“We can function only within the boundaries of Islamic rules, which are not man-made. Public venues have certain norms,” Samastha Kerala Jem’iyyathul Ulema president Sayyid Muhammad Jifri Muthukkoya Thangal said on Saturday.
Earlier this week, at a madrassa function in Malappuram, Islamic scholar M T Abdulla Musaliyar publicly scolded the organisers after they invited a girl, a Class X student, to the stage for receiving an award. Subsequently, one of the organisers assured the cleric that it would not be repeated.
“The cleric had no intention to insult the girl. He wanted to avoid a situation in which girls may feel shy about stepping on to a stage occupied by clerics. When the cleric looked at the face of the girl, he felt that she was nervous. It is quite natural that women feel shy when they come to a venue occupied by men. Hence, he wanted to avoid such an embarrassing situation for other girls waiting to receive the award and scolded the organiser,” said Muthukoya Thangal.
Abdulla Musaliyar, who addressed the media, also justified his action. “Islam does not allow women to mingle with men. There should be a curtain between women and men. Women can enjoy everything, watch everything from beyond that curtain,” said Musaliyar, who is a senior functionary of Samastha Kerala Sunni Vidyabhyasa Board, which regulates madrassa education in Kerala.
Muthukoya Thangal said neither the girl nor her family had any complaint about the incident. “We don’t promote any fundamentalism and extremism,” he said.
The incident evoked widespread protest on social media, prompting Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan to say that he was “disappointed” by the silence of the political and social leadership of the country on the issue.
The State Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights had registered a suo motu case and sought a report from the district officer in Malappuram on the incident.
During the inauguration of a madrassa building at Ramapuram in Malappuram district, one of the organisers called Mashida P V on stage to receive an award. The dais had several Muslims scholars, including Abdulla Musaliyar. After Indian Union Muslim League leader Panakkad Sayed Abbas Ali Shihab Thangal handed over a memento to the girl, Musaliyar turned against one of the organisers. “Who told you to invite the tenth standard girl to the stage…If you call (such girls) again…. I will show you…Don’t call such girls to here… Don’t you know the decision of Samastha? Did you call her…Please ask the parent to come to the stage” the Musaliyar said.