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Muslim priest bans music in marriages

Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai | February 14, 2004 10:57 IST

At 38, Zafar Ahmed, the imam of Juma Masjid, Cheetah Camp looks like any other preacher working for a masjid in  suburban Mumbai.

However, he has clout that very few imams can boast off in the metropolis. Reason? He gave a call six months ago to ban music in Muslim marriages in the Cheetah Camp area. Other maulvis in the area have also issued similar fatwas though they are from different sects of Islam, -- Deobandi, Barelvi, Shahfi and Al Hadees.

Result: For the last six months, music has been absent at all Muslim marriages in the area and no one is complaining.

Cheetah Camp is located in northeastern Mumbai and has a population of around 150,000 people, nearly 80 per cent of who are Muslims working as either artisans or daily wage workers.

"We found that our Muslim brethren were creating too much of noise by playing music on loudspeakers. This is un-Islamic and at the same time disturbs the entire neighbourhood. So we issued a fatwa stating that maulvis from our area won't conduct Muslim marriages if they play music," says Ahmed.

Embroidery worker Riyaz Patel says, "I never knew that Islam prohibits music in marriage. Ever since I came to know, I have instructed all my relatives not to have music at their marriages as it is un-Islamic. My son was married two months ago and I didn't find anything wrong when no music was played. In fact, the ambience was excellent. Everybody liked the way the marriage was conducted."

Asked didn't he feel that this was Talibanisation and a threat to Muslims who want to celebrate their marriages with music, Ahmed says, "We are not like the Taliban. We are not boycotting such families socially. We only boycott their marriages. This is mentioned in our hadith and shariah (Islamic law) that music should be not played during marriages, which are supposed to be very simple affairs and without wasteful expenditure. So, we are only propagating the view of our religion."

A staunch follower of the Deobandi school of thought, which does not believe in playing music or watching television, Ahmed has never watched television and prevents his six children also from doing so.

"Why does a man like me need television? What will I achieve? I am a follower of God and I don't believe in watching things, which will serve no purpose for me," he says.

However, Ahmed believes the media has blown their diktat out of proportion and is misreporting the entire event.

"They wrote that we are giving instructions like Al Qaeda to our Muslim brothers. This is not true. The change at the ground level has been tremendous in the last six months ever since the ban was imposed. We have small lanes and bylanes in our area. The houses are very close to each other. People don't quarrel with their neighbours at the time of weddings as they used to do earlier. So in our locality is peaceful during weddings," he adds.


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