Barely a fortnight before his next film, 'Madaari', hits theatres, Irrfan has landed in a controversy over his comments on certain Islamic practices. The actor was promoting his film in his hometown, Jaipur, when he reportedly questioned the need of animal sacrifice and the essence of fasting during Ramzan, drawing a sharp response from Muslim clerics.
Irrfan apparently commented, "People should understand the real meaning behind a particular ritual. Qurbaani means sacrificing something close to your heart and sharing with others. Animals used to be the prime source of food when the ritual would have started and people sacrificed their food. Today, you buy a goat from the market and kill them in the name of sacrifice. It is something to think about, it is a matter of common sense. We all should ask ourselves how sacrificing another life earns us any goodwill. I feel proud that I live in a country which is not run by any religious rules."
He then went on to say "we have made a mockery of Muharram. It is meant for mourning, and we take out processions" while criticising "Muslims" and "politicians" for not speaking up on terrorism. Religious leaders have not taken kindly to his statement and have asked the actor to focus on his work instead of coming up with his own interpretation of religious customs. Zafaryab Gilani of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board reportedly said, "He is not a religious leader, and his advice is not needed."
Rajasthan's chief qazi Khalid Usmani has said, "Irrfan is an actor and should focus on his work only. He has no religious knowledge and he should contact or get some knowledge from a cleric before raising questions regarding qurbaani or Ramzan."
The actor, however, appeared unfazed by the raging controversy as he tweeted, "Pls Bhaiyon, who r upset with my statement, either u r not ready to introspect or u r in a hurry 2 reach 2 a conclusion. For me religion is abt personal introspection, it's a source for compassion, wisdom and moderation n not for stereotyping n fanaticism. Clerics don't scare me !! Thank God I don't live in a country governed by religious contractors (thekedars) #FREEDOM (sic)."
When we tried to get in touch with Irrfan, his spokesperson said, "He has already clarified his stand on Twitter and doesn't wish to make any more comments."
Amid the criticism, a section of netizens defended Irrfan
@arunodayM: Isn't @irrfan_k entitled to an opinion? Clerics say he should focus on acting. Dont see why they have greater claim on religion than others
@kewalHanda: Religion progresses and becomes relevant only when voices like #Irrfan khan are heard and not asked to shut up!!
@AdityaRajKaul: Proud of @irrfan_k for raising that essence of 'sacrifice' is being lost during #Ramzan. Fasting is good healing. Not sacrifice of goats.
@PritishNandy The clerics may scorn him. But @irrfan_k has unleashed a debate that will make everyone everywhere sit up and take a side. I am on his side.