Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday termed incorrect as per religious guidelines the recent Islamic Foundation fatwa stating it was illegal to offer prayers in mosques by sitting on chairs.
There is no such bar in Islam, sources quoted her as saying to ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting at Bangladesh Secretariat. She added that during flights she herself offered prayers on chairs.
When she wanted to know more about the fatwa from Religious Affairs Minister Matiur Rahman, he stated to have no idea and that he had arrived straight from Mymensingh.
He assured looking into the matter consulting officials of Islamic Foundation, which is under the ministry.
The fatwa, comprising 12 points, was issued through a press statement on May 31. It was dated May 19 and signed by Mufti Mohammad Abdullah of the research wing.
Abdullah categorically stated that even bringing chairs into mosques was illegal as it spoiled the formation of prayer congregations and the mosque's interior beauty.
Without dire needs (for temporary discussions if the discussant is an elderly person), use of chairs resembled practices of non-believers, he added.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury raised the issue, saying the fatwa, under any circumstance, had no relevant basis.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said had Islam barred use of chairs, it would have been reflected in practices in Mecca, where he had gone with his mother to perform Hajj and found use of wheelchairs even on the Kaaba premises.
Many of the meeting's attendees joined the castigation. Referring to Islamic guidelines, including that in the Holy Quran, they advocated for the use of chairs. Patients or persons unable to sit up can even say their prayers lying down, they noted, seeking for the fatwa's withdrawal. Matia told The Daily Star afterwards that the fatwa had put them in an uncomfortable situation.