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A Sunni group called the Raza Academy issued a fatwa on Friday in protest at Majid Majidi’s film “Muhammad: Messenger of God,” for which music maestro A. R.Rahman scored the music. “Muhammad” is the first part of a planned trilogy.

The group says that the film should not use the word Mohammad as its title, as criticism of the film could be misinterpreted as criticizing the Prophet Mohammad. And it says that Muslims are not allowed to depict God in images.

Though the word is often conflated with a death threat, a fatwa is an Islamic legal opinion, the weight of which depends on the authority of the person issuing it.

The Raza Academy says that it will ask the Indian government to ban “Muhammad: Messenger of God,” preventing it from being released in India. “We will contact Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to demand a ban on the film and legal action be taken against A.R. Rahman and Majid Majidi for hurting the feelings of Muslims,” said its chief Saeed Noorie.

When asked about the fatwa being issued against him, Rahman said, “I didn’t direct or produce the movie. I just did the music. My spiritual experience of working on the film is very personal and I would prefer not to share this.”

While speaking to CNN IBN, Rahman said, “Today there is a blur between the real world and the virtual world and I’m taken aback to see that for some years now, unethical, unacceptable and unkind remarks are made online concerning prophet. These abhorrent comments are no doubt due to a lack of understanding. I have always felt that we must counter this action with love and kindness and through the audio visuals media reach out to people who wish to broaden their understanding we are indeed fortunate and blessed to live in a country like India where religious freedom is practiced and where the aim of all communities is to live in peace and harmony.”

Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...