Former Pakistani lawmaker and cleric Maulana Abdul Haleem recently issued a fatwa (Islamic degree) against secular education and justifying honor killings of women.The fatwa was issued in a sermon during a weekly Friday prayer in Kohistan district in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Haleem also threatened that women from secular NGOs who visit Kohistan district may be married off forcibly to local men. In a similar incident, a cleric announced a fatwa in a mosque in Noshki town of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, justifying acid attacks on women who use cell phones.
Both fatwas elicited no condemnation from the main Pakistani media. However, two Pakistani women – an author and a blogger –slammed the clerics’ fatwas, arguing that there is an urgent need to stop such fatwas against women. In an article titled “Fatwas Against Women: From The One Who Wears Bangles,” Fouzia Saeed – an author and a social scientist – stated: “I think it is time for our society to forcefully stop such people who not only violate the dignity and safety of women citizens, but also give a bad name to Islam…”
In another article “Our Stunted Society,” blogger and communications consultant Tazeen Javed argued that such fatwas are breeding narrow-mindedness. She wrote: “A country like ours can ill-afford adventurism of any kind, but most dangerous is the practice of resorting to a fatwa to get a point across. Not only does this breed a narrow and rigid view of issues, it also leaves no room for dialogue, debate, and consultation, making us an increasingly ‘stunted’ and intolerant society.”
Fouzia Saeed: “A Fatwa Was Announced In A Mosque On May 11, Stating That Any Woman Using A Cell Phone Will Have Acid Thrown In Her Face”
“Fatwas against women are becoming common again. In Noshki, Baluchistan, a fatwa was announced in a mosque on May 11, stating that any woman using a cell phone will have acid thrown in her face. Another fatwa was issued in Kohistan about two weeks ago, warning ‘NGO women’ that they would be forcefully married to their local men if they dared to enter the area. There was a time when such fatwas were more common, resulting in serious punishments inflicted on women who dared to venture beyond the four walls of their homes.