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Muslims divided over insurance fatwa

Last updated on: August 31, 2006 17:11 IST
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After raking up several controversies in the recent past over the religious decree, a new fatwa issued by Darul-Uloom Deoband asking Muslims not to go for life insurance has vertically divided the community.

The fatwa was issued early this month following a query from one Saleem Chisti, a resident of Lucknow.

The majority Sunnis have justified the fatwa calling life insurance as 'Gair munaasib.' However, they do not categorically call it 'haram' (illegal) as suggested by the Islamic seminary. Shias, on the other hand, have rejected the fatwa calling it as 'non issue' for their community that is 'uncalled for' and not binding on them.

Hafeez Nomani, a devout Deobandi Sunni Muslim and son of late Maulana Nomani, co-founder of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, has condemned the fatwa. "It (fatwa) is unwarranted and a most regressive step by the Ulemas who seem to have no understanding of the rapid changes taking place around the globe," he said.

"Ulemas have a wont to retreat after being offensive on flimsy issues, it is the same story from pasting of photograph on Haj application form to the life insurance," he added.

"The Deobandi ulemas must understand that we are a secular polity and they should not issue any edict, which cannot be binding on citizen unless duly legislated by the elected government in our democratic country," he said, adding that the recent fatwa is nothing but an veiled attack on the secular order of India that only underlines the obstinate attitude of the clergy.

Earlier, Ulemas had opened front against the government opposing pasting of the photograph on the application for the Haj pilgrimage submitted to the Haj committee, but later they agreed, he said.

The Ulemas soon found another issue against the government over the pasting of women's photograph in the Haj application form. Much hue and cry was made but later they accepted this as well and now they have invented the issue of life insurance, he added.

AIMPLB member Zafaryab Jilani said the issue of insurance, including the life insurance, is still under Ulemas' consideration and consensual decision is yet to be reached.

Darul Uloom Deoband, one of north India's biggest Muslim seminaries, has issued a fatwa or edict asking Muslims not to go for life insurance as the interest earned through insurance policies is illegal according to the Shariat. Muslims should not go for life insurance policies as 'life' is given by Allah and to insure it or assure it is a crime in the eyes God, the Sunni seminary had said.

The fatwa issued by Darul Ifta, the supreme body of Deoband authorised to issue religious decrees, said interest earned on bank deposits and insurance policies are illegal as per the Shariat. "A true Muslim should never ever go for life insurance policies as this is against the wishes of Allah," Maulana Shahid Rehan, an office-bearer of Deoband said from Deoband.

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