Renowned Islamic seminary Darul Uloom, Deoband, has issued a fatwa prohibiting girls aged 13 and above from riding bicycles. Clerics and educationists termed the edict “ridiculous” and “impractical”.
Mufti Arshad Faruqui, chairman of the Darul Uloom fatwa department, told reporters on Friday that the edict was in keeping with the ideals of Islam. “When a grown-up girl goes cycling outside her house, it is bound to result in bepardagi [undue exposure],” he said. “Even medical science has given us evidence to believe that cycling is not good for adolescent girls, physically,” he said. “Apart from affecting their feminity, it is harmful for their body structure,” he said.
However, clerics feel otherwise. “Fatwas such as this are ridiculous,” Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, Lucknow’s ‘naib imam’, said. “Muftis should desist from issuing such impractical advice,” he said. “Some maulanas and muftis seem bent becoming laughing stocks. They should act with more gravity,” Maulana Yasoob Abbas, general secretary, All India Shia Muslim Personal Law Board, said.
Former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha Verma dubbed fatwas retrogressive. “In times when we have women pilots and army officers, stopping girls from riding bicycles is bizarre and unreasonable,” she said.