Dr Asma Zehra
The Muslim community is facing series of serious challenges since the coming of present government in 2014, though there has been continuous of targeting and marginalization since independence.
As every individual is struggling for survival and existence for their identity dignity rights and honor, the community is also looking up to leadership political, religious and social to represent and guide on crucial matters.
The AIMPLB is holding its general body meeting on 3rd and 4rth of June at Indore Madhya Pradesh. The passing away of Moulana Rabe Husni Nadwi RA has created a vacuum of senior leaders in Board. The new president will be selected/elected by the Body in this meeting.
It is very obvious to everyone that
during the last two years the Board had been distancing itself from crucial Muslim issues and had either stated that it doesn’t fall in the domain of board or it has limited itself to issuing a press statement.
As per the Constitution of Board, the main objective of AIMPLB is protection of Muslim personal law and save community from Uniform Civil Code. Family laws are part of faith and any adulteration/ changes will lead to Haram (unlawful). Muslims follow only Allahs commands in personal and family life . It’s important to save Muslim Personal laws ie Shariat Application Act 1937 in India.
Some issues related to Muslim Personal Law need immediate response and representation.
The Kerela High Court on Khula on November 1st 2022 while dismissing a husbands petition stated that “Muslim women have the absolute right to divorce through Khula irrespective of consent of their husbands”. The judgement also nullifies the Darul Qazas and is an interference into personal laws by judiciary, the Muslim woman will be end sufferer due to this “Khula” by Court similar like Talaq Criminalisation Law.
The board issued a statement that Tafweez is allowed at time of marriage but there is need to challenge Kerela High Court judgement.
The Muslim women will have to go through lengthy expensive legal process to seek divorces through Courts.
The age of marriage of Muslim girls has been targeted by media and conflicting judgements have been given by High Courts.On 30th September 2022 Punjab and Haryana High Court have stated that “15 years is the age of puberty of a Muslim girl, and she can on her own willingness and consent marry a person of her choice after attaining puberty. Such a marriage would not be void in terms of Section 12 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, it added”.
But the Supreme Court has stated on 14th jan 2023 that “pending further orders, the September 30 judgment of the high court shall not be relied as a precedent in any other case,”
During the court hearing in Supreme Court the solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing NCPCR, stressed that any order or judgment approving of minor’s marriage was not just a violation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, but also the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
This reflects the activism by the Central Government to penalise Muslim husbands.The Assam government is targeting Muslims, over 3000 people were arrested in a crackdown which was termed as “reform measure”. The husbands fathers and qazis are facing arrest. There are statements by chief minister of Assam has announced a new Act against Child Marriage by 2026.
It’s important to challenge this in Supreme Court. There are reasons of lack of schools, poverty, parents concerns for girl child safety which lead to early marriage of girl.
The issue has not been taken up legally or in media and there are no data and research done.
The Inheritance rights of Muslim women had again been in news because of a Muslim couple in Kerala who remarried under Special Marriage Act. The share of daughters is being targeted and many communist and feminist organizations are spreading narratives which question gender justice in Muslim personal law.
The re marriage of this Couple (Kerala) under Special Marriage Act to give share to daughters and deny share to brothers and sisters of deceased was discussed widely in media platforms but the clergy couldn’t counter the accusations, instead few ulemas were suggesting making of gift deeds to give equal share to daughters. Allegations on Muslim family laws cannot be countered by accepting blames and going round the bush to give solutions. There could have been simple answers like “as we don’t interfere in others personal family matters we expect others to interfere in our personal laws”.
After instant Triple Talaq other forms of Muslim divorce Talaq e Hasn is being challenged in Delhi High Court. Petitions are filed to declare extra judicial divorces illegal.
Muslim community have been blessed with Personal Laws which are just simple and easily applicable, forcing couples towards judicial process is equal to allowing UCC to be implemented.
Maintenance Laws Allahabad high court on 25 feb 2023 stated that ” a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to claim maintenance after iddat and for her whole life unless she is disqualified for reasons such as marriage with someone else” . Is it not what AIMPLB campaigned to protect for in Shah Bano case in 1986.
The Hindu Personal law board has filed a PIL in Allahabad High Court on 26th March 2023 , it states that government enacted Personal Laws of Hindus including Buddhist Jain and Sikhs but government “did not dare” to interfere with personal laws of Muslims. Similarly Bar Association has filed a petition in Uttarakhand High Court on Muslim girls age of marriage. Why are High Courts entertaining such petitions.? Is it not paving way towards Uniform Civil Code.
Each day community is maligned with topics of Halala, polygamy, family size, child birth ratio, population growth and women’s rights.
The much discussed Nikahnama lacks concensus. Also any additional agreement will undermine the basic agreement. When Nikah itself is an AQD agreement there is no need of “Iqrarnama” at time of marriage. Women have right to state conditions at time of marriage but the present ‘Nikahnama’ is to satisfy Liberals rather than a need of Community. The community needs Counseling centers and Darul Qazas to overcome Marital disputes.
Bhagwa Love trap
There is a well designed organized and planned conspiracy to trap Muslim Girls by Bajrang dal and similar groups.
There should have been a fact finding team and data collection survey to assess the spread of this conspiracy among Muslims. At time of Triple Talaq campaign, Women’s Wing had collected data from family courts across India to counter false narrative and blame of divorce over Muslims.
There is no statement or press conference on these burning issues of community.
The Women’s Wing founded in 2015 during Kolkata General Body Meeting was dissolved unjustly in October 2022. More than 150 educated intellectual Muslim Women had associated themselves with the Board.
The two respected male members from Delhi and Muslim organization worked hard to dismantle the Women’s Wing of AIMPLB. The Hijab issue was not taken up stating that it is a Karnataka state matter and doesn’t fall in domain of boards activities.
The Muslim women are being targeted across the country but instead of strengthening the Muslim Wing of Board it was clipped totally. Such moves have damaged the credibility of esteemed institution.
The permission of Hindu rituals in Gyanvapi Masjid and targeting of Shahi Eidgaah are the pressing issues.
Apart from these there are challenges of economic boycott of Muslims, Love Jihad, Anti Conversion Laws, arrest under UAPA, demolition of homes, demolition of places of worship, Hijab issue in Rajasthan and Gujarat, The Kerela Story film and more than 20 films ( Hyderabad Files, Mysore Files, etc) to be released which are totally Islamophobic. It’s important to have a legal desk helpline and community centre for handling upcoming challenges.The Muslim community issues can’t be neglected for long.
Already there is trust deficit with most of organizations who are affiliated with Board are holding closed door meeting with RSS. These are Godi Qayedeen who need to be sidelined.
We need a President and General Secretary who are aware, enlightened, wise, sincere, honest, hardworking, competent and feel pain of Muslims.
The present state of cabinet in AIMPLB is a close group of like minded individuals, who are not only damaging the reputation of the organization but also it’s functioning is undemocratic.
There were times when senior ulemas would be scared to take up responsible posts for fear of Allah and accountability. But these days it’s sad to see community blinded by hero worship. And respectable people racing for posts and lobbying.
The meeting at Indore is significant. But will the decisions be according to challenges faced by Muslims or will it end up the same way as “we will be prescribing multivitamins to patients when they are in need of Critical Care”.
The writer is former chief organiser of Women’s Wing of AIMPLB.