Sania Mirza told to cover up by fatwa


by Sunny
10th September, 2005 at 3:38 pm    

What is with little known Muslim clerics with too much time on their hands who keep telling other (usually women) what to do? First there was the Liverpool Islamic Institute lackey demanding Muslim girls withdraw from the Miss England contest.

Now, the Sunni Ulema Board, some organisation in India, has declared tennis star Sania Mirza should cover up because she is leading a bad example for other girls. Mirza recently became the first woman from India to enter the world top 50 after winning the Women’s Tennis Association title in her home city of Hyderabad. ‘Sania mania’ has gripped not only India, but the diaspora all over the world, with almost running commentary on her on Sepia Mutiny.

Haseeb-ul-hasan Siddiqui, a leading cleric with the Sunni Ulema Board, has issued the fatwa because of her “indecent dressing” on the court and in advertisements. “The dress she wears on the tennis courts not only doesn’t cover large parts of her body but leaves nothing to the imagination,” he said.

Clearly someone’s imagination is running wild. Mirza is known for her funky t-shirts. At a New York press conference last week she wore one saying ‘I’m cute?’. At Wimbledon, where she was getting all the publicity despite losing early, her top said: ‘Well-behaved women rarely make history’. With a top like that you can almost miss her nice legs *cough*
Google News stories.

Coming back to the point, don’t these people have better ways to spend their time? They could be enjoying the publicity, or have little concept of individual choice.


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  1. rizwand — on 10th September, 2005 at 4:36 pm  

    I’m not sure where I stand on this. Whether they are doing it for the publicity is questionable, as most media will cast them in a negative light. Also, these people may understand individual choice but they see this as an affront to their religion.

    The idea of modest dress is an important one in islam and because she is a role model figure they see it as a significant issue. Strict demands and fatwa’s may be a little extreme but religious organisations/representatives believe strongly in these things and surely they are entitled to voice their opinion, just as Pickled Politics is entitled to ask “what’s the big deal here?”.

  2. jamal — on 10th September, 2005 at 5:56 pm  

    these types of situations cause much difficulty. It appears as if these scholars do not value progression. However, this is not the case. If people are going to interact claiming to be Muslims, then they must act as such and prepared to be corrected if they do not.

    Many will be selective as to what situations they consider acceptable and unacceptable, however the fact remains that these scholars are working to a set guideline laid down long ago. For instance, i may be able to be successful as a drug seller, UK Soldier or porn star. However, I would not expect it to be condoned my Muslim scholars, particularly if I became so successful that I becme world reknowned. It would therefore be a contradiction for me to promote (or accept the promotion of) my Muslim identity. In my opinion, it is a similar situation for Sania Mirza and Miss UK.

  3. jamal — on 10th September, 2005 at 5:58 pm  

    Furthermore, the fact that you have not noticed her legs as you have been concentrating to much on her chest, only serves to confirm that her attire is innappropriate, as prescribed by the Qur’an. Therefore justifying the position of Muslim clerics.

  4. Rohin — on 10th September, 2005 at 6:51 pm  

    I’m sure people will see this for what it is – some loon. Sania Mirza has been making international waves as of late, but she’s been a household name in India for a while now – and she’s become quite seasoned at putting up with these comments. Maybe these old men are jealous of her success (they don’t say it about people who aren’t famous), maybe they’re just expressing their sexual frustration (they don’t say it about ugly girls). Who cares?

    However, somewhat more interesting are Sania Mirza’s own views. I’ve been following her for a while, partly because I’m a horny Indian tennis fan, but I may be interviewing her at some point. So I’ve done some research. She’s become the doyenne of the international media for being the first Indian woman to do so well and without doubt because she is Muslim. It sometimes irks me that interviewers from the West continually ask her about comments such as the ones Sunny mentions and also about her being Muslim. Nobody interviews Mahesh Bhupathi about being Hindu nor Venus Williams for being a Jehovah’s Witness. But Sania’s response to the comments about clothes confused and slightly disappointed me.

    “I believe Islam is about forgiveness. I hope God forgives me for wearing these clothes. I pray five times a day, I’m from a very orthodox family and I just hope that I can be forgiven for the clothes I wear”

    She clearly thinks what she is wearing IS wrong, which is a shame.

  5. Soultrain — on 10th September, 2005 at 8:58 pm  

    Issuing a fatwa I think is incredibly harsh and an OTT reaction. Its not a case that the scholar should not have an opinion in which he disapproved about what Sania Mirza wears. The scholar thinks that what she is wearing is against her religion, fine. Mirza thinks differently, and as a result she will have to accept that by dressing as such, some people will disapprove and is therefore not a true Muslim. Everyone has had an experience of comparable nature at some point in their lives. But being in a position of responsibility, issuing a fatwa, with the serious connotations associated with it, will no doubt encourage people to at least disapprove of her even more.

    And for what? Coz judging by the photo published above, there’s nothing adverse or risky about that. And its in sports players best interests to wear loose clothing simply to allow them to not overheat and be their most comfortable when they have to play for an extended period of time.

    Furthermore the scholar says in that quote published about how her dress sense “leaves nothing to the imagination”. I mean it’s as if the only thing that men think about when they watch tennis matches is sex or image. You know there are proper tennis heads out there, who actually rate players based on their merit and abilities in tournaments. What they wear, how they promote themselves, they couldn’t care less. And they probably constitute the majority of people who follow tennis in the first place. It’s a sport, not an entertainment industry.

    And this entry highlights an unfortunate and unfair position that many Muslim figures have been placed in, in having to continually defend their roles amongst the backdrop of their community’s culture and faith, as if it’s the only thing that defines them. It sometimes feel that when they are interviewed by the press, those are the only types of questions that the journalists can think of to ask. Like what does Aamir Khan think of Islam extremists, or in music, what does Deeyah think about being a Muslim pop star…

  6. Rohin — on 10th September, 2005 at 10:19 pm  

    Hmm…I sort of agree Soultrain. Deeyah’s received questions about being a Muslim popstar because she IS being risqué and sexy and she fled Norway due to the unfair repercussions she suffered. Has Amir Khan (Aamir Khan is the actor, but I’m guessing that’s not who you meant) been asked about Islamic Extremists? I hadn’t noticed that. I think if you’re male and Muslim nobody’s that fussed (apart from on public transport, obviously). But as far as I can tell, if you’re female and famous, and happen to be Muslim – then you shall for ever more be known as a Muslim female celebrity. ESPECIALLY if you show a bit of leg.

    Like I said, I think it’s a shame interviewers can’t get past that with Sania. But I think the best thing for her to do is what she’s doing – ignore it and get on with improving her serve. If she starts reacting to it, it will only raise the nay-sayers’ profile.

  7. Juan Golblado — on 10th September, 2005 at 10:48 pm  

    I hope — and I think it’s true — that people like Sania Mirza are creating more space in which people can consider themselves to be Muslim. It seems like she’s making it more possible for somebody to say, “yeah, I’m Muslim and that doesn’t mean I’m sexually repressed, nor does it mean that I make demands on other people’s behaviour so long as they don’t hurt others”.

    I know Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim people who are like that about their religion. But the Muslims I know have to deal with the same sort of threatening criticism that Sania Mirza has to put up with.

    So I think they are awfully brave to do so. And I have a very low opinion of non-Muslims, or anyone else, who support the threatening critics.

    It reminds me of the responses by people like Granta editor Ian Jack and Guardian reporter Jonathan Freedland to the storming of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre by Sikh religionists over its production of Behtzi by the Sikh playwright, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti. The Catholic Church joined in on the side of the Sikh religionists. The B’ham Rep caved in and closed the play. And Ian Jack and Jonathan Freedland supported them for doing it.

    Let us see now who has the courage to support Sania Mirza and who doesn’t.

  8. jamal — on 10th September, 2005 at 11:26 pm  

    “I believe Islam is about forgiveness. I hope God forgives me for wearing these clothes. I pray five times a day, I’m from a very orthodox family and I just hope that I can be forgiven for the clothes I wear”

    She clearly thinks what she is wearing IS wrong, which is a shame.

    This is not a “shame”. This is a Muslim who recognises and acknowledges what her religion says. There is no shame about that.

    What would be a shame is if she said, “Im a Muslim and i dont care”.

    What she is trying to do with this type of statement in light of her dress, is to have the best of both worlds. Many of us try to do it, but deep down we know what the Qur’an says. I wonder if she will cover a little more if she became the #1 seed or retired? I think she would!

    Furthermore, if she is piously praying 5 times a day and therefore obviously values her deen, then why can we not just accept that the scholars are right, she accepts it also, and would actually do more of a service for her muslim sisters if she covered up. This type of case and evident piblicity is only causing the old “muslim women are oppressed” arguement to emerge”.

    Ask yourself, based on what she has said, is she wearing these clothes because she wants to or because the profession requires it, and it would be difficult for her not to comply due to the politics of the tennis world?

    Once long ago, Asians were told they could not wear traditional or religious clothing in places of work or study. Lets not forget that, and lets not become like the oppressors of our ancestors!

  9. Rohin — on 10th September, 2005 at 11:52 pm  

    Jamal, what are you on about? How is anyone oppressing her, other than the Muslim ‘scholars’ you are defending? How does the analogy to Asians being told not to wear traditional clothes work? Nobody’s telling her what to wear except you and the fundas.

    I said it’s a shame because she feels that she’s sinning every time she plays tennis. If that’s what you think she should feel, then bully for you. How, pray tell, would she be doing her Muslim sisters a favour by covering up? She would not play as well and fall down the rankings. She’s done more of a service for Muslim women by achieving so much – how many female Muslim role models are there in the sporting world? She’s also done Indian women a massive service. Indian sport is a disgrace and if she’s encouraged some Indian girls to pick up a racket or a ball then I think that’s fantastic.

    Is there no space for those who interpret the Quran in such a way to acknowledge this? That all she is doing is showing a bit of leg but achieving so much? Or would they rather she covered herself from head to toe and played tennis in a niqab? Or perhaps that she didn’t play at all? And before you say you can play just as well in tracksuit bottoms – you can’t. I suppose Muslim women will never be allowed to be swimmers according to you? I really wonder what would happen if a Muslim swimming prodigy came along, there’s no scope for covering up in that sport.

    “I wonder if she will cover a little more if she became the #1 seed or retired? I think she would!”

    What nonsense. If she became world number 1, why would that make her change the clothes that took her there?

    I also think it’s great that she DOES pray five times a day and is clearly proud of being Muslim. It’s showing Muslim girls that going into sport is not something that means you have to abandon your religion.

    Is it asking too much to just be proud of an 18 year old girl who has become the first Indian woman to reach the last 16 in a grand slam instead of saying she should cover up? YOU’RE the oppressor.

  10. jamal — on 11th September, 2005 at 12:23 am  

    She is right to feel that she is sinning every time she plays because she is. Regardless of our differing views on this subject, she acknowledges that she should not be so exposed, and this is the point.

    I am saying she should cover up based on the same rules that she adheres to and acknowledges she is breaking. Therefore how am I oppressing her, or are you arguing she is oppressing herself also, or maybe even oppressed by Allah?

    Islam is not a “Pick and Choose” religion. She knows that she can not interpret the Qur’an in a more user friendly way for herself, and therefore acknowledges that she sins. If this was not the case there would be some more debate, the fact remains that it is not As I said in my initial post, if i wish to pursue a career in Crack or Porn, I would have to accept that certian aspects of the job would be unislamic!

    This old “Muslim women opression” arguement that has emerged here is the reason she does a disservice to Muslim women. I do not ignore her sporting achievements, however, the arguement that she should be able to wear what she wants, is to argue that Muslim women who dress accordingly with the Qur’an are oppressed or in need of liberation.

    Praying to make up for dressing in revealing clothes as she has admitted, merely sends out a message that what she is doing is wrong, and that to play in the mainstream requires the contradiction or temporary abandonment of ones religion. This cannot be ignored. If she were to play in a more covering attire, then would it not serve to bring more Muslim girls into the game, and make them confident to play in the mainstream, without the pressure to contradict their religion?

  11. Kulvinder — on 11th September, 2005 at 1:29 am  

    I’ve never heard of the Sunni Ulema Board (‘some organisation in india’) im quietly confident that Sania Mirza has never heard of them either. Fighting the good fight against people who’d fight the good fight against you is all good but at some point you have to take a step back and do a cost/benefit analysis of the whole thing.

    Im not supporting what some organisation in india says its just that theres this man yeah, he lives down the highstreet (well i assume so, hes always there) and he be shouting crazy stuff about THE END IS NIGH and shit. Now the po-leace, they could take him down for scaring the locals, but it wouldn’t really accomplish anything.

    Everyone just ignores him.

  12. rkay — on 11th September, 2005 at 2:04 am  

    I too have not heard about this Board before. Not that I know who is who, but doesn’t seem like these guys are very famous.

    Coming to the point of dress, Did it ever occur to you all why the women dress should be so revealing and not the men’s. This is part of the marketing strategy by Tennis associations running the show.

    I also think that sania can play just as well wearing shorts (like men), but how ‘uncool’ would that be.
    So, there is kind of pressure from the ‘liberals’ too in this regard as to what is ‘cool’ and what is not.

    Iam not supporting the fatwa in any way. And too many fatwas will reduce the value and after a while people may just stop caring about them

  13. lost — on 11th September, 2005 at 2:54 am  

    What a facade!! so bloody fed up with these stupid religious epigogs.

    Do you lot really believe her statement. I don’t. She is only saying it to save her life and too right.

    If Islam is a peaceful religion full of forgiveness, why is it that a death sentence is ordered and threats made for people to abide by religion forcefully. Somewhere, these leaders are themselves are totally lost, and you guys hide behind your religion aren’t any better. No one ascribes to the religious instructions nowadays no matter what religion they belong to. It is just not possible. If every Christian, Hindu, Sikhs etc had to abide by everything it instructs, we would have not progressed so far.

    A faith cannot be oppressive & dictatorial. It will demise under those circumstances, as people’s tolerance decrease.

    If Sania Mirza is not allowed to wear dresses of this kind then Muslim ‘Bollywood’ actresses should be sent a ‘Fatwa’. Not that it should be.

  14. lost — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:13 am  

    Jamal get a life. You don’t live in the real world.

    Sania’s five time prayer is more powerful than your life time prayrs. Because when prays she is not thinking of who to criticise or comment about, she is thinking of ‘God’ only.

    You on the other hand are critical of others, look at your self first. ‘God’ did not create dress code for us, we as people did, and they change.

    Covering yourself does not make you more religious. The more conservative one is from the outside the more crooked he/she is from the inside. Surely, what matters is being a good human being.

    GET A LIFE LOL!!!

  15. Jay Singh — on 11th September, 2005 at 1:02 pm  

    Juan Golbaldo

    What is a Sikh RELIGIONIST?

    I have never heard that term before.

    Please explain.

  16. Al-Hack — on 11th September, 2005 at 1:39 pm  

    Rohin, where did you get that quote from? In the press coverage so far she seems to have refused to get drawn into the controversy.

  17. Rohin — on 11th September, 2005 at 2:06 pm  

    I’m frankly baffled by some of the things I read. I used to think that only isolated fundas have these backward views, but I’m assuming you’re someone like me Jamal, a Westerner with a decent education. Which is why I’m so shocked at what I hear.

    So how exactly would playing in shorts change anything? We’d still see her arms and legs! Isn’t that the objection? rkay your argument makes no sense.

    Jamal, on the other hand, your argument is full of holes. Sure if you became a crack dealer or a pornstar that would be un-Islamic, it would be against any religion or common sense! But for crying out loud Sania Mirza is doing neither. She’s not wearing what she wears to entice men or be a rebel for God’s sake. She’s a SPORTSPERSON. I don’t think you hardliners have any space for women in sport. You’d prefer her to cover her arms and legs and perhaps even her hair. You’d want none of her curves visible, in accordance with the Quran. And having dressed all Muslim women like this, there will never be any who achieve anything in sport other than perhaps professional chess. Please answer my question about swimming.

    I often think this stems from jealousy. None of these men sitting around condemning women have achieved anything in their lives. So they snipe at successful young Muslim women. They’ve certainly never played a day’s competitive sport in their lives. Women’s tennis has a great history and an inspiring one for women everywhere.

    Billie Jean King was fed up with women being treated as inferior to men. She campaigned for equal prize money and in 1973 she beat Bobby Riggs (former Wimbledon men’s champ) in the Battle of the Sexes. In one day she did more for women’s rights than any bullshit imam with nonsense fatwas. But I suppose she’s going to hell for wearing a skirt! And being a lesbian! Unclean! UNCLEAN! Sport unites people. Think of Indian cricket fans – all religions cheering a team of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. I wonder what you would say if Sania started playing mixed doubles?

    All religions evolve over time. But clearly people like you, Jamal, are determined to keep the women covered and the men in charge. I suppose the WTA are all Zionist pigs aren’t they? Zzzzz.

  18. Rohin — on 11th September, 2005 at 2:08 pm  

    Al Hack it’s was from the US Open coverage on Sky Sports, in an interview with Tracy Austin I think.

  19. Jay Singh — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:08 pm  

    I am still waiting for an answer from Juan Golbaldo as to what that word means.

    =========

    Alright – this is my contribution. I think that the easiest thing in the world these days is to get some cranky mullah to say something so backwards and ridiculous that the entire world can jump on it and criticise. And there will always be people like Jamal excusing what they say.

    I sincerely hope and wish that this blog can offer progressive Muslims a platform to write articles rather than just recycling the latest Daily Mail oh-arent-the-Muslims-crazy headline.

    Make news – dont report it.

  20. rkay — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:15 pm  

    Robin,

    My argument is that women is objectified in the media.This has nothing to do with women’s liberation.

    Iam saying that this should be noted as well.

  21. Juan Golblado — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:19 pm  

    I agree with Rohin it would be a shame if Sania Mirza thought she was doing anything wrong by playing championship tennis or wearing whatever she thought appropriate to wear. I also agree, however, that she may well be saying she is doing wrong and asking for forgiveness just to try to avoid a fight with the fundas. So she can get on with her life and her tennis.

    Jay, if you were familiar with the controversy over Behtzi it would be clear who I was referring to by “Sikh religionists“.

    I was talking about the people who threw stones through windows, scaring the hell out of theatre-goers, including children, who had nothing to do with Behtzi, and threatening people who were there for Behtzi and who worked on it. The Sikh religionists I was talking about threatened the life of Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, the author of Behtzi. The uproar was because the religionists didn’t like the way she portrayed Sikh religious figures as committing sexual and other crimes in a temple.

    If I had said “traditionalists”, perhaps that would have been more easily understandable. I said “religionists” because they were emphasising the religious focus of what they were doing.

  22. rkay — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:25 pm  

    In the US Open recently, some player(men) wore a t-shirt with two openings on the back.

    And the commentators were making fun of him all along.

    And linking his bad play to his t-shirt.

    I guess that was ok thing to do ;)

  23. Jay Singh — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:35 pm  

    Juan Golbaldo

    OK – thanks – I genuinely had not heard that term before. No need to get snippy – we are all friends here and nobody is part of the lumpen ‘religionist’ phantoms that may haunt you or may not – try a friendly non patronising tone next time.

    peace

    Jay

  24. Juan Golblado — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:38 pm  

    OK. Jay. Thanks.

  25. Juan Golblado — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:40 pm  

    I hit ‘submit’ before I was done. I meant to add that I was using the term in the second meaning given in that link, i.e. people who were believing in and pushing the religion, not necessarily religious fanatics. I was not aware of that meaning until I looked it up just now. :)

  26. Jay Singh — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:50 pm  

    Personally, I believe we will be doing Sania Mirza a big favour if we do not turn this into a big confrontation between the anti- ‘religionists’ and the mullahs – it simply is not fair to her for either side to keep upping the ante.

    We keep formulating debate over these incidents and they become representative but the debate is circuitous – we say it is wrong, they say they are right, one person like jamal who feels under attack writes a semi-justification for it, everyone attacks him, and where have we got to?

    A lot of hot air and Sania Mirza gets even more attention focussed on her. Arent we just using her to advance our agenda in a way?

    Let us see now who has the courage to support Sania Mirza and who doesn’t.

    This is what I mean – are we helping Sania by making her the litmus paper for a new Tebbit Cricket test for Muslims? We need to pick our battles wisely – I just cant help feeling awkward with the way much of the debate is framed and stated. How are we going to take it forward?

    This is fluff – the real battle will be over things like the Luton Jilbab case which is going to appeal in the House of Lords – for this we need to reach out to progressive Muslims who are opposed to the creep of Islamist clothing policy forced by extremist elements – rather than just having a hysterical tabloid mentality over the short skirts of a tennis player that may turn people away from us.

  27. Jay Singh — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:59 pm  

    Juan Galbaldo

    Well, I personally think that the first definition is more appropriate and the second definition is irrelevant. The first definition:

    Excessive or affected religious zeal

    Can fairly be used to describe those people involved in the protest that turned nasty. – religionist as a description of one who is a follower of religionism. The second definition:

    a person who manifests devotion to a deity

    Is irrelevant to the description in your post. Too generic. Unless you really do mean to imply that all Sikhs, including me, are in some way implicated in the zeal of the religionist Sikhs – in which case you fall into the trap of failing to distinguish between one thing and the other and you lose some of your moral ground. Its the same fault many people display when they talk about Muslims as though there is only one Muslim community and no diversity of thought or opinion or practice. You can apply the same schema to Jews or Hindus or Christians along the faultline of whatever religionist excess they have been involved in.

  28. rkay — on 11th September, 2005 at 3:59 pm  
  29. Jay Singh — on 11th September, 2005 at 4:07 pm  

    From rkays link:

    The Chairman told them to understand that sports had its own dress code, and a player, belonging to any religion, was the best judge to decide what dress suited him or her while playing.

    Lauding Sania’s achievements, he said she had become a role model for her community and the country by her performances.

    Athar urged clerics and countrymen to encourage her to bring more laurels for herself and the country.

    “They should not demoralise her by issuing fatwas on her dresses,” he said.

    =============

    I think this is the sort of thing that should be reported in the first instance – not the petty obscurantism of a bunch of backward mullah’s – but the progressive opinion of Muslim scholars in India over this issue. The first invites hot air and Muslim bashing – the second promotes progressive Muslim voices and points to the diversity of thought on the issue and shows the redundancy of hyping this up and trying to turn it into a kind of litmus test for Muslims – to push people to ‘declare’ where they ‘stand’

  30. Rohin — on 11th September, 2005 at 4:55 pm  

    Jay, you have some valid points and I’m happy to leave this ding-dong battle over Sania’s skirt alone as, as you say, it is getting us nowhere. But I don’t agree that this will ‘turn anyone from us’. Nobody is asking Muslims to declare where they stand (except those who are against her) – and I certainly don’t buy the link to the Tebbitt test. That was an offensive front to first generation immigrants, designed to make them feel unwelcome.

    In an ideal world, Sania Mirza’s religion wouldn’t really be an issue at all. But it is. So we could just let mullahs have their say and stand back and call it fluff, or we could put forward a different view. It’s not as though Sunny is sensationalising this news item, the criticism she has received is widely known in the tennis world. Indeed that’s what I was sad about – that it’s often what she’s asked about in interviews. And bear in mind how few Muslims or Asians there are in professional sport – a lot of these other players probably think that’s representative of all Muslims. So I think it’s OK to highlight these loonies and demonstrate most people disagree. It’s also good to highlight praise for her from bodies such as the one in rkay’s article.

    rkay – yeah you’re right, women are objectified. But so are men. Girls fancy boys and boys fancy girls. It’s normal. Raphael Nadal wore some awful skin-tight latex sleeveless top thing in the US Open, and everyone took the mickey. Clothes are there to be complimented or ridiculed – like you would do to your friends. I don’t like them becoming political or religious tools.

  31. Jay Singh — on 11th September, 2005 at 5:01 pm  

    Rohin

    My comments about the litmus test were directed at Juan Golbaldo – who said exactly that – I quoted him in italics above.

  32. Kulvinder — on 11th September, 2005 at 6:07 pm  

    religionist

    n : a person who manifests devotion to a deity

    ?

  33. Kulvinder — on 11th September, 2005 at 6:08 pm  

    ah already been brought up, nevamind etc

  34. rkay — on 11th September, 2005 at 6:12 pm  

    women are objectified. But so are men.

    Ronin,

    But don’t you think it’s more often done in the case of women. I mean how often do you see a guy in an underwear selling beer ?

  35. rkay — on 11th September, 2005 at 6:18 pm  
  36. Juan Golblado — on 11th September, 2005 at 8:16 pm  

    Hi Jay, I hope I can clear up any misunderstandings.

    What I meant about using the word “religionist” was that I was not using it to label them as zealots or fanatics. I was rather using it to describe them as people acting in the name of religion and defending religion as they understand it. I honestly had never looked the word up in a dictionary until you asked about it and was not aware of that meaning of the word. It’s not that I wouldn’t describe people throwing stones in the name of religion as religious zealots, just that I didn’t do so in that instance.

    As for how and how much to respond to the clerics who are threatening Sania Mirza, my preference would be for a proportionate response. Silence in the face of a fatwa, which implies consequences if she doesn’t follow it though I’ve not seen reported what consequences the Sunni Ulema Board of India intend, would tell the clerics that Mirza has no supporters. Too much protest would give the clerics more publicity than they would otherwise get.

    The story below shows support for her which I bet her and her family will really, really welcome:

    Finding support
    Top Muslim clerics support Mirza over short skirt feud

    LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Top Muslim clerics came out in support of India’s teen tennis sensation Sania Mirza, days after a Muslim group in her hometown issued an edict describing her short skirts and sleeveless shirts as un-Islamic.

    “What Sania wears in [the] tennis court is the demand of the game,” said Khalid Rashid of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which arbitrates over religion-related issues for more than 160 million Muslims living in this country.

    “Perhaps, the fatwa [edict] was issued to gain cheap publicity,” Rashid told The Associated Press. …

  37. Juan Golblado — on 11th September, 2005 at 8:22 pm  

    Now, if that’s not the end of it. If any larger or better known organisation jumps in against Mirza, she can surely use all the support she can get.

  38. jamal — on 11th September, 2005 at 9:10 pm  

    Rohin

    Interestingly you have supported your weak arguement with the example of a lesbian!

    i’d say that shows your understandig of Islamic issues!

    Are you just another non-muslim that likes to dictate what muslims should and should not do, with plans to go and tell this “Sportsperson” what she is doing is right, when you yourself have implied she accepts it as wrong??

    I’d quit it now, before your hold gets deeper!

  39. Rohin — on 12th September, 2005 at 1:07 am  

    Jamal, I’m bored of you and your poor spelling. Why shouldn’t I support my argument by citing Billie Jean King? She was an inspirational woman, it is only you that sees her sexual preference as something to criticise.

    Really can’t be bothered to continue this discussion with someone like you. In answer to your question (noting that you haven’t answered any of mine) no I’m not someone who wants to dictate what Muslims should do, you are. Because Sania’s Muslim, you feel you have some right to command what she should do. I suppose you also disagree with the several Muslim clerics who have come out in support of Mirza. Are you now claiming that these senior Islamic spokespeople are wrong?! I thought judging someone’s iman was the job of Allah alone?

    Anyway, enough of this. The end. (Unless you answer the swimming question)

  40. muslimgal — on 12th September, 2005 at 11:01 am  

    tell the girl to cover up then

  41. krazie — on 12th September, 2005 at 5:10 pm  

    She looks gorgeous. If you’ve got it…..

  42. rkay — on 12th September, 2005 at 5:34 pm  

    I almost did not tell you guys. Iam from hyderabad :)

    spent the first 18 years of my life there. It’s a beautiful city with very laid back lifestyle (atleast 5 years ago)

    And these journalist, particularly from a newspaper called ‘Deccan Chronicle’ are very naugthy ;)

    They go to some small time imam and get him to issue a fatwa and make a big deal about it.

  43. lost — on 13th September, 2005 at 2:00 am  

    Religion was supposed to guide us to eternity, not dictate what we can do and can’t do. All too often, we are over protective in exposing wrong doings within the circle of high priests, across all religious beliefs, as we have witnessed for bezti, Sania’s case and the Shankaracharya in India. The obsession to brush matters under the carpet, stems from, power play, ego and pride, without, due consideration to consequences, then to address our shortcomings.

    Our present progression does not depend on religious zealot-ism rather being a good human applying ‘live & let live’ policy. People who are entangled in their religious dictum are those who are confused of their existence and have little confidence in decision making. That is the reason that they rely on everything that is dictated to them. Unfortunately, these minority zealots become over powering within their community that, ostensibly has fatal impact. It is upto the gullible majority to resist the menace caused by these zealots manipulating nature.

  44. C from Riyadh — on 4th October, 2005 at 5:24 am  

    This is the most inanine bunch of postings I have ever read. If seeing uncovered female arms and legs, or tight shirts and skirts for that matter, really causes you to have evil thoughts, then you really need some help. No wonder all the Muslim countries are third world. Hope you think you can save yourselves, ’cause I think you’re already lost.

  45. Arif — on 4th October, 2005 at 12:06 pm  

    For some people it is difficult to understand how anyone could possibly respect a religious opinion that would get in the way of winning a tennis match in comfort.

    For some people it is difficult to understand why the dress code of a sport should take priority over protecting your dignity in the eyes of religious authorities.

    Both sides have given their opinions, but for us to use it as a stick to beat each other with and call one side backward or another to be shameless is just a reflection of our own prejudices and not an attempt to make for a better society. The mullahs have learned to live with Sania, and Sania with the mullahs. This is almost a good news story, unless we want to sit on the sidelines chanting “fight, fight, fight”!

  46. umair — on 17th October, 2005 at 5:31 am  

    My oppinion is that the sunny ulema board is correctbecause the game is played not with your body she must have covered her body and should had a proper dress.

  47. neo — on 20th October, 2005 at 5:57 am  

    ^^ yeah should play tennis in a burqua

    LOL

  48. a — on 9th November, 2005 at 5:40 am  

    I agree with ….. C from Riyadh… these guys have no other work then giving fatwa and having an evil eye….
    and this is truly one reason why we have gone so back….
    My dear Fatwa owners ..sud be given a break…

  49. David — on 21st November, 2005 at 2:38 pm  

    I guess Aisamul Qureshi should play braless. Let’s see what those fatwa issuing bozos can come up with then…

  50. sonia — on 21st November, 2005 at 8:31 pm  

    i dont like the sound of this Ulema board. who are they to tell other people how they ought to dress? they are simply giving Islam a bad name. they ought to focus on something more important than interfering in useless little things.

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