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Assamese clerics should learn truth about music from Naseeruddin Shah's Khuda Kay Liye

The plight of Nahid Afrin reminds us of the classic scene from the Pakistani film in which Shah's character expounds on Islam.

Mayur Lookhar

The fatwa slapped on 16-year-old Indian Idol Junior finalist Nahid Afrin begs the question: is music un-Islamic? The fatwa against Afrin was issued by 46 clerics in Assam for singing songs deriding terrorism. The religious fanatics deemed singing and dancing un-Islamic.

Afrin, however, has found support among the liberals, including Muslims, and refused to bow to the pressure of fundamentalists.

The fatwa against Afrin brought to mind Naseeruddin Shah’s classic cameo from the Pakistani film Khuda Kay Liye (2007). Directed by Shoaib Mansoor, Khuda Kay Liye also starred Fawad Khan. The film was about the young Sarmad (Khan) who gets influenced by a radical mullah (religious preacher) and gives up on his musical career. Sarmad is forced to marry his cousin Mary, a Britain-born Pakistani, and he forces her to adapt to his conservative cultural lifestyle.

Mary drags her father and husband to court. The radicals claim music and Western clothes and lifestyle are un-Islamic. The court seeks views from Wali (Shah), an Islamic scholar, who explains that music is not un-Islamic and that radicals only try to push their agenda of hatred through such restrictions.

Wali cited the example of David, known in the Quran as Dawood, to whom Allah gave the gift of singing. Dawood served the almighty with his singing. Wali asked if music was unholy then why would Allah create music and bestow such a gift on Dawood.

Much of this sequence is in chaste Urdu, but the message sent out by Wali is loud and clear. Are the clerics listening?