By issuing a decree that singing is un-Islamic (following which ‘Pragaash,’ the all-girl rock band of the Kashmir Valley has reportedly decided to quit singing), the Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir, Bashiruddin Ahmad, has ignored the fact that some of the best music composers and vocal artists in the Indian sub-continent are Muslims, highly revered. Music is not meant for pleasure alone; it also makes one feel peaceful.

When the entire nation is waging a struggle for gender equality, some anti-progressive elements continue to confine women to their ‘roles’ as they see it. The best way to lend support to the budding artists of the Valley is to listen to their music.

Akriti Mattu, Shimla

Hate campaigns and threats received by the group on social networking sites and the Mufti’s religious decree bring to the fore the gender bias cultivated through narrow interpretations of religion and redundant traditions. If music is prohibited in Islam, how come our boys perform everywhere?

Some people have blamed westernisation for the controversy. Does giving expression to talent amount to westernisation? What about Raj Begum, Shameema Azad, and all other women singers whose melodious voices have decorated the rich verses of our great poets? If laws and decrees are obsolete, amend them for space, time and context. Don’t quote them to justify your conservative mindset, your outdated customs and traditions, your false constructions of honour and dignity.

Aijaz Hussain Malik, New Delhi

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