Indian Muslim cleric says women watching football un-Islamic

Saudi Arabia allowed women in to watch matches in football stadiums earlier this month. (AFP)
Updated 30 January 2018

Indian Muslim cleric says women watching football un-Islamic

LUCKNOW, India: A senior cleric at an influential Islamic seminary in northern India has issued a religious decree saying that Muslim women should not watch men playing soccer.
Mufti Athar Kasmi said that watching men “playing with bare knees” violated the tenets of Islam and was forbidden for women. Kasmi is cleric at Darul Uloom, Asia’s largest Sunni Muslim seminary in the northern town of Deoband.
The cleric also lashed out at the men who allow their wives to watch football even on television.
“Do you have no shame? Do you not fear God? You let her watch these kinds of things,” he said in his sermon Friday.
Kasmi’s decree comes even as the Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia allowed women in to watch matches in soccer stadiums earlier this month.
“Why do women need to watch these football matches? What they will gain by looking at footballer’s thighs. Their attention will be on that only and they will even miss the scores,” Kasmi said.
Darul Uloom, located in Uttar Pradesh state, is a more than 150-year-old seminary that teaches Sunni Hanafi jurisprudence. The Islamic seminary’s rigid interpretation of Islam is the ideological foundation for many hardline religious groups including the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.
About 13 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people are Muslim and the majority of them are Sunni but the country’s secular constitution ensures that decrees such as Kasmi’s have no legal force.
On Tuesday a Muslim women’s rights activist in the northern city of Lucknow decried the decree.
“It implies that Muslim women should not watch any athletic event, tennis matches or swimming championships. How it can be immoral for a woman to watch men playing sport?” Sahira Nasih said.
Recently the seminary issued a fatwa asking Muslim women not to visit beauty salons or wear tight clothing.


Orange is the new grey for Bangladesh beards

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on January 24, 2019 shows men with henna-dyed beards in Dhaka on December 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

Orange is the new grey for Bangladesh beards

  • It is now virtually impossible to walk down a street in a Bangladesh city without seeing a colored beard

DHAKA, BANGLADESH: From shades of startling red to hues of vivid tangerine, brightly colored beards have become a fashion statement on the streets of Bangladesh capital Dhaka.
Facial hair of sunset tones is now the go-to look for older men wanting to take off the years, with an array of henna options available to the style-conscious.
“I have been using it on my hair for the last two months. I like it,” says Mahbubul Bashar, in his 50s, whose smile reflected his joy at his new look.
Abul Mia, a 60-year-old porter at a local vegetable market, agrees that the vibrant coloring can be transformative.
“I love it. My family says I look a lot younger and handsome,” he adds.
While henna has been used widely in the country for decades, it has reached new heights of popularity. It is now virtually impossible to walk down a street in a Bangladesh city without seeing a colored beard.
Orange hair — whether it’s beards, moustaches or on heads — is everywhere, thanks to the popularity of the colored dye produced by the flowering henna plant.
“Putting henna on has become a fashion choice in recent years for elder men,” confirms Didarul Dipu, head fashion journalist at Canvas magazine.
“The powder is easily found in neighborhood stores and easy to put on,” he adds.
But the quest for youth is not the only reason why more and more Dhaka barbers are adding beard and hair coloring to their services.
Top imams also increasingly use henna powder color in what experts say is a move to prove their Muslim credentials as some religious texts say the prophet Mohammed dyed his hair.
In Bangladesh most of the population of 168 million is Muslim.
“I heard from clerics that the prophet Mohammed used henna on his beard. I am just following,” says Dhaka resident Abu Taher.

Henna has long been a tradition at South Asian weddings. Brides and grooms use henna paste to trace intricate patterns on their hands for wedding parties.
It has also long been used in Muslim communities in Asia and the Middle East for beards.
Previously, aficionados created the dye by crushing henna leaves to form a paste. It was messy and time-consuming but modern henna powder is far more user-friendly.
Taher, who goes by one name, believes the dye has given his beard added vigour.
“Look at this growth. Isn’t it strong?” he exclaims pointing to his chin.
“The powder turns the grey hair red but does not change the remaining black hair,” he explains.
Some believe henna powder has health benefits and, as it is natural rather than created using man-made chemicals like some dyes, does not cause any medical issues.
The new trend has also boosted barbers’ fortunes — more men feel compelled to dye their hair and to do it more often at the salons.
“In the past we hardly would get any customers for this,” recalls Shuvo Das, who works at the Mahin Hairdressers in Dhaka’s Shaheenbagh neighborhood.
“But now there are clients who come every week to get their beard dyed,” he says.
“It takes about 40 minutes to make the beard reddish and shiny. It is also cheap. A pack cost only 15 taka (four US cents),” Das explains as he massages the dye mixture — imported from India — into a customer’s beard.
According to Dhaka University sociology professor Monirul Islam Khan, the growing number of henna beards “is a sign of increasing Muslim fervor in Bangladeshi society.”
But, he adds, even those who are not strict followers do it.
He explains: “They want to look younger. Even the women are getting fond of it as it makes their hair glitter.”