The fatwa (religious decree ) issued by the Lucknow-based Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema declaring “roza Iftar” parties hosted by political parties as “un-Islamic” has been rendered virtually irrelevant by them in their quest to showcase their Muslim support base.

On Tuesday, the Samajwadi Party president and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh, hosted an Iftar party at the party headquarters here. A similar party had been hosted by the “Muslim face” of the Mayawati Government, the PWD and Irrigation Minister, Naseemuddin Siddiqui, at his official residence on September 6. The Congress Party’s Iftar party is scheduled to be held at the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters on September 14.

The fatwa was issued by Darul Ifta of Nadwatul Ulema on August 18, a few days before the beginning of the holy month of Ramadhan, on a query by a retired army personnel. In the fatwa, Maulvi Zahoor Ahmed of Darul Ifta said that the Iftar parties by political parties were “ghair Islami” ( un-Islamic) and did not a such serve any religious purpose.

Ever since the practice was initiated by the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, in the seventies, roza Iftar parties have become the medium for wooing the minority community. The mainstream political parties have used these parties to flaunt their Muslim support base, as well as their secular credentials. Iftar parties have also been hosted by the State Chief Ministers, including those of the Bharatiya Janata Party, like Kalyan Singh.

Though there has been no unanimity among the religious leaders on the issue, which has been left to individual preferences, the “political” divide is quite evident. The religious leaders, who have been won over by the ruling party of the day have made it a point not to attend the roza Iftar hosted by Opposition leaders. Thus, while the Naib Imam of Lucknow’s Aishbagh Idgah and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board member, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali and the Imam-i -Juma of Asafi mosque and noted Shia cleric, Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, were present in the BSP’s Iftar party at Mr. Siddiqui’s residence, they stayed away from Mulayam’s Iftar.

Maulana Khalid Rasheed, however, preferred to play it safe by sending his representative, Maulana Mushtaq, to Mulayam’s Iftar party.

When Mr. Mulayam Singh was in power, Maulana Khalid Rasheed and Maulana Jawwad, as well as the vice-chairman of Muslim Personal Law Board, Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, were close to him. They switched sides after the BSP came to power in the State.

“All the important clerics like Maulana Rasheed , Maulana Hameedul Hasan and those in the Nadwatul Ulema would be invited for the roza Iftar on September 14 and the UPCC president, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, is likely to personally invite them for the gathering,” said Subodh Srivastava, the chief spokesperson of UP Congress.

Keywords: Lalu PrasadIftarRamzanRamadan