Interview
A drastic rethink is the need of the hour, he says

Coming from the son of Panakkad Muhammad Ali Shihab Thangal -former Indian Union Muslim League’s president- this is sure to carry much weight among the Muslims in Kerala.

In an interview published in the January issue of the Pachakuthira magazine, Sayyid Munavvar Ali Shihab Thanga, has exhorted people to keep up with the changing times.

Munavvar Ali  who is also the nephew of the current IUML state president Panakkad Syed Hyder Ali Shihab Thangal wants to initiate an open discourse among the party leaders as well as Muslims in general so as to stem what he terms as the ‘Arab and Gulf influence’ prevalent among the Muslims.

“Not many wear the purdah because of their religious inclination. It is more or less the fall-out of the Arab influence in a state where many Muslims migrate to the Gulf countries looking for work,” he said. It had more to do with marketing the purdah on the lines of popularizing the Kuzhimanthi biriyani (a local variety of the Yemeni dish-Manthi Chicken), he added.

Coming on the heels of the recent controversy dogging the IUML as to “whether lighting a lamp as part of any inauguration is Islamic”, Munavvar Ali’s forthright comments on many social issues is sure to trigger a furious debate among party leaders.

Unlike what’s taught by followers of the Nava Salafi movement -an ultra conservative form of Islam practised by Saudi Arabia in particular- Munavvar Ali says that partaking of a Christmas cake or a sadhya (Kerala meals) with a neighbour cannot be construed as haram (forbidden).

He drove home the point by sharing his recent experience of having eaten food from the famed Thali Mahadeva temple in Thrissur district last week.

In an age of digitalization and social media where even teaching methods involved use of visual aids in classrooms, keeping away from all visual media would not serve any purpose other than leaving Muslims in a time-warp, Munavvar Ali stressed.

Munavvar Ali also clarified that the League was never against Hinduism or the RSS in particular. He preferred to view it as more of an ideological clash rather than a religious one.

He also expressed his reservations about Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker’s -a popular Muslim scholar revered by the state’s Sunni Muslims- proposal to build a mosque to reportedly house a holy relic of the Prophet.

Munavvar Ali denies saying movies are not haram

The interview had quoted Munavvar Ali saying that cinema could not be clubbed as haram. Many Muslim women -he rued- had hardly been to a theatre to watch movies. There was nothing wrong in catching a movie, he said while confessing his liking for Mammootty and Mohanlal.

He later retracted his comments on cinema in a Facebook post and said that he was only speaking about meaningful documentaries.