Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Full body scanning and Islamic law

Darul Uloom, Deoband, the largest Islamic seminary in India, has issued a fatwa declaring as haram (strictly prohibited) full body scanning by new 'backscatter' introduced at airports in the UK, USA and some other countries recently. “It is haram, rather severely haram…No Muslim is allowed to permit it by his own will,” the decree signed by Mufti Mahmood Hasan says.
The fatwa from the head (Mufti) of seminary’s special branch Darul Ifta, is in response to a query from a Muslim expatriate Mohammed Yaaseen Zaman who lives in the United Kingdom that he and his 9-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son were scanned by the new ‘backscatter’ before boarding a plane at the Manchester airport “without a prior warning or information.”  
The full-body scanner is the millimetre wave scanner and a device that creates an image of a person's nude body through his or her clothing to look for hidden objects without physically removing their clothes or making physical contact. They are increasingly being deployed at airports and train stations in many countries.
Mr. Zaman had asked if the full-body scanner violates Shariah or Islamic law, is it permissible for a Muslim to be screened by it, can the scanned image of a Muslim be viewed by a person of the same sex, should a Muslim refuse to be screened and what should a Muslim do when requested to have a full body scan.

In reply, the Mufti said that taking such pictures, seeing and showing them is “severely haram” and that one should refuse to be screened. “Try to avoid as much as can, rather influential Muslims have a duty to make every possible effort to get Muslims exempted legally for such scanning,” the fatwa adds. An official at the seminary said, “Before the media hype blows this out of proportion and casts aspersion on this honorable seat of Islamic learning, let me say the fatwa clearly emphasizes the concept of ‘against the person’s will’ and ‘avoid it as much as one can’ which is a perfectly balanced and totally understandable for the Muslim community to take up as suggested in it (fatwa).  He added, “It is not branding any Muslims who submit to the scan or putting them in any difficult situation to avoid travel at all costs, no matter what, if they are scanned after all reasonable attempts at refusal and avoidance have failed.”Yusuf Jameel 

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