India's two prominent Islamic helplines are discouraging young callers, especially women, from creating profiles and posting pictures on popular social networking websites Facebook and Twitter on the ground that it is un-Islamic.
The heads of the two popular Lucknow-based helplines, run for Shia and Sunni Muslims, have been flooded with phone calls asking if virtual profiles are Islamic.
"You can't see someone's face on Facebook and decide that you want to be friends. Look for 'pyar aur mohabbat' (love) in real life. Virtual relationships are not 'faydaymand' (profitable)," Sunni Mufti Abul Irfan Naimul Halim Firagni Mahli told PTI on phone from Lucknow.
The Mufti wants youngsters to bond in the real and not the virtual world. Of the over 1,000 calls that the Mufti fields in a month on his popular helpline, more than 50 per cent questions are about Internet usage.
"If one is on Facebook for business purposes or for constructive purposes, then the account is justifiable," he said.
However, the Mufti is not pleased about women being on Facebook to make friends and is definitely against them uploading pictures on the social networking site.
"Women should not post pictures on Facebook or anywhere else on the Internet. This is un-Islamic," he said.
A Maulana from the minority Shia sect too endorsed the Mufti's views.
"Women are not allowed to show their faces to anyone apart from their 'mehram' (male kin like father and brothers)."
"We are liberal. We are not Taliban-minded. When youngsters ask us if they can have a Facebook or Twitter profile, we allow that. But the Shariah (Islamic law) does not allow women to post pictures," Naqvi contended.
"Islam has prescribed hijab for women. They have been asked to hide their faces in public, so how can this be allowed on the Internet?" he asked.