World

Indian Muslim cleric says women watching soccer un-Islamic

LUCKNOW, India — A senior cleric at an influential Islamic seminary in northern India has issued a religious decree saying that Muslim women should not watch men playing soccer.

Mufti Athar Kasmi said that watching men ‘‘playing with bare knees’’ violated the tenets of Islam and was forbidden for women. Kasmi is cleric at Darul Uloom, Asia’s largest Sunni Muslim seminary in the northern town of Deoband.

The cleric also lashed out at the men who allow their wives to watch football even on television.

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‘‘Do you have no shame?” he asked in his sermon Friday. “Do you not fear God? You let her watch these kinds of things. Why do women need to watch these football matches? What they will gain by looking at footballer’s thighs? Their attention will be on that only, and they will even miss the scores.’’

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Darul Uloom is a more than 150-year-old seminary that teaches Sunni Hanafi jurisprudence. The Islamic seminary’s rigid interpretation of Islam is the ideological foundation for many hard-line religious groups including the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

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