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India Nusrat Jahan's Durga Puja creates Sunni-Shia divide

Nusrat Jahan’s Durga Puja creates Sunni-Shia divide

While a Deoband cleric found Nusrat Jahan's marriage as well as puja un-Islamic, a Shia counterpart held that Islam did not forbid such acts


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A Muslim cleric lost his cool moments after photos and videos of Bengali actress and TMC MP Nusrat Jahan surfaced on social media showing her and her husband paying obeisance to Goddess Durga in pandals while also dancing to the rhythm of a dhāk. As these photos and videos went viral, Nusrat came under attack by the Deobandi ulema. Support for her act has, however, arrived from Shi’ah quarters.

The Sunni cleric has advised the actress-turned-politician, who was seen along with her husband Nikhil Jain worshipping Goddess Durga, to change her name and stop “defaming” Muslims and Islam.

The ulema said the act of Nusrat was against the tenets of their religion Islam. In Islam, they said, it was forbidden to pray to anyone but Allah. If Nusrat wished to continue worshipping Hindu gods and goddesses, “she must get her name changed”, said a cleric. “Why is Nusrat dehumanising Islam and Muslims with such actions?” he asked.

Mufti Asad Kasmi, vice-president of Ittihad Ulema-e-Hind said, “Nusrat Jahan has worshipped in this manner many times before. I think that such a practice is not right in Islam. Islam does not allow this.” Kasmi said.

The Mufti added, “She had also married outside religion. She should change her name and religion. Islam doesn’t need people who assume Muslim names and defame Islam and Muslims. Look, I advise her that when she is doing all this work, whether it is her marriage or puja, she must change her name.”


Nusrat Jahan: The Appearance, The Act, The Message

However, the actress-turned-politician has received some support from a Shi’ah cleric. Waseem Rizvi, chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Shi’ah Waqf Board, dismissed the Kasmi’s concerns, stating that Nusrat Jahan was free to wear a bindi or mangalsutra. “Islam does not bar her from wearing these things. There is no problem. If any follower of Islam wants to convert to another religion, they can do so, but nobody can be thrown out of Islam,” he said.

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