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If the Quran permits idol worship, Muslims are allowed in Garba pandals, said an MP minister

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The issue surrounding the Garba dance in Madhya Pradesh has resurfaced as the holy holiday of Navratri approaches. Usha Thakur, the minister for tourism and culture, claimed that “Garba” events have turned into sites of “Love Jihad” and Muslims who choose to practise idol worship are welcome at Garbas if their holy scripture, the Quran.

Although they (Muslims) are not invited to Garbas, the minister claimed that if “they are so high in faith for the Garbas, then they should have trust in idol worship as well, which should be permitted by their precious scripture Quran as well.”

In addition, Muslim men who practise idol worship will only be accepted to Garba locations if they travel with female family members, Thakur told reporters in Bhopal on Tuesday.

However, the minister emphasised that anyone without valid identification will not be admitted to any Garba locations in the state. “We are writing to all district collectors to ask them to make sure that only people with valid IDs are granted entrance to Garbas during the upcoming Navratra celebrations. By doing so, those who conceal their true identities will be prevented from visiting the Garba locations.”

The minister said last week that “Garbas had previously become a significant hub for “Love Jihad” operations, but today all relevant parties are well aware of it. Simply to prevent anyone from entering Garba venues while disguising their true identity, and to ensure that nobody is permitted access into Garba pandals without correct ID papers.”

The minister had said, “This is’salaah’ (advice) as well as ‘naseehat’ (command),” when requesting the Garba organisers to ensure rigorous enforcement of “No Entry without ID evidence at Garbas.” Importantly, Thakur advocated a restriction on the admittance of non-Hindus, mainly Muslims, to the Garba locations ahead of the 2013 Navratri celebrations while she was the BJP’s Indore MLA. This was done to stop Muslim men from wooing Hindu girls and women. Then, in order to stop Muslim men from attending the Garba locations while pretending to be Hindus, she insisted that Aadhaar and other ID papers become required for entry. The Hindu Utsav Samiti, a collective of Hindu festival organisers in Bhopal, made demands of the locations in 2017 while posing as Hindus.

In order to prohibit the admittance of non-Hindus (especially Muslims) to those sites, the Hindu Utsav Samiti, an umbrella organisation of Hindu festival organisers in Bhopal, proposed in 2017 that possession of an Aadhaar document be required as ID proof for entry into the Garba pandals. Throughout Madhya Pradesh, during the Shardiya Navratri, garbas are organised. However, they are especially well-liked in the alwa-Nimar/West Madhya Pradesh region, which includes Indore and neighbouring districts.

Muslims on Twitter criticise a journalist over The Wire’s suggestion that Muslims participate in Garba during Navratri

Arfa Khanum Sherwani, a columnist for The Wire, voiced her shock on October 1 at Hindus’ hostility to non-Hindus, particularly Islamists, entering Garba Pandals. Hindu organisations like the Bajrang Dal have requested in numerous places that Garba organisers verify IDs before allowing anyone inside the Garba pandals. “Hindutva Fascists are insulting, discouraging, threatening, and even beating up Muslims who are/want to join in festivities of Hindu festivals,” Sherwani stated in a tweet. They are obliterating what little of India and its hybrid culture still exists.

Islam considers idolatry to be sinful, and the Navratri garba celebrations involve Goddess worship. Even though many have attempted to pass off the religious celebration as a cultural one, Hindus still celebrate Navratri throughout India and other parts of the world.

However, a sizable portion of Muslims were offended by Arfa’s post and opposed to the idea of Muslims taking part in the garba and Navratri celebrations. Dr. Asma Zehra Tayeba, an AIMPLB member and the head of the Hyderabad Sharia Committee, remarked, “Lakum Dinukum Waliya Deen is clearly stated in Surah Kafiroon. Hamare liye Tumhare liye Tumhaara Deen. What is your purpose in dancing at their religious festival?

You should be more critical of participation in such areas when Hindu festivals have turned into concentrated hubs of Hindutva pride and violence towards Muslims, according to Twitter user Misrai Ali.

Sorry Arfa, but what’s the point of Muslims taking part in Hindu holidays, tweeted Twitter user Hamad. A sincere Muslim must be apart from them and unconcerned with them. You follow your religion, and I follow mine. The Surah Al Kafiroon.

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