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There are several questions that women hesitate to ask muftis. Women would be more comfortable discussing their issues with muftias.

By Mohammed Wajihuddin

Hyderabad: Over a dozen students, all clad in burqas, are in a small classroom. Their teacher, dressed identically, keeps a close watch. Everyone is on the floor while books on Hadith (traditions of the Prophet), commentaries on the Quran and tomes on Fatwas line the walls. This is the Madrasa Jamiatul Mominath in Moghalpura, which is the city’s first and only institute that trains women to become muftias. Instruction is imparted in the Darul Ifta, or fatwa department. Fatwa is an opinion that Muslims seek on a range of subjects, including marriage, menstruation, divorce, adoption, property issues, and rituals like prayers and fasting. Countless madrasas in the country, such as UP’s Darul Uloom Deoband, run training courses, but most of them are for men. “There are several questions that women hesitate to ask muftis. We thought women would be more comfortable discussing their issues with muftias. That’s why we introduced this one-year course 12 years ago,” said Hafiz Mastan Ali, Jamiatul Mominath’s founder.
Set up in 1991, the madrasa has 2,500 students today, of whom, 400 are hostellers. The Muftia course began with only five girls, but this year, the department is training 15. So far, the madrasa has produced 318 muftias.
The fatwa department’s head, Nazima Aziz, said making girls muftias is empowerment. “Once an Alima (female graduate) completes Fazila (post-graduation), she is eligible for the fatwa course.”
Aziz explained that the course is divided into five segments: prayers, women’s personal issues, limitations (what women can and can’t do), property issues and current issues. “A fatwa is given in the light of Quran commandments and the Prophet’s traditions. Muftis try their best to be neutral while giving judgments on disputes. If someone is not satisfied with the decision, he or she can consult another mufti or muftia,” she said.
The girls share Aziz’s opinion on the importance of their role.
(Extracted from the original article that appeared in The Times of India)