Mufti Habibur Rahman of Darul-Ifta, the “Fatwa Department” of Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband
Indian Islam is often touted as a paragon of liberal, enlightened Islamic modernism.
Pace this trope, Indian journalist par excellence Arun Shourie observed in his brilliant 1995 analysis, The World of Fatwas or the Shariah in Action, the stultifying and dangerous living legacy of the Islamic doctrine being imparted by the orthodox Muslim religious establishment of his native India, and repeated throughout the Muslim world.
Shourie catalogued and summarized the endless outpouring of absurd, discriminatory, and belligerent fatwas—formal Islamic legal rulings compatible with the Muslim creed’s totalitarian “divine” law, or Sharia—issued by India’s most respected Islamic teaching institutions, and covering the gamut of an individual Muslim’s, and the Muslim community’s, daily life.
It is of the very essence of a totalitarian ideology that it enforces its right to regulate the totality of life. The Koran, the Hadith, the fatwas represent one continuous endeavor in this respect: they aim at controlling every single aspect of life…
Sadly, the irredentists among mainstream Indian Islam’s clerical hierarchy whom Shourie decried, still hold forth, as evidenced by a fatwa just issued by Darul-Ifta, the fatwa department of leading Sunni Islamic seminary Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband. The juristic luminaries of Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband have just replied to a query by a man who had asked that in case no witness was present when he utters talaq thrice to his wife via cellphone—announcing “I divorce you”—whether such an Islamic “divorce” would be considered valid, or not.
The male “petitioner’s” query regarded the following scenario:
I angrily said talaq three times to my wife on cell phone but she claimed that she didn’t hear it even once and nobody was around both of us. Please tell me whether talaq has taken place.
Dar-ul-Ifta’s modernist Indian Islam fatwa experts replied in their eminent opinion, fully demonstrating just how much Sharia elevates a Muslim women’s stature, that,
If you have given three talaqs to your wife, all the three took place and she became haram (forbidden) for you. It is not necessary for talaq to take place that the wife hears it or the witnesses are present.
The ongoing, profound influence of Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband and its “fatwa department” validate what Shourie concluded about the Indian political and religious elites, both Hindu and Muslim, who continue to sanction the “moderation” of such unabashed Islamic obscurantism:
[W]e must expose, and work to thwart concessions by our opportunist politicians which are meant to appease, and will in the end strengthen the grip of these reactionary elements…