Darul Uloom Deoband, India's foremost Islamic seminary, on Wednesday denied it had asked Muslim women not to work along with men and said it only suggested that working women should dress “properly.”

“We had only given an opinion based on Sharia that women need to be properly covered in government and private offices,” said Maulana Adnan Munshi, spokesman for the seminary in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

He denied a media report that the seminary was opposed to men and women working together.

“No new fatwa was issued,” Maulana Munshi told IANS on telephone, adding that even the opinion on dress code was given when a Muslim woman desired to know if women could go to work without a ‘purdah' or veil.

“That too is one-and-a-half months old,” he said.

The Deoband institution also denied having issued a ‘fatwa' whereby a husband's dependence on his wife's earnings was declared illegal.

“We have not issued any such ‘fatwa' declaring a woman's financial support to the family as illegal. I fail to understand how such a news was flashed across a section of the media,” Mufti Mohammad Shakeel of the ‘Fatwa' department told IANS over telephone from Deoband.

According to him, the only case where the income of the lady of the house could be treated as ‘haram' or illegal was when the means of her earnings were unlawful.

He stressed that neither had such a fatwa been issued in the past, nor was there any scope for such a ‘fatwa' to be issued in future as it was against the basic spirit of Islam, which believed in equality between man and wife.

“I would not be surprised if someone was misusing the name of this esteemed Deoband institution to paint a distorted picture of the Shariat by projecting such a view,” Mufti Shakeel said.

Maulana Khalid Rasheed, Naib Imam of Lucknow's Idgah who also heads the city's oldest seminary Firangi Mahal, said Islam did not discriminate between men and women.

“There was no question of the tenets of Islam dismissing a women's earnings through legitimate means as illegal. A woman has as much right to contribute financially towards running a family household as her husband,” he said.

But the media report claiming that the Deoband seminary had issued a “fatwa” against working women has led to sharp reactions from leaders and scholars from the Muslim community.

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