An Islamic cleric in Uttar Pradesh has hit out at Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan after she took part in Durga Puja festivities and ceremonies in Kolkata on Sunday. The cleric, who described her actions as "defaming Islam and Muslim", accused Nusrat Jahan of insulting her religion and demanded she change her name because she married Nikhil Jain, a Hindu businessman.
"This is nothing new. She has been offering puja to Hindu Gods despite the fact that Islam orders its followers to pray only to Allah. What she has done is 'haram' (sinful)," Mufti Asad Kasmi, Vice President of the Itehaas Ulema-e-Hind, was quoted in a report by news agency PTI.
"She had also married outside religion. She should change her name and religion. Islam doesn't need people who assume Muslim names and defame Islam and Muslims," he declared.
Nusrat Jahan has previously been criticised for wearing Hindu symbols of marriage.
In response, Waseem Rizvi, the Chairman of the UP Shia Waqf Board, dismissed the cleric's concerns, stating that Ms Jahan was free to wear a bindi or mangalsutra.
"Islam does not bar her from wearing these things. There is no problem. If any follower of Islam wants to convert to another religion, they can do so, but nobody can be thrown out of Islam," he said.
Nusrat Jahan, 29, a first-time parliamentarian who won the Basirhat Lok Sabha seat during national elections in April-May, was praised on social media after she and her husband offered Durga Puja prayers at Suruchi Sangha Pandal in the Bengal capital.
Dressed in a red saree, she also joined her husband in dancing and playing the 'dhaak', a traditional Bengali drum associated with Durga Puja celebrations.
A video of the couple was posted on Nikhil Jain's Instagram account, along with the message: "Playing dhaak for the first time with my wonderful wifastic @nusratchirps".
Speaking to reporters after the puja, Nusrat Jahan said she wanted to promote religious harmony.
"I think I have my own way of portraying harmony towards all religions. Born and brought up in Bengal, I feel I am doing right by following culture and tradition. Here, we celebrate all the religious festivities," she said.
Her husband echoed those sentiments, saying, "I think every citizen of India, irrespective of their religious identity should accept all religions",
Social media users have rallied to Nusrat Jahan's side after the UP cleric's statement, with many praising the politician for supporting secularism. One user said: "Very easily and simply you have won the hearts of nationalist forces and Hindus. Nusrat we all love you"
Another user said her actions deserved a "standing ovation".
A third user commented on double standards employed when Hindus celebrated Eid.
When Hindus attend Iftar party or go to Haji Ali Dargah, it is a secular country...but when Nusrat celebrates Durga Puja, she is creating communal disharmony ????????????— Krishna Sathyanarayana ???????? (@krishna_sathya) October 7, 2019
Dafuq is wrong with these idiotic clerics who claim to own the religion of Islam ????????????#nusratjahan#hypocrisyhttps://t.co/9HSW9eOwS7
One user said "more power to you".
Earlier Nusrat Jahan and fellow first-time MP Mimi Chakraborty danced to 'Ashey Maa Durga Shey' as a tribute to Goddess Durga. The video has collected millions of views on Facebook.
In June, Nusrat Jahan had also been criticised by Islamic clerics for wearing a saree and 'sindoor' (traditional vermillion marks) while taking her oath as a Member of Parliament, with Mufti Asad Kasmi and some others calling it "un-Islamic".
Ms Jahan hit back by saying she represented an "inclusive India". In a post that she shared on Twitter, she wrote that "faith is beyond attire".
With inputs from IANS, PTI