It was distressing to see that the Hilal Committee of Bangalore refused to acknowledge the Delhi announcement about moon sighting on January 18th. If there is no unanimity of opinion among the so-called guides of the community i.e., madaris and muftis on such important religious issues, how can then we expect unity and like-mindedness among the common Muslims? And how foolish was it to say that though Eidul Fitr will be celebrated on January 20, the Muslims cannot fast on January 19? Do the ulema understand the gravity of such an announcement? No wonder then if Muslims fought in the mosques of Bangalore, Tumkur and Nanjangud (in Mysore district).
It is time the ulema put their act together and avoided ploughing lonely furrows.
Khaleel Ahmed, Melkote Road, Tumkur (Karnataka)
This refers to your above-captioned editorial in the February issue of the Islamic Voice. I am sure your journal was started with the objectives of educating people about Islam and uniting the community. These objectives will never be served by using your editorials to attack the ulema. The Ulema who have spent a life time in acquiring knowledge may be having some deficiencies but should not be criticised in public as you have done. The ulema are the only link between the common citizens and the Islamic teachings. Editorials such as yours will remove this trust and discredit them. You have done the greatest harm by writing such editorials.
I agree that your editorial represented feelings of the common man. However, you had other avenues. You could have called a meeting of the ulema and discussed the issue. Even criticism could have been possible there. I hope you will be careful and will not succumb to your personal feelings.
Dr. Syed Thanvir Ahmed, Bangalore.
The objective of the mass media is to inform and educate. The function of education includes commenting, criticising and analysing. We will be failing in our duties if we turn away from it. If the Ruyath Hilal committee dominated by ulema shirks from its basic duty of making a decision so crucial to Muslim unity and solidarity, is it not worth educating people about it. After all mass media is meant to comment on public affairs? It is not the case of Islamic Voice making a personal attack on a particular alim or divine. We have highlighted the failure of a body in measuring up to peopleís expectation and have pointed out the lack of sagacity on their part. It is not for a journal to call the meeting of ulema and discuss the issues. Our stand has also been vindicated by the apology tendered by the Ruyath Hilal Committee on its failure to make a timely decision. The apology has been carried by the Urdu dailies in Bangalore. Ours is a mass medium and we must perform the role assigned to us rather than venturing into uncalled for territory. There are other fora that have performed that function and we approve it. Let us not confuse various roles.
Islam does not have, nor approves, clergy or priesthood. Ulema are very much common men and are accountable before Allah and masses. An aggrieved individual is allowed to question them. The second caliph of Islam, Hazrath Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was questioned about the kurta on his person by an individual attending the Jumaah congregation. The person had suspected that Umar had appropriated more cloth from the war booty than was due to him. At this, Umar had to clarify that the kurta could be made only by joining his and his sonís share in the booty. Similarly, a woman admonished Umar against fixing the amount of Mehr (dower) which the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) had allowed to be decided by parties involved in a marriage. This accountability of the Ameer is the very essence of Islamic social and political system. There are no his or her holiness in Islam. Criticism and comment would only make the people at the helms of affairs more responsible and would cleanse the system of its ills. We wish the Ulema could read Islamic Voice as the Urdu media has forfeited its right to criticise them. Let us educate all Muslims and shed the habit of blind loyalty in order that those who are considered leaders do not take the masses for a ride.