What is a fatwa: A fatwa is ruling that is based on Islamic jurisprudence and law. It is usually issued on matters concerning the Islamic faith and advises the proper course of action under the light of religion. Having said that, the modern-day fatwa is merely mockery of the system and is often used by religious leaders to pronounce absurd verdicts based on their limited knowledge of religion, and prejudice about liberal theories and ideologies. Moreover, a fatwa is not a mandatory ruling. An individual, or group, is free to either follow it or denounce it.
Who issues the fatwa? Usually a religious scholar of the highest order issues the fatwa. The scholar must be an expert in religious affairs. But, considering the amusing fatwas that are issued by clerics these days, it seems hard to fathom how they could be termed ‘scholars’.
Here are some modern fatwas on clothing.
1. Ties: Dargah Aala Hazrat seminary of the town of Bareilly in India issued a fatwa that declared the wearing of ties as ‘un-Islamic’. One of the clerics there suggests that the tie resembles the cross. They also asserted that once fastened around the neck, the resemblance is complete. Stating that to “adopt the symbols of non-Muslims without a lawful reason, even if it is a single thing that makes them identical with non-Muslims in this way” was un-Islamic, the seminary pronounced the tie as ‘forbidden’.
Sania Mirza's clothes became a talking point
2. Tennis dresses: While the obsession of religious leaders with women’s skin (and skin-show) needs no introduction, in 2005, an organization issued a fatwa against India’s leading sports stars, Sania Mirza. She was asked to wear ‘proper clothes’ when she entered the tennis court to play. Clerics also went on to allege that Sania and her clothes were “corrupting the minds of youth” across the country. The infuriated mobs also claimed to harm Sania if she didn’t pay heed. A brave Sania, after the debate died down, attended a press conference wearing a T-shirt that said, “Well dressed women seldom make history.”
Kangana Ranaut playing a tomboyish character in a film
3. Tomboys: In 2008, Malaysian National Fatwa Council issued a fatwa against tomboyish women. The fatwa deemed that women who behave and dress ‘un-ladylike’ were violating Islamic tenets. The hilariously ambiguous fatwa enraged a major section of Muslims in Malaysia. Sisters in Islam, a feminist organization, marched in protest and caused a major movement in Kuala Lumpur. They not only asked what ‘un-ladylike’ meant but also questioned why should she be judged and called un-Islamic for following androgyny.
Wayne Rooney poses in the Man-U jersey
4. Manchester United Jerseys: Coming from Malayisa again, in 2010, one of the major Islamic organizations, The Johor Religious Council adviser along with the cleric (Mufti) of Perak argued that since the Man-U jersey carried that images of liquor brands, devils and crosses, they are and insult to Muslim culture. Needless to say, the youth of Malaysia, where football is popular, chose Man-U over such doctrines.
Daniel Craig as james Bond
5. Men’s thighs: While the clerics have been persuading women to adopt ‘modest clothing’, one cleric in ultra-conservative state of Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa saying men must wear clothes that cover their thighs. While such statements were made for women earlier, asking men to cover up their thighs might seem to be a symbol of equality. On the other hand, it continues the eternal trend of telling others what to wear.