A group of Islamic clerics have issued a fatwa banning a prominent teenaged singer of Assam from performing in any public entertainment event but she remained unfazed on Wednesday and said she will never be cowed down.
In the first such edict issued in Assam, the fatwa asked the musical reality TV show Indian Idol junior finalist Nahid Afrin, 16, to stay away from a musical programme, to be held on March 25, claiming the event was ‘against Sharia’.
The diktat was circulated through pamphlets which were widely distributed among public across Hojai and Nagaon districts in central Assam on Tuesday.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal condemned the fatwa and directed police to provide security to the singer.
Sonowal had a telephonic conversation with Nahid and assured her of all steps to ensure her security so that she can continue pursuing her vocation fearlessly and bring laurels to the state.
In a statement, Sonowal said, “Such a ruling against practising art and culture is unacceptable and is tantamount to infringement of one's freedom of cultural rights. Such a move cannot be tolerated in a civilised society.”
Printed in Assamese and carrying names of 46 clerics, organisations and individuals, the leaflets said entertainment events ‘corrupt’ future generations.
The leaflet said, “Magic, dance, drama, theatre, etc are against Sharia laws. Events like musical shows are against Sharia, law and future generations will be corrupted by it.”
‘If anti-Sharia acts like musical nights are held on grounds surrounded by masjids, idgahs, madrassas and graveyards, our future generations will attract the wrath of Allah,’ the pamphlets read.
The Class X student and musical sensation from the state was scheduled to participate in a musical show to be held at Udali Sonai Bibi College in Lanka area of Nagaon district on March 25.
On hearing of the ‘fatwa’, Nahid, who lives in Biswanath Chariali, initially broke down and said, “I am speechless.”
She, however, regained her confidence and composure and told the media on Wednesday, “I think my music is God’s gift to me. I will never bow to it (such warnings) and never leave singing.”
“Being a practising Muslim, I do not believe singing is anti-Islam.”
“My singing is gift of God. I believe it must be properly utilised, not doing so would be ignoring God,” she said, adding, “My father too told me our religious leaders said I can continue singing.”
Taking note of the leaflets, the police said the matter is being investigated.
It is also being ascertained if the fatwa is in reaction to Nahid’s recent songs against terrorism and the Islamic State, said a police officer, adding she and her family would be provided security cover.
Nahid’s mother said the organisers of the March 25 event had told her family that the programme will not be cancelled because of the fatwa.
Nahid had made her Bollywood debut last year singing in the film Akira for Sonakshi Sinha who as a judge in the TV reality show had promised to have the teenager to do playback singing for her in her next movie, her mother said.
Meanwhile, some of those named in the leaflet have denied they are part of the fatwa claiming their names were included without their consent.
Coming out in support of Nahid, several prominent personalities from the minority community, students and ethnic organisations as well as United Liberation Front of Assam faction in peace talks with the Centre, have condemned the fatwa and urged Nahid to continue singing fearlessly.
IMAGE: Singer Nahid Afrin at her residence on Wednesday. Photograph: PTI Photo