A day after hardline group Hifazat-e Islam chief Shah Ahmad Shafi made a group of people a vow to not let their daughters study after primary level, now the Chattogram-based cleric has claimed that media misquoted him.
On Friday (Jan 11), Shafi said, “Don’t send your daughters to school and college. (If you do) you can allow them to study till fourth of fifth grade.”
In a statement on Saturday (Jan 12), the nonagenarian cleric said “I am not against women education. Rather I have warned (people) of their daughters' safe educational institutions.
“We want the girls to have higher education, which, of course, has to be in a safe environment and without violating the basic rules of Islam,” read the statement issued by monthly ‘Muinul Islam’ Executive Editor Sarwar Kamal on behalf of the Hifazat chief.
Monthly magazine ‘Muinul Islam’ is said to be the mouthpiece of Chattogram’s Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Muinul Islam, known as the Hathazari Madrassah, where Shfai is the director general.
Shfai said, “I wanted to say that girls shouldn’t be sent to study at such institutions where violation of ‘puradh’ takes place… Because, our institutions provide co-education where violation of ‘puradh’ happens.
“I mainly warned people of co-education,” he insisted.
According to Islamic tradition, "purdah," refers that women must keep all parts of their body covered in public, except their eyes. Today, many Muslim women only cover their heads.
Shafi, who is head of the century-old religious institution, was no stranger to controversy.
Back in July 2013, a sermon of the cleric drew huge public backlash after its video went online.
In the video, Shafi was seen calling women tamarind, a fruit that any man would like to taste.
“If one sees a tart fruit, he will drool. Am I right or not? Women are worse than tamarinds. You look at women your heart will drool,” Shafi said.
Along with scores of others, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also flayed the Hifazat chief saying the remarks ‘disgusting' and 'distasteful'.
“What he (Shafi) said about women was very dirty and despicable,” said Hasina.
Shafi, however, later claimed he never called women tamarind.
“I just compared them to tamarind,” he said at a public rally in Chattogram on Nov 3 2013.