A leading Islamic leader in India issued a religious ruling that watching soccer should be forbidden for women, since it involves men “playing with bare knees.”
Mufti Athar Kasmi, a cleric at the largest Sunni seminary in Asia, said that the opposite sex watching such alleged immodesty violates Islamic law, and he therefore issued a fatwah, or official Islamic ruling, forbidding women to do so, according to the Associated Press. Kasmi also condemned any husbands who allow their wives of fathers who allow their daughters to watch soccer, or any other such sport that involves men with uncovered legs.
“Do you have no shame? Do you not fear God? You let her watch these kinds of things,” Kasmi said during a Friday sermon, according to the AP.
“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 added.
Kasmi issued the fatwah in direct defiance of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which allowed women to enter the Riyadh, the country’s national stadium, for the first time to watch a soccer match from a designated “family” seating area earlier in January.
Sahira Nasih, a women’s rights activist in the Indian town of Lucknow, denounced Kasmi’s fatwah on Tuesday as unreasonable.
“It implies that Muslim women should not watch any athletic event, tennis matches or swimming championships,” Nasih said, according to the AP. “How it can be immoral for a woman to watch men playing sport?”
Darul Uloom, the Sunni seminary in which Kasmi teaches, is the birthplace of the Deobandi Islamic movement and adheres to the Hanafi Sunni interpretation of Sharia. The Hanafi Sunni jurisprudence and the the seminary’s Salafist Islamic teachings are popular with the Afghani Taliban and widely practiced in Pakistan, according to the AP.
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