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    Volume 9 Issue 10| March 5, 2010|

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A Twist of Faith
Thank you for the article 'Crime in the name of Belief' - a thorough article which communicated clearly both the wisdom of the real scholars of Islam and the damage done by those who act - wrongly - in the name of Islam - using the fatwa.
In my opinion the words and wisdom of the real scholars of Islam are not quoted often enough to help those who look at the state of the world and wish to be 'more religious' and can, so easily, go off in the wrong direction. We have people like that in every religion.
Please do a great deal more to see that the Daily Star is in the forefront of the reporting on what the Top People in Islam are advising. The fact that Islamic experts are saying that the usual village Imam does not have the level of Islamic education that is necessary to proclaim a fatwa - which needs someone highly educated if it is to be used in the correct way - deserves a much wider circulation!
Angela Robinson


Your cover story on fatwa “Crime in the Name of Belief” mistakenly suggests that fatwa started in this region during colonial times. In fact, fatwa has always been a part of Islamic jurisprudence. A fatwa is a religious opinion issued by a person with extensive knowledge of Islamic law and its application in contemporary life. Westerners have come to be confused about the precise meaning of a fatwa, thanks to the politicisation of the term by extremist activists and organisations. Fatwa can in fact govern everything from whether or not it is appropriate for travelers to shorten their prayers to the best way to resolve a dispute between neighbours.
Fatwa are not considered to be legally binding, which is a very important point. Muslims who request a fatwa about an issue of concern may seek out a second opinion or even ignore the fatwa, especially if they feel that it contradicts the spirit of Muslim law and life.
There are strict rules about who is eligible to issue a valid fatwa, as well as about the conditions the fatwa must satisfy to be valid.
According to the usul al-fiqh (principles of jurisprudence), the fatwa must meet the following conditions:
The fatwa is in line with relevant legal proofs, deduced from Qur'anic verses and hadith; provided the hadith was not later abrogated by the Prophet.
It is issued by a person (or a board) having due knowledge of fiqh and sincerity of heart; It is free from individual opportunism, and not dependent on political servitude; It is adequate with the needs of the contemporary world.
These days we see ignorant village Mullahs issuing so-called fatwas -- this is a blatant abuse. Often these acts have local and political bias, as we saw in the case of the rape in Kalapara, Patuakhali where “village arbitration” allowed 10 Chhatra League men to escape. So instead of attacking fatwa itself, we must ensure that abuse in the name of fatwa and religion is stopped immediately.
Md. Abu Jafar
Jashimuddin Road
Uttara, Dhaka

Border Shootings

The Indian Border Security Force (BSF) has been killing Bangladeshis living near the border almost on a daily basis. BSF and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) traded over 300 gunshots on Sripur and Jaintapur borders in Sylhet recently after Indian villagers supported by BSF crossed into Bangladeshi territory to illegally seize fish from a lake.
The Bangladesh government has had a good relationship with India. Through the prime minister's visit to India this relationship has been further strengthened. But if this is so, why is the reality on the ground so different? Although Bangladesh has passed 39 years after its independence, border tension remains a threat. Often, BSF intrudes illegally and open fires without any provocation.
Furthermore, after the incident of BDR tragedy, Bangladesh borders are almost open and illegal activities such as smuggling of goods and human trafficking are increasing along the border.
According to statistics of Odhikar, a Bangladeshi organisation that monitors human rights violations, between 01 January 2000 and 10 July 2009 a total of 789 Bangladeshi citizens were reportedly killed by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF), 846 were injured while 895 were abducted. Often, BSF takes the bodies away after shooting dead, Bangladeshi villagers.
It is totally against human rights and human decency. BSF of India must stop the indiscriminate killings of innocent Bangladeshi civilians. It is up to both countries' governments to take appropriate steps to resolve the matter as soon as possible to ensure peace on the border. Otherwise, the relationship between the two neighbours may suffer.
Mohammed Jamal Uddin
313, Mohammedpur
Panchlish, Chittagong

Observing Ekushey
Each year February 21 is observed with great solemnity since it gave us our identity as Bengalis, in exchange for the valuable lives of the martyrs. But will this day continue to be observed only by bestowing flowers in the Shahid Minar, without efforts towards a peaceful and oppression-free Bangladesh? Sadly, political clashes continued even on this day resulting in the death of one of the supporters of BNP, Shah Alam of Shonaimuri. Moreover, a young woman, a student of Dhaka University, became the victim of Bangladesh Chhatra League cadres. She was heinously abused and heavily beaten, along with her family members, when they were about to place a wreath at the Shahid Minar. It proves that the political leaders have hardly any feelings for the martyrs.
Zeenia Hossain
Department of Law, IIU, Chittagong


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