Row over Maulvi calling prophet ‘bhai’ reaches HC
TIMES NEWS NETWORK .
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court will now decide whether addressing Prophet Mohammed as ‘brother’ (bhai) amounts to hurting religious feelings, as a city-based Maulvi has approached the court after being booked under the charge for using the word ‘bhai’ to refer to the prophet during his sermons.
The tiff between the Barelwis and Deobandis reached the police station in March this year, when a secretary of Sunni Awami Forum — Usman Qureshi lodged an FIR against a Maulvi — Kari Ahmedali Hussainali Battiwala for outraging sentiments of the Sunni Muslims by allegedly making derogatory remarks on principles of religion and pronouncing blasphemous statements against the Prophet.
The complainant accused the maulvi of inciting people in his propaganda speeches against Sufi saints calling upon people to “demolish their shrines”.
However, the main charge levelled against Battiwala was that he used to address the Prophet as ‘brother’ and incited others to call the Prophet as their brother only. The recording of Battiwala’s speeches was also submitted to the police in form of a CD. The maulvi lives in Saraspur area and has studied from Tadkeshwar seminary in south Gujarat, which is believed to be a stronghold of Tabligh Jamaat.
The Vejalpur police booked Battiwala under Section 295 (A) of IPC for hurting religious feelings by equating the Prophet with himself. The police arrested him, and he was later released on bail. A charge sheet has been filed against him after the probe.
Battiwala approached the high court to get the FIR against him quashed. In his plea, he contended that the complainant is a journalist and lodged a complaint for publicity only. He claimed that his speeches were delivered a year ago, but there was no objection from the Sunni Awami Forum and the FIR was lodged all of a sudden more than a year later.
During a hearing in the high court, Justice AS Dave questioned the basis of complainant’s objection and commented that as per Article 25 of the Constitution, everybody has right to propagate his ideology and faith.
To verify the allegations, the court asked the investigating officer to produce the transcripts of the CD so that the content of Battiwala’s speeches could be known. The judge has kept the hearing on June 29 with oral observation that the court would go to the root of the matter.