Muslim Clerics Issue Cell-Phone Fatwa

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A panel of Muslim clerics in northern India have issued a fatwa prohibiting the use of cellphones, at least in certain un-Islamic ways.

If they will extend this to the BlackBerry, I might be willing to convert.

A fatwa, you may recall, is a legal decree made by someone with extensive knowledge of Islamic sharia law, although you do hear about the occasional fatwa being issued by somebody who really doesn't know much about it and is just being a creep.  This one was issued by senior clerics from the group Jamia Ashraf-ul-Madaris, whose major problem with the phones appears to be the practice of using recordings of aayats, or verses from the Koran, as ringtones.

The clerics object to this because people tend to answer the call midway through the verse, cutting it off.  "Listening to aayats partially is anti-Islamic," said one of the clerics, identified only as Mr. Ghyasuddin.  "People should abstain from these practices.  it would leave a bad impression on young children."  Also disrespectful to Allah is letting the phone ring in the bathroom.  "If the phone rings and an aayat can be heard in the toilet," Ghyasuddin said, "it is a sin."

If you are thinking of solving this by putting your phone on vibrate during prayers, think again.  "It distracts you," Ghyasuddin said.  "It's disgraceful if one can't even give a peaceful half an hour to Allah."