In a controversial video leaked online, Bashiruddin Ahmad - the Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir, was seen enjoying a musical event which ironically he had earlier termed as forbidden in Islam.
The video leaked online on Saturday had the Grand Mufti attending the function in memory of Urdu poet Akbar Jaipuri. The event which was held on 8 July in a houseboat also saw the presence of several women.
The video grab drew wide criticism against the cleric's presence. In early February, the religious head had banned a Kashmiri girl band "Pragaash" citing music as 'demeaning' and 'sinful' in Islam. He had said that music was responsible for causing unruliness and evils in society, and hence it should not be encouraged.
However, the scene in the video was quite different with the Grand Mufti sitting in the company of former Doordarshan director Shahzadi Simon and several others, while Kashmiri singer Qaiser Nizami was seen rendering Urdu ghazals on harmonium.
"The evening commenced with a popular ghazal sung by Mehdi Hassan, 'Ranjish hi sahi, dil hi dukhaane ke liye aa', followed by 'Chaap Tilak' (Punjabi ghazal). Everybody was visibly transported to an another world," said socialite Kalpana Tickoo, reported India Today.
"And before I forget to mention, it was a pleasure to watch the grand mufti of J&K, Mufti Azam Bashir-ud-din Ahmad, listening appreciatively, with rapt attention to the musical treat with a smile on his face."
As the reports of the video created furore, the Grand Mufti dismissed it as as a prank to taint his image and falsify actual events. "It was not a musical event. It was a seminar on life of noted literary person Akbar Haideri which was organised by Aziz Hajini and Rukhsana Jabeen (Director AIR Srinagar)," said the cleric, reported Press Trust of India (PTI).
"The programme began with recitation of Holy Quran and at the end Kaiser Nizami read some of the verses of Akbar Haideri," he added.