It was issued after a man approached them recently and asked whether posting photos on social media sites was allowed in the religion.
The recent ruling by an Islamic school banning Indian Muslims from sharing their photographs online is facing difficulty finding its feet in the Internet age.
The Supreme Court’s decision of banning the practice of triple talaq among Indian Muslims was witness to a new dawn of societal reforms in the country. However, the recent fatwa issued by the Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur, prohibiting Muslim men and women from posting their own or their families’ photographs on social media sites, proves that the battle is far from over.
In the fatwa, one of the largest Islamic seminaries in India has said that posting photos of self or family on social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram among others is not allowed in Islam. It was issued after a man approached them recently and asked whether posting photos on social media sites was allowed in the religion.
However, one wonders, in a world where social media plays such an important role in people’s lives as well as business and marketing, is there a place for such fatwas? Abbas Azharuddin, son of Indian cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin, feels that releasing a fatwa on such things makes no sense at all. “Social media can be used in a good way. Personally, I feel that there is no harm in posting personal pictures of oneself and family if it is not vulgar. Also, I don’t think anyone follows it. So I don’t understand the meaning of putting restrictions on such things,” he says.
Reciprocating this thought, stylist Ayesha A.K. says, “Having been brought up in a Muslim family, I wear a hijab wherever I go. However, as a stylist, I market a lot of my work on social media, for which I do photo shoots without a hijab. So,I feel it’s one’s personal choice.”
Reasoning that things written in a religious text may be interpreted differently by different scholars, she adds, “Two conflicting thoughts can co-exist in a society. We are evolving as a nation and if someone is trying to pull the people back, then they are not thinking of the nation’s development.”
Another point to be considered here is the legality of such fatwas. Designer Shehla Khan points out, “Many times people want the world to function according to their beliefs; however, that is not how it works. I don’t think such things have any legal basis. So such things don’t affect me as I choose not to believe in them.”
Syeda Falak, popular Indian karate athlete, says, “I think it all depends on what you post, how do you see it and think about it. I am a sports player, so I attend international tournaments, award ceremonies, felicitations, etc. According to me, it’s alright to upload photos of such events because they are all official photos. Also, a lot depends on the kind of clothes you wear in those photos that you post. It should be decent enough to upload. But if you are uploading photos of modelling, ramp walk or something glamorous, then I guess you need to reconsider before posting,” she opines.
On the other hand, celebrity hairstylist Aasif Ahmed cannot stop posting photographs on social media as it is one of the most important parts of his work. “I am a liberal person and I grew up without a religion — my father is a Hindu and my mother is a Muslim. It didn’t really matter if I was being a good Hindu or a Muslim because my family always taught me to be a good human being first and then follow a religion,” he shares and adds, “Posting pictures of my work on social media sites is my business module — it helps in promoting and distributing my work.
Asif adds, “I have to display my work to get more business. And that goes for any kind of business, whether it is a part of the film industry or not.”
Well, times are changing and people should also change, is what actress Shamna Kasim, best known as Poorna, believes. She adds, “My fans follow me on social media for my updates, so naturally, I post pictures. In fact, even today’s college girls constantly keep posting photos on social media and see how many likes they get. So the mindset is changing and people are also evolving. In the Internet age, how can you be without posting photos? I, too, recently started posting constantly. I believe talent and art are something beyond religion.”
Though cinematographer Nizar Shafi, agrees that he follows the “diktats of Islam”, he believes in people’s freedom as well. “I am a religious man. However, I am also a believer in people’s freedom and think people should be allowed to do what they like. For instance, I was told by a few that cinema is haram, and that I should let go of it. I chose to go ahead anyway. Likewise, with women posting their pictures on social media! I wouldn’t mind if my mother, wife, friend or now, my newly-born daughter wants to post her pictures on social media. In fact, I find it ridiculous that someone would find something this petty to be un-Islamic. Every religion’s aim is to give its followers a peaceful and harmonious life, and giving such small issues such significance and making it seem like an important part of the religion just trivialises the belief as a whole,” he says.
Clearly, while most people are not taking the fatwa seriously or following it to a T, it is definitely receiving flak and criticism from followers and non-followers of Islam and other religions alike.