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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Fatwa against shops during Ramzan: Kerala

Controversies regarding fatwas about opening shops during Ramzan are not new in Kerala. In many ‘minority’ areas of Malabar, even drinking water is unavailable while Muslims fast. Whenever such allegations arose, Islamists maintained that it was just Sangh Parivar’s propaganda. But now, the traders of Kozhikode beach have come forward for the right to trade in the month of Ramzan.

Interestingly, these shops remain shut during the day and only open at night after fasting. But now suspected terrorists have threatened to stop trading at night during Ramzan. If the traders open, radical Islamists will destroy the shops, lamented the shop owners of Mukhadar near Kozhikode beach. Most shop owners in the region are Muslims. 

It is alleged that the local mosque Mahal Committee imposed this fatwa. Traders lashed out against the suspected jihadis who threatened them and spoke to News 18 Channel. Most are small vendors who sell snacks, tea, and other edibles. They ask how they will live if they cannot sell at night.

The reason for the fatwa smacks of radical Islam. When the shops open in the evening, women and men flock to the beach. Extremists warned they could not accept it during the month of Ramadan.

Local traders alleged that a particular section of Islamists indulges in moral policing. Shop owners said that these fringe elements do not like boys and girls sitting together.

One trader asked why the extremists should practice moral policing during fasting. “If there is any law and order problem here, the police will investigate it. But the unknown men claimed that people come here because we are open,” a trader opened up to News18.

A section claimed that immoral activities prohibited during Ramzan occur at night at Mukhadar Beach. It is also alleged that the mosque thinks young people will not arrive for the evening prayers. But traders say nothing unethical happens in the region, and the drug/alcohol mafia is absent.

Since the incident became controversial, the Mahal Committee claimed they did not impose the night fatwa. But the traders say that there have been similar incidents here before.

Marunadan Malayalee pointed out that there have been similar incidents at Kozhikode beach in 2019. That Ramzan too, boards appeared along the beach road stating that eateries should be closed at night. This is what the poster said. 

“Notice: The establishments selling night food items on the beach road from Mukhadar beach to Kannam Parambu Masjid should be closed during Ramzan this year as they were shut in the previous years.” Both political outfits and local mosque committees jointly issued the fatwa.

Back then, the fatwa was imposed under the leadership of three prominent mosque committees: Mukhadar Juma Masjid, Kannam Parambu Juma Masjid, and Moideen Masjid. Political parties included CPM, Congress, and Muslim League with covert assistance from the terror-linked Popular Front of India. 

When it became a controversy, all these parties washed off their hands and claimed they had never made such a decision. The fact remained that shops remained shut during Ramzan. Such is the fear instilled in the people living in the area.

This time, those who threatened to close the shop are not coming out publicly. Extremists also have little support among the general public. Therefore, the fatwa will be rejected, and the shops will open at night this year, say the traders. A blanket ban on the PFI has brightened prospects, but will highly radicalized ‘lone wolves’ carry out terror acts?

During this month, Muslim families visit the beach at night. Business is brisk and continues till dawn, when they have their final meal. Many go home and sleep off the day. 

In Kerala, moral policing by extremists has become a menace that the local police claim are ‘isolated incidents’ and brush under the carpet. The last thing Hindus want is for Islamists and moderate Muslims to pick up arms against each other in the highly volatile districts of Malabar. There are allegations that the home department headed by Pinarayi Vijayan’s inaction against such dark forces is pushing Kerala the Kashmir way.

Incidentally, a Sunni Muslim was brutally beaten up for praying in a Mujahid mosque on Monday. Shamoon was beaten up for entering the Mujahid Mosque in Kozhikode city. After seeing him in the mosque, the caretaker, Moideen, got angry and attacked Shamoon. 

He was shifted to the hospital after the police reached, and he had a serious injury on his chin. Shamoon’s family complained to the police about the Mujahideen attack. It is also alleged that the accused’s son, a policeman, is trying to settle the case. The incident proved that casteism exists among Muslims.

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