Minister Khurshid alias Firoz Ahmad chanted the slogan outside the Bihar assembly after chief minister Nitish Kumar won the trust vote he faced after breaking ties with the RJD-Congress alliance.
A Muslim cleric on Sunday issued a “fatwa” against newly appointed Bihar minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Khurshid alias Firoz Ahmad for chanting Jai Shri Ram, saying his marriage would be terminated for his “mistake”.
An MLA from Sikta in West Champaran, Ahmad shouted the slogan, normally associated with BJP supporters, outside the Bihar assembly on Friday after chief minister Nitish Kumar won the trust vote he faced after breaking ties with the RJD-Congress alliance and joining hands with the BJP.
The fatwa, or a decree, against the only Muslim minister in Kumar’s new cabinet was issued by Mufti Sohail Quasmi of Imarat Shariah, which describes itself as a socio-religious organisation active in Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha.
“Islam teaches respect for all religions. If by saying Jai Shri Ram I can do some good for the Muslims, why is there such a hue and cry,” Ahmad, who has been given charge of minority welfare and sugarcane industries, told mediapersons.
He would not be cowed down by such threats, he said.
The minister later apologised for his statement, while talking to a TV channel.
“The CM told me if anybody felt hurt by my statement, I should apologise. My intention was not to hurt anyone. I have come to serve the people. My statement was distorted,” he told the channel after coming out of a review meeting of the minority welfare department with chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Upset over the slogan hailing Hindu god Ram, Quasmi said Ahmad’s marriage would be terminated and he would have to perform the nikah again after accepting his “mistake”.
Imarat Shariah general secretary Anisurrehman said the organisation had not issued a fatwa but it could be a personal opinion of Quasmi.
“I have not talked to him. I will try to find out what made him speak like this,” he said.
HT tried to reach Quasmi for comments but his phone was switched off.
“A Muslim is honest to his conscience. What wrong have I done? I have not divorced my wife. I don’t know how the fatwa was issued and for what,” said the minister.
The BJP came out in his defence. “Any fatwa on such issues is against the spirit and rich tradition of India, which has always epitomised diversity and respect for each other’s religion,” Bihar BJP spokesman Azfar Shamshi said.
Ahmad had taken forward the Indian tradition while the fatwa was against it. “The days are gone when Muslims were waylaid on sentimental issues. Now, they want solutions to their core issues,” he said.
Bihar minister Firoz Ahmad apologizes
NEW DELHI: Bihar minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Khurshid alias Firoz Ahmad on Sunday apologized after a Muslim cleric issued a “fatwa” against him for chanting “Jai Shri Ram”.
“The CM (Nitish Kumar) told me if anybody felt hurt by my statement, I should apologise. My intention was not to hurt anyone. I have come to serve the people. My statement was distorted,” Ahmad said, adding,”I didn’t abuse anyone.”
Talking about the fatwa, he said that as far as the fatwa is concerned no one talked to him about it first and “decided” everything on their own.
Earlier in the day, Mufti Sohail Quasmi of Imarat Shariah issued a fatwa, or a decree, against the only Muslim minister in Nitish Kumar’s new cabinet. Imarat Shariah describes itself as a socio-religious organisation active in Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha.
The Muslim MLA was warned that “his marriage would be terminated for the mistake”.
Reacting to the fatwa, the Muslim Bihar MLA had affirmed that he stands firm on his words, as he believes in humanity and serving people of Bihar.
“If saying ‘Jai Shri Ram’ is important for the country, then I wouldn’t stop myself from saying it. I was not just elected to serve the Muslim community. My duty is to serve the public of Bihar, irrespective of their cast, creed and religion”, Ahmad was quoted as saying by ANI.
Ahmad had asserted that his religion cannot be questioned based on the phrase “Jai Shri Ram”.