The sensation or controversy generated by a Muslim Nusrat Jahan swearing in as an MP sporting vermillion on her forehead, with her head covered with the aanchal or pallu of the sari like traditional Hindu women, refuses to subside. That appearance was replete with a mangalsutra (sacred thread) around the neck to irk the Muslim clergy as much as amuse the incredulous Hindus. Nusrat Jahan has set tongues wagging with her marriage to a Jain as well.

When Deoband was asked whether a Muslim woman was permitted to get married to a non-Muslim as per Islam, the answer was a predictable ‘no’. But Nusrat Jahan had to respond because neither the media nor Bengal was told this was mere opinion. They called it a fatwa, an edict.

Technically, a fatwa in Islam is binding for some sects of Shias but no sect whatsoever in Sunnis. While the Ayatollah is entitled to issue a fatwa for Shias, a mufti does it among Sunnis. The Ayatollah’s fatwa is often an actionable order. A mufti’s, on the other hand, is a clarification issued by an Islamic scholar, not suo motu, but only when a believer formally submits to the seminary that mufti represents a question as to where Islam stands on a given issue.

“I do not pay attention to such things, which are baseless. I know my religion. I am a Muslim since birth and will always be so,” the TMC MP said in response to the fatwa that wasn’t.

But she did something more to heckle the cleric. On Thursday, she pulled a replica Jagannath Rath in Kolkata — once again in traditional Hindu attire. This overshadowed West Bengal Mamata Banerjee’s act of offering worship at the ISKCON temple in the capital of Bengal even as the chief minister and the MP were together.

Nusrat Jahan in Jagannath Yatra with Mamata Banerjee

Nusrat accompanied husband Nikhil Jain to the place of worship.

Explaining today’s act, Nusrat said while she believed in Islam, she believed equally in all faiths! It seems this is the Muslim version of those Hindus who say all religions are equal.

Be it as it may, what emerges from the entire series of Nusrat Jahan’s public appearances since the day she turned up at Parliament with colleague Mimi Chakraborty in informal wear is her cosmopolitan Bengali identity that dominates her life’s philosophy more than her birth as a Muslim and her marriage to a Jain do.

Nusrat Jahan, Mimi Chakraborty, Parliament

But hold it, Nusrat is not representing the land of Lalan Faqir either. She is not abandoning Islam. She is not embracing Hinduism. She is just being one of those innumerable happy-go-lucky, city-bred young Indians. Do not draw any greater message from the show.

Thank God for the little mercy that Zaira Wasim’s abandoning of films is today no longer news. Can we have some real issues, please?

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