Cash for FatwaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Star TV ConspiracyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“BenaqaabÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢
By M. Burhanuddin Qasmi
Sensationalization of press
The impact of media especially electronic news channels in making public opinions is mass acceptance. Muftis of reputed institutions or say any humans are neither err proof nor innocent angels, and thus cannot be testified innocent or guilty without thorough reinvestigation. At the same time all media men are not supermenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?a mixture of good and bad human is natural in every field. Half trained or immature people in media are proven many a times to be ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“part of the storyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ rather than honest narrator of an incidence.
TV reporters may create stories to sensationalize their viewers. A comedy show, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Office-OfficeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ on channel ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Star OneÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ portrayed a few days ago how a TV reporter becomes hungry for ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“exclusive breaking newsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and to what extent he may go to cover a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“liveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ view. In the show one reporter entices young man in Bihar for a shoot of a suicide sceneÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? apparently setting himself on fire, lighting a matchstick on ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“petrolledÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ body in front of a ministerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s house due to his demands being rejected. And the reporter assures the reluctant youth for a protection against fire in addition to provide a sum of rupees twenty five thousand along with medical care after the action is done. The poor ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“heroÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ agrees for the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“actionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ with a sight in his mindÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?bollywood heroes die only on screen. In the show the victim was shown cheated by the reporterÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?he cries for help, runs for safety while news channel gives an exclusive live coverage with a red tag ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Exclusive ON ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ TVÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and the poor ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“heroÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ ends his life making headline news in the next day papersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“another youth burns himself against injustice in BiharÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
We do not say this was a real story but we also do not assure you that this doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t happen in the world of competitionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?someone or the other claims to be the No. 1 channel every other day. We live in a world where exaggeration to the extent of lying is considered ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“business professionalismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ thus it is extremely difficult to believe everythingÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?if the Muftis in the tape were real culprits or they were framed in disguise of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“investigative journalismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Story Follow up
Following the startling ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“revelationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of the Australian born, New York based Rupert Murdoch-owned Star group that claims to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“broadcast 60 television services in nine languages to more than 300 million viewers across 53 Asian countriesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, a clear monopoly over the Asian sky, other news servicesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?print and electronic, and the Internet were buzzing with ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“exclusiveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ headlines and analysis on the sensational "findingsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?. The story was dubbed by the Time Magazine website in partnership with CNN as the "Cash-for-Fatwas" scandal, an epithet perhaps coined from the "Cash-for-Questions" scandal that tarnished the image of the British Conservative Party over a decade ago. Indian press ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“in a run to report firstÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ made the story spicier which apparently was not different from that of former BJP president Bangaro LaxmanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s story, unveiled by tehelka.com or the sex scandal reports of some Hindu priests and bollywood actors, broadcasted by India TV in the past.
The Channel aired for 90 minutes how bribes, in rupees one thousand to five thousands were offered by undercover reporters wearing hidden cameras over a period of six weeks. In return for the Hadya (gift), the Muftis were framed receiving cash to hand out fatwas written in Urdu on issues asked by the reporters. Interestingly some of the accused Muftis never watched TV during 76 years of their lifetime and even they opposed others for doing so on religious grounds, but this accusation ultimately forced them to watch their story on television.
With an unsuccessful aim of highlighting "corruption" in reputed Islamic learning centres the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Star teamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ had instead ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“benaqaabÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ (unmasked) its own conspiracy against ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“madrasasÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ in India. Hired media launched a visibly successful anti-madrasa campaign as a part of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“enduring freedomÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ after the 9/11 in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Now, we believe, it is time for Indian madrasas to face the course because perhaps the mother of all Indian sub continental madrasasÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Darul Uloom Deoband still stands tall here. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œPresent media is under western or Zionist dictateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? a frequent voice among some Muslim circle seems no more negligible. The investigative team was led by Jamshed Khan, a little known journalist who might have been used as tool for his Muslim name.
Other version of the story
The Star group made the ridiculous discovery that the Muftis who provide Muslims with religious rulings on all day-to-day issues are corrupt. It tried to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“faintÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ viewers with question, doubt and infuse anger against Ulama and madrasas. Arab News, the middle east's leading English language daily while reporting the story observes ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œinvestigative journalism at its worstÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? and casts substantial doubts on the authenticity of the operation while detailing parts of other side of the story in its publication on September 30th.
In the second day onwards after the claimed ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“sting operationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of Star news was telecasted, Muslim intellectuals and Urdu press of India started publishing the original story and faked entire episode. All major Urdu dailiesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Inquilab, Rashtriya Sahara, Munsif and Siyasat extensively reported expertsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ views on the issue and questioned authenticity of the Star TV discoveries. It was so strange to notice that English press dubbed the story without a slightest doubtÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? seemingly treated the StarÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s findings as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“revelation from the heavenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, and never tolerated to space press statements from Darul Uloom Deoband, Islamic Fiqh Academy of Delhi and other Muslim organizations or institutions that were directly part of the story in its later publications.
What the accused say?
This writer contacted Shamshad Ahmad (Nadir) Qasmi; an accused on the tape from Delhi based Islamic Fiqh Academy on 18 September and asked him to detail the incidence. He replied, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œYes I did receive rupees five thousand from one Faisal who insisted me to get hadya (gift) on behalf of his leather merchant employer based in kanpur after the questions he asked were repliedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?. Nadir said that he denied the offer at first saying, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI am an employee and I get salary for this serviceÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?. This person along with his two colleagues laughed at him and urged, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œMaulana sahib, this is hadya and you know even Prophet Muhammad (saws) never rejected hadya, please take it, and moreover this is nothing but a show of reverence to Ulama. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAfter repeated appeal from all three men who had visited me three times till 14 May, I agreed to receive the hadya,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? said Nadir. When they asked him how much they should pay, Nadeer said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI was bemused by their apparent innocence about the fact that hadya is not asked or demanded. I informed them about it and then suggested to offer whatever they wishedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?.
Nadir apparently broke down while saying that there was a few hours long meeting with them putting all three meetings together, which was reduced to less then 4 minutes only where only his laughter, counting money and his words like ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI will takeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ moneyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Rupees five thousandÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ yes give whatever you wantÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? were shamelessly broadcasted. He highly objected when I named the Star TV reporters as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“journalistsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and observed, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œthey were spies working under sophisticated global networkÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?, he said.
What Mufti Habibur Rahman has to say?
When I asked Mufti Habibur Rahman, the prime accused of the so-called ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Star operationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, to explain the episode, the 76 years old reputed professor of Darul Uloom Deoband and an experienced expert on Islamic law, replied in seemingly tired rhetoric, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAllah knows why this people are so deceitful?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? He unequivocally explained that he never accepted any paisa (penny) from people who visited him asking Fatwas throughout his 23 years long carrier in Darul Ifta (Faculty of Jurisprudence) of Darul Uloom Deoband. On reconfirmation he angrily rebuked ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œNo, not even hadya (gift) except from my students or people whom I personally knowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?. When asked about the money he was shown putting in his bag on TV footage he replied, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œit was mine, I got in lieu of my books from the bookseller at the time when these people were sitting before me. The amount was handed over to me by an employee from ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Hussainia Kutubkhana,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ I counted the money before them and put it in my bagÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?.
Mufti Habibur Rahman further explained that the middleman shown in the tapeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Maulana Muhammad Imran, asked him in the beginning ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œif Darul Uloom receives any charge for Fatwa?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? which he replied in negative. While they were waiting for their reply sheet to be inscribed on Darul UloomÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s record book and handed over to them, Maulana Imran introduced his companions to Mufti Rahman as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œrich people from DelhiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? and requested ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œhazrat inki taraf se kuch to hadya qabool kar lijeyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? (sir accept from them some money as a gift, please) which he said ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“he rejectedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Mufti Habibur Rahman who never watched television in his lifetime, was extremely upset to notice that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“this also happens in the name of sahafatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ (journalism) on TV Channels. He said that he was certain that those so-called journalists ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“were anti Muslim propagatorsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ who distorted even original text of the fatwa he delivered to them ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“for their vested interestÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
The rational arguments
The program made three allegationsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?firstly, it claimed that it had made a "startling discovery that fatwas... cannot only be easily bought but made-to-order," secondly that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œMuftis accept bribes for delivering fatwas as per questionersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ choiceÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? and thirdly, the channel claims that the Muftis ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œproduced wrong FatwasÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?.
We will try to focus on Mufti Habibur RahmanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s part of the story as the Channel punches Darul Uloom DeobandÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s name as it allegedly tried to make a hole into the reputation and mass respect to the great institution while repeatedly clipping DeobandÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s towering buildings, grand mosques and students in funny pauses.
1. First and most importantly notable aspect of the issue is that the fatwa under discussion was not only misinterpreted, showed out of context, but also it was literally changedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“allowedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“not allowedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?by the channel to give desired twist to the verdict. The original fatwa was, as the archives record in Darul Ifta shows and also ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Eastern CrescentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ has collected the copy, "fi nafsihi credit card ka istemal jaaiz hai magar....." (In itself the use of credit card is allowed but if one defrauds with the card or carelessly avails usury then it would be not allowedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦). The so-called sting operation of the Star group walked over all ethics of journalism and changed the very important phraseÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œjaiz haiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? (allowed) to "na jaiz hai" (not allowed) in the first sentence.
2. The question asked by one Amir bin Javed Haq of Kalkaji, New Delhi on 7 May 2006, whom Star TV claimed one of its undercover operatives, is recorded with reference No. 507 and was replied under reference No. 558 according to the archives book of Darul Ifta clearly invites an unconditional verdict against the use of credit cards. For, the question itself reasons the decision when it states, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWhat do the learned people say about this issue that in our country various banks provide credit cards facility, while in the beginning people are lured to avail the cards and later they have to pay a huge amount as usury. Is transaction of usury and use of credit card allowed in Islam according to Sharia?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? Any person with common understanding of Islamic teachings would certainly replyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?No, it isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t allowed in Islam. But while replying this very question the Muftis of Darul Uloom Deoband happened to be smarter, they were not betrayed by the question and replied accurately saving fair users of the credit cards.
3. Maulana Imran was reading out the alleged original fatwa from Urdu text on the TV footage and he also made deliberate changes in the text. He reads "fi nafsihi credit card ka istemal jaaiz nahi haiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? with criminal addition of a ward ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œnahiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? (not) in the original text, which severely affected the verdict and resulted ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“allowedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“not allowedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Through out the Programme the TV channel repeatedly put on screen Hindi version of the distorted text.
4. The channel claimed to offer Mufti Habibur Rahman rupees five thousand as bribe for the fatwa in five hundred rupee notesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?that means there were only ten notes and not a bundle of notes but interestingly Mufti Rahman was seen on the camera putting a thicker bundle of notes in his bag which will be at least equal to rupees fifty thousand if the notes were of five hundred rupees or ten thousand if they were one hundred rupee notes. After investigation Darul Uloom Deoband confirmed that Mufti Saheb actually bagged rupees six thousand and five hundred with notes of five hundred, one hundred and even ten rupees, handed over by the bookseller at the same day and time and as an evidence it was checked with the booksellerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s daily debit voucher of 7 May 2006.
5. The channel ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“circledÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Mufti Habibur Rahman putting a folded bundle of money in his bag and it was one of the repeated focus points of the story. It failed, on the contrary, to show the actual transaction from both sides as it did with other accused in the tape while it was not a difficult ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“shotÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ because the accused Mufti and all three people from Star team were sitting grounded on carpet; and there was no divider among them except a very small desk (tipayee).
6. The Star channel claimed to buy the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“wrongÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Fatwa as they wished it to be as they claimed to have pre-settled with Mufti Habibur Rahman through middleman. After rechecking the text with various Sharia experts in India and abroad the fact remains that the Fatwa was cent percent in accordance with Islamic teachings and it was an exercise of highest degree of scholarship with wisdom.
7. The natural sunshining background in the tape indicates that when Star TV men visited Darul Uloom, collected fatwa and allegedly handed out money to Mufti Rahman, it was morning hoursÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?pre-noon timeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?and they also stated in the tape that the timing of fatwa deliverance and money transaction was the same as per the their preset game plan. Moreover, Mufti Rahman himself and other staff members in the office also confirmed that these people collected fatwa before 10:30 AM (10:30 AM to 02:00 PM is complete official break time). Notably Azaan (call for prayer) at daytime begins at 1 PMÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?after noonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?in all mosques at Deoband and Faculty of Ifta (Darul Ifta), stationed at ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Qadeem MasjidÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s first floorÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, does not get sunshine inside it when sun changes direction in the after noon hours. Though Azaan is heard in the tape, in morning hours, while those people were inside Darul Ifta. According to Maulana Marghubur Rahman, the rector, as it seems valid, the original sound in the tape must have been tempered with, and the sound of Azaan was added in place of Mufti RahmanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s rejection.
8. The anchor on StarÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“benaqaabÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ roars ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“fatwa about credit card was delivered by Mufti Habibur Rahman of DeobandÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and he also lauds Mufti ZafiruddinÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s name as symbol of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“honestyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ but the unmasked fact is that the fatwa about credit card was delivered by all three main Muftis and it carries simultaneously signatures of Mufti Habibur Rahman, Mufti Zafiruddin and Mufti Mahmoodul Hasan.
9. Mufti Mahmoodul Hasan sits hardly five feet away from Mufti Habibur Rahman in the office who witnessed the visitors were offering Mufti Rahman cash as hadya and on their repeated request he was a bit angry and rejected the offer.
10. And at the end, the main ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“heroÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“benaqaabÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ team Mualana Muhamamd Imran of Meerut whom the Star TV claimed to have borrowed, stated to the Darul Uloom DeobandÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s investigative team and other prominent personalities that Mufti Habibur Rahman never accepted any money, whatsoever, and rejected the offer of hadya as well.
Following the report Darul Uloom Deoband immediately suspended Mufti Habibur Rahman from delivering further fatwas and not dismissed as the Star TV reported. Subsequently an investigation was opened, Maulana Marghubur Rahman, Muhtamim (the rector) of Darul Uloom Deoband, issued a statement later in which he reinstated the Mufti and described the allegations as part of an "organized conspiracy." He also said that the "fatwa issued by the Mufti was in accordance with Shariah," adding that original text of the fatwa "as presented by Star News had been tampered with."
Alumni of Darul Uloom Deoband in Mumbai and other concerned Muslims came out strongly condemning Star Channel for twisting fatwas and misleading viewers by distorting footage to make it appear that decrees had been issued in exchange of money. In a meeting on 22 September they termed entire story of the so-called benaqaab ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œa real ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“benaqaabÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of a big conspiracy against Ulama and reputed Muslim institutions of IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?.
Discussing the issue, Ghulam Muhammad, well known freelancer from Mumbai based think-tank Idraak, on 17 September, said, "Rewarding the Mufti with a gift of cash as a gesture of appreciation and capturing the whole sequence on secret web-camera and presenting it to millions of viewers as a bribe to the Mufti...is the grossest misrepresentation of fact."
A statement issued by the Islamic Fiqh Academy in New Delhi denied the allegations of "Muftis receiving bribes to issue fatwas." It further contends that the journalists who had asked for the fatwas "had insisted that the Muftis take the money as a gift or as a donation for their madarsas after the fatwas were delivered."
Similarly, scholars from the Jamia Arabia Khadimul Islam said that the report of Muftis from that institute accepting money was "false." The rebuttal added "the Muftis delivered their opinions... in writing. After this...the two men tried to offer them money as a gift. The Muftis declined to accept this money as a payment for the fatwas. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ However, after repeatedly insisting the two Muftis took the money and deposited it with the institute and issued receiptsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?.
Likewise, Riyaz Nadvi, secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Dini Talimi Council and leader of the Milli Council, issued a similar statement in newspapers. Nadvi argues, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œGenerally, Muftis do not accept money for delivering fatwas because they consider it their religious duty to answer queries related to Islam and Islamic jurisprudence. Yet...if a Mufti does accept some payment for a fatwa that he gives there is nothing wrong with that, provided his opinion is based on the Qur'an, Hadith and the rules of Islamic jurisprudence." Unanimous view of Muslim scholars also does not negate NadviÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s opinion.
Why media is after fatwas?
The Arab News daily reports that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“dealing with the issue of whether the fatwas were "made-to-order" and contrary to classic Islamic scholarship, a leading Shariah-expert from the UK explained how all of the rulings listed in the report could easily "be positioned somewhere on the wide spectrum of differing opinion among scholars on peripheral issues," and hence casting doubt on the claim that rulings were made-to-order and influenced by unscrupulous motivesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. In fact many Muslims are wondering why the journalists bothered spending so much money. "The thing that baffles me is the fact that these rulings have been mentioned by so many other Muftis before, they aren't new. They can easily be found in fatwa compilations published years ago and are available on the Internet," said Muhammad Akram from Great BritainÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Maulana Marghubur Rahman relates in his latest press statement on the issue released on 25 September that an ongoing court case filed against the concept of Ifta (the issuance of fatwa) at India's Supreme Court. "Darul Uloom Deoband has been made the defendant and a demand has been made to close the Fatwa Department and the teaching of Ifta (Jurisprudence). The case is soon to be heard, the above mentioned plan (referring to the sting-operation) is merely an attempt to influence the case," he said.
What Maulana Marghubur Rahman said could possibly be true. British Muslims have had their fair share of exclusives as Murdoch newspapers in the UK ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ notably the Sun, the News of the World and the Times ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ write about sting operations showing Muslims in a negative light.
For countless years, in spite of protests from level-minded Muslims, the Murdoch propaganda machine has actively vilified British Muslims by presenting the views of obscure and previously little-known "so-called" imams such as Abu Hamza Al-Masri and Omar Bakri Muhammad, the head of the now defunct Al-Muhajiroun group.
It may be the case that the pro-Israeli Murdoch-owned Star TV is attempting to influence politics in India ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ a growing economic world superpower. The unethical investigative journalism practiced by Jamshed Khan echoes that of the British News of the World's investigative reporter Mazhar Mahmood.
Rupert Murdoch once said, "My ventures in media are not as important to me as spreading my personal political beliefs," a quote that truly epitomizes his personal beliefs. It is only in the best interests of Muslims in the world and Islam to understand the challenges of the media.
[A Darul Uloom Deoband graduate and Editor ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Eastern CrescentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, English monthly, M. Burhanuddin Qasmi, a poet is also Director of Mumbai based institute ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Markazul MaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢arif Education and Research CentreÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org]