Mufti Masood’s disbelief at Hindu being ‘too fair’ engenders debate on colorism

Last year, Maulana Tariq Jameel’s comments about Africans had caused a storm on social media

Renowned Islamic scholar Mufti Tariq Masood has faced criticism from Pakistan and beyond after he told a Hindu that he didn’t seem like one as he wasn’t dark.

Mufti Masood visited a Hindu temple in Pakistan and told a Hindu that he looked fair like a Pathan (Pashtun). Masood added that he usually came across Hindus who were ‘black’.

Sociologist Shakil Rai said that the incident showed the deep-rooted colorism in Pakistan. Rai said that the nation was ‘brainwashed’ into colorist thinking, which was both propagated by and harmfully impacted the religious scholars in the country.

A Twitter user built on Rai’s idea and said the concept of division based on color went back to the early Mughal era. He said that the Mughal emperors as the Muslim elite distinguished themselves from the Brahmins, who were the Hindu elite, based on color.

Secretariat Sustainable Development Goals Coordinator Saman Jafri said that it was ‘disgusting’ that Masood was a representative of Islam; a religion that ironically came to rid the world of discrimination.

One user said that Pakistani clerics needed more exposure as there were close to 1.3 billion Hindus and 1.8 billion Muslims and neither group could be all black or white. He added that similar features created more religious harmony as opposed to being used to create division

A user unpacked the implications of Mufti Masood’s statement. He said that racism evolved by associating darker skin to Hindus and fairness to Muslims. Since the narrative typically goes that Muslims are better than Hindus, it followed that fair was better than dark.

One user came to Masood’s statement and claimed it was a fact that close to 90 percent Hindus had dark complexions and that anyone who found a problem with the statement was racist themselves. She added that many Muslims were dark as well.

Another hinted that the single remark was blown out of proportion. Anyone who regularly listened to the cleric’s sermons, knew what his real character was, the user added.

Colorist tendencies in the clergy have been a repeated issue in Pakistan. Last year, an old video of venerable Islamic cleric Maulana Tariq Jameel went viral on social media, in which he said that Africans were unaesthetic due to their skin color.