Indian cleric issues decree against women watching football
By Bimbo Ogunnaike
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 football.
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 Saudi Arabia allowed women in to watch matches in football 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.
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.