A little-known Sunni Muslim group recently issued a fatwa against Academy Award and Grammy-winning composer AR Rahman and Iranian director Majid Majidi for working on a film titled 'Muhammad: Messenger of God'.
The Mumbai-based Raza Academy said the film, first of a trilogy on the life of Mohammad, was against Islam which prohibits any kind of visual representation of the Prophet and Allah. The group had also called for a ban on the film.
Mohammed Saeed Noori, the academy's Founder Secretary, had said in an interview: "See, as Muslims we have to do something about it since it is against our religion so that tomorrow, if and when, we face Allah, He doesn’t say that you didn’t do anything to stop this from happening. So we have to try."
Rahman had the perfect response to that in a statement posted on his Facebook page.
"My decision to compose the music for this film was in good faith and with no intention of causing offence. In fact the decision was based on a similar point of view as expressed by Mr Noori. What and if I had the good fortune of facing Allah (Sbt); and He were to ask me on Judgement Day:
I gave you faith, money, talent, fame and health. Why did you not do music for my beloved Muhammad (sals) film? A film whose intention is to unite humanity, clear misconceptions and spread my message, that life is about kindness, about uplifting the poor, about living in the service of humanity and not mercilessly killing innocents in my name."
"I didn't direct or produce the movie Muhammad (PBUH), Messenger of God. I just did the music. My spiritual experiences of working on the film are very personal and I would prefer not to share these," he said.
The 48-year-old Grammy winner went on to say that he was not a scholar of Islam. "I follow the middle path and am part traditionalist and part rationalist. I live in Western and Eastern worlds and try to love all people for what they are, without judging them," he wrote.
He said the audio-visual medium would help broaden people's understanding about the Prophet at a time when "there is a blur between the real world and the virtual world" where "unethical, unacceptable and unkind remarks are made online concerning the Holy Prophet".
He had an outpouring of support from the fraternity on Twitter.
— Sonam Kapoor (@sonamakapoor) September 14, 2015
@arrahman i stand in solidarity with you.Raza Academy has no locus standi.They issued a fatwa against me too and i just ignored them
— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) September 14, 2015
SUPPORT A R Rahman, facing a fatwa for his music in Iranian Majid Majidi's respectful "Muhammad: The Messenger of God". Jai ho, @arrahman!
— KABIR BEDI (@iKabirBedi) September 14, 2015
Overheard a dude say, 'This fatwa is all publicity for AR Rahman.'
Yes, I'm sure it'll help win an Oscar or a Grammy or two.
— Sorabh Pant (@hankypanty) September 12, 2015
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