India’s well-respected Islamic seminaries. Its fatwas against suicide attacks and its condemnation of the killing of innocent persons were most welcome. Of late it has issued fatwas that Muslim women should not work in offices where men too are employed and also that working in banks is un-Islamic. The Deoband has also declared that opting for an insurance policy is against the tenets of Islam because insurance policy is unlawful as it is based on interest and gambling. In the present age of trade and commerce and globalisation, do these fatwas make sense?

... ...

Notions of social morality are subjective. Criminal law cannot be used to interfere with the domain of personal autonomy when the acts complained of are not offences. The thrust of the judgment is that “we must lay stress on the need to tolerate unpopular views in the socio-cultural space. Under our democratic constitutional scheme different views are allowed to be expressed by the proponents and opponents”. Expression of opinion, which is contrary to conventional notions of decency and morality, has to be tolerated and the same cannot be a ground to penalise the author. Viewed in proper perspective, the judgment highlights the need for tolerance, deprecates moral policing and attempts by intolerant bigots to penalise people holding contrary views by recourse to criminal law. And therein lies the real merit of the judgment.


This article was published in the The Indian Express< on Sunday, June 06, 2010. Please read the original article here.
Author : Mr Sorabjee is a former attorney general for India
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