Residents of Sahaspur Alinagar, the village from where cricketer Mohammed Shami hails, have come out batting for the Indian pacer at the receiving end of some nasty criticism on social media over his wife’s sleeveless dress.
“Shami is our pride and the controversy is simply aimed at harassing him,” said Faisal, a resident of the dusty village in Amroha district of western Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, responding to the online furore sparked by a family photograph featuring Shami, his wife and daughter.
Many of those who found the photograph objectionable because Mohammed Shami’s wife Hisan Jahan wore a western dress argued that she should not be seen without a burqa. Some even went to the extent of calling her “un-Islamic”.
Mohammed Shami, currently undergoing rehabilitation for right-knee soreness after missing the last two Tests against England, defended the picture. “My wife and daughter are my life partners, and I know what is to be done and what not,” he wrote on both Twitter and Facebook.
Ye dono meri zindage or life partner hai me acha trha janta hu kiya karna hai kiya nahi.hame apne andar dekhna chahiye ham kitna accha hai.👉
— Mohammed Shami (@MdShami11) December 26, 2016
But for a handful, an overwhelming majority of his neighbours in Sahaspur Alinagar – a village of 3,000 people with a predominant Muslim population – feel the cricketer normally accustomed to surprising batsmen with his controlled bouncers is not at fault.
“We have seen the photos and there was nothing objectionable. People are trying to defame them for no reason,” claimed Saima Khatoom, a graduate girl from the village.
“Being a celebrity, they move in high-profile parties and wearing such dresses is quite common there. We should not interfere in their personal life,” argued Asifa Aslam, a college student.
Even before Shami had made it big, his family commanded respect in the village, boasting a junior high school, several madrassas and at least four mosques. His father Tauseef Ahmad is a former village chief with a large landholding.
A general view of Mohammed Shami’s village Sahaspur Alinagar
“Being a Muslim, we are followers of Islam and believe that the controversy is unnecessary. People should come forward to support my son,” said Ahmad. “He has been representing over 20 crore Muslims of the country by playing for India and everyone should be proud of him,” he added.
Akhtab, Shami’s uncle, insisted the entire village was standing behind his nephew. “We believe everyone has the right to live their lives in their own way,” he said.
Mohammed Shami’s father Tauseef Ahmad (right).
But Mohd Mosleem Raza, the imam of the local Qureshion Wali Masjid, struck a discordant note. “Exposing face and other parts of the body in front of male persons other than family members is against Shariyat and Islam and we condemn it,” he said. The imam’s criticism, however, was drowned in the chorus of support for Shami.
“We should not link social matters with religious issues and discourage players like Shami,” said Girish Bansal of Little Scholars Academy, the school where the cricketer had studied.