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Cell Phones Fatwa Invites India Uproar

Published: 01/01/2013 01:18:10 PM GMT
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CAIRO - A new fatwa by a leading Islamic seminary banning the use of multimedia cell phones on its campus is inviting uproar over the right of students to get access to advanced technology.“Such features (cameras and video (more)

CAIRO - A new fatwa by a leading Islamic seminary banning the use of multimedia cell phones on its campus is inviting uproar over the right of students to get access to advanced technology.

“Such features (cameras and videos) cause an adverse effect on academics,” Maulana Abdul Khalik, deputy vice-chancellor of Asia's leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband (DuD), told Times of India on Tuesday, January 1.“We've cautioned students from whom such cellphones were seized. Next time, strong disciplinary action would be taken against erring students.”

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The issue came to light Sunday after 14 mobile phones with cameras and internet access were seized from students.

The seizure followed earlier warnings to students over reports that they were misusing multi-media cell phones for purposes which were not morally acceptable.

Abdul Khalik argued that students were allowed to use simple handsets without camera or video features because these features were causing an adverse effect on academics.

The ban does not include personal laptops.

“But even if they are found misusing them, similar action will follow against them,” a Deoband source said.

The source dismissed accusations that the ban would deprive students of access to the outside world.

“The faculty provides Internet access to the students who are free to use it as and when they want to,” he said.

“Hence there was no restriction over students gaining access to the information technology in any way.”

Founded by a group of Indian scholars in 1857 CE, the Deoband is the most influential Muslim intellectual school of thought in South Asia.

The school, which follows that of Imam Abu Hanifah with regard to fiqh and minor issues, has thrust into the spotlight in recent years after it has issued several fatwas against terrorism.


The fatwa won support from leading Muslim groups in India.

“It is an open secret how youngsters in hostels misuse such gadgets. The same applies for DuD,” Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi, Imam of the Lucknow's main Edgah at Aishbagh Maheli, said.

“I don't see any harm in putting such restrictions on students. There are computer labs and Internet facilities in DuD and for the sake of information one can always use them.

“I am sure if the management in DuD comes across any fireball software that can restrict misuse of such gadgets, they would be happy to allow the students use such handsets,” he said.

The executive committee of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) also supported the ban.

However, the ban triggered debates among the Deoband students.

“I cannot believe that all the students who had the cellphones with them were misusing it,” a student said.

“There may be one or two students doing it, but it is not correct to paint all the students with the same brush.”

But the father of another student at Deoband believes that the ban was a necessary action.

“How many students actually use such gadgets to gather knowledge and news,” Ehetishaam Ali, owner of a book store in Saharanpur whose son is a hostler at DuD, said.“The move is in the right direction and I don't think there was anything wrong that the DuD administration has done.”

Reproduced with permission from