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Society
Last Updated: July 17, 2007
Muslim Board for Reform but Ties Women to Shariat Code
By Seema Chishti

To “cleanse” implementation of Islamic laws, especially in the wake of adverse public opinion over cases like that of Imrana in western UP, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has decided to set up a ‘Moaashra Committee” to look at “social reform” but wants all matters relating to women’s entitlement — from weddings to inheritance to meher, divorce and maintenance — dealt only by the Dar-ul-Qaza or Shariat courts in strict accordance with Shariat laws.

At a meeting last Saturday (July 14), the Board decided to request the Supreme Court to review some of its judgments which went against the Shariat; ask UPA constituents to ensure amendment in law so that courts cannot go against the Shariat in Muslim personal law matters; and, start a campaign asking Muslims not to go to general courts but approach only Shariat courts recognised for settling divorce and matters related to divorced women’s affairs.

Board spokesman S Q R Ilyas told The Indian Express that “under the name of rawaaj or tradition, Islamic law must not be diluted and women must not be denied their due. A lot of malpractices have crept in implementation of Islamic law and we believe the implementation needs cleansing”.

Among the 50 who attended the Saturday meeting were Jamaat-e-Islami chief Jalaluddin Umri, Board president Maulana Rabe Hasani Nadvi, Board general secretary Maulana Nizamuddin, Board vice-president and Shia leader Kalbe Sadiq, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Mahmood Madani, Bangalore’s Maulana Ashraf Ali, former MP Syed Shahabuddin and Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangimeheli.

The Board maintained that “the Shariat does not leave divorced women in the lurch but provides for their maintenance, and if there is no source of maintenance and the party is very poor, the Bait-ul-Maal or Community Fund takes over... even the law of the land recognizes this provision as the magistrate can order the Waqf Board to provide maintenance of a needy divorced Muslim woman.”

Board members said they were particularly concerned about the way the Supreme Court, while ruling on the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 in the Daniel Latifi and Others vs Union of India case in September 2001, went on to hold the former husband alone responsible for the woman’s maintenance. This, the Board maintained, was “not in keeping with Shariat laws, nor sensible.” The meeting on Saturday also looked at several court judgments which, in the Board’s opinion, went “against the Shariat.”

In the matter of Shah Bano in the 1980s, Muslim organizations protested the Supreme Court intervention to ensure that Shah Bano gets more maintenance than decreed by Shariat laws. Muslim organisations also succeeded in ensuring that a law gets passed to reverse the court judgment.

But the Board says successive court judgments have given their own interpretations of the Shariat law and “crossed the line”. The Shah Bano matter went on to become a matter of national debate and the legislation was used by the BJP to point to “Muslim appeasement” by the then Rajiv Gandhi government. (Courtesy: Indian Express, July 17, 2007)

 


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