Yet again, a voice has emerged within the Muslim society to somehow placate the miserable condition of women within the community. One of the Muslim women has again decided to question of customs that lead to exploitation and expulsion of women. Unfortunately, the dominant section of society considers those very customs denying women their rights and liberty as the “matter of religious pride”. The courage shown by Shah Bano 30 years ago, by challenging the fundamentals of these religious principles, has been repeated by a resident of Uttarakhand, Shayara Bano. This has provoked many pro and anti reactions within the Muslim society.
Now the matter is under consideration before the Hon. Supreme Court of India. The Hon Court has consented to hear the plea of Shayara Bano to ban “Triple Talaq”. First hearing is already over; the other is scheduled for April 29, 2016. In the midst of all this, the arguments from the both sides are been weighed with reference to Quran and Hadith on one side and human rights on the other. The role of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is a major bone of contention. The Board’s intention of filling a petition to challenge Shayara’s plea must be seen as an attempt to fuel passions of those who want to cite Shariat for everything.
Shayara Bano: Aged 42, married Muslim woman with two children, hails from Kashipur in Uttarakhand. Fifteen years ago, she was married to Rizwan of Allahabad. She had to face immense physical and mental harassment torture inflicted by her husband. To get some relief, she went to her mother’s place in mid 2015. She was shocked to receive a notice for Talaq by her husband in October 2015. The mother of two, Shayara was perplexed about the abrupt ending of 15 year long married life.
After a storm of many questions, she decided to knock the doors of the apex court to get justice. Through her plea, Shayara has questioned the legal validity of Triple Talaq. This way, she has also questioned the constitutional validity of Article 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act 1937. This is the same act which under Shariat validates polygamy, Triple Talaq, Niqal and Halala. The plea has labeled these provisions as anti-women and anti-human rights. She has also cited examples from many Muslim countries where some provisions are there to legally ban polygamy.
As was expected, many Muslim women have raised their voice in support of Shayara. The treasurer of Maulana Azad Educational Foundation, Dr. Naheed Zafar openly says that, “when Muslims in India have to get married or divorced, they deal through Sharia laws, but when it comes to property rights, they approach the regular courts.” A legislator from Kheda District in Gujarat, Asma Khan says, “If Muslim society ever witness a social revolution, it will come from women only.” Mumtaz, Chairman of ‘Mother Women Welfare Organisation’, a Jammu and Kashmir based institute, takes a step further in claiming that, “Muslim men interpret the Quranic text according to their convenience. This has left many women homeless and children to lead a pathetic life.” Moreover, founder and Chairperson of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, Shaista Amber says that, “Shayara has met injustice. This has been done because of an ineffective knowledge of Quran Sharif. This has led to misuse of the provisions of talaq. Shayara must get justice.”
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is in no mood to render to these voices. They are once again ready to play their old tricks to maintain their monopoly over the system.
The Vice Chancellor of Nalsar University, Hyderabad rightly says that, “no Muslim can be compelled to follow the Personal Law Board. The board is based on certain thoughts, and every human being is free to agree or disagree with any sort of thought.” Prof. Tahir Mahumd of Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Amity University is vehemently against this pattern of divorcing randomly and without reasoning. He writes in a leading daily that, “the Islamic laws do not permit husbands to give divorce without a reason, without thinking. Like marriage (Niqah), divorce (Talaq) is also a process which should be followed.”
There are many Muslim countries such as Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, UAE and Yemen who have negated the thinking behind practices like triple talaq and Halala.
However, Muslim Personal Board is away from these realities or else living in its own illusionary world. This board was constituted in April 1973 to give opinion on various issues pertaining to the Muslim society, in accordance to the Quran and Hadith. But whether society is satisfied with the hitherto played role by the board is a matter of an objective inquiry. No such efforts are allowed, may be because the board is afraid of losing its prominence. Fortunately, many voices are coming from within for rights and justice. The movement started for Durgah entry at Haji Ali in Mumbai is one of them. Today a vast section of women within the Muslim society are hopeful about the proceedings in the apex court, where Shayara has raised voice for rights. n
A survey of Indian Muslim Women Movement
A survey was conducted among Muslim women about their perception about the Muslim Personal Laws. An extensive Survey with sample size of 4710, spreading over 10 states, constituted 73% women belonging to lower class, with annual income less than 50 thousand rupees. Almost 50% of the respondents said that they were married before 18 years of age and do not have a copy of their Niqahnama.
According to the Survey:
n 53.2% women are vulnerable to domestic violence
n 75% women are in favour of fixing the eligible age for marriage to 18 years and 21 years for female and male respectively.
n 40% of the respondents received less than 1,000 rupees as Mehar, and 44% didn’t receive any.
n Out of the total surveyed, 525 women, 65.9% were divorced verbally, and 78% witnessed a one sided divorce from the husband’s side.
n 90% women want to have some legal system to recognise the Qazis.
Who is Shah Bano
Muslim Personal Law Board, formed in 1973, vehemently opposed the Shah Bano case.
n Shah Bano was divorced by her husband in 1978.
n The battle for Muslim women’s rights and liberty commenced with Shah Bano in 1985.
n The case was lodged in Supreme Court of India under Section 125.
n Shah Bano fought the legal battle for the compensation for a living, and won it, but was not compensated.
n Rajiv Gandhi, under pressure from Mullahs led the passing of a legislation called Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.
Shayara Bano Case
n Uttarkhand’s Shayara has challenged the Islamic tradition of Triple Talaq system in the apex court and pleaded for declaring it illegal and unconstitutional.
n The court has given its consent to hear the plea and look into the matter of protecting the rights of the women.
n Muslim Personal Board has made it clear that it cannot accept any distortion in the Triple Talaq system in its present form.
n Shayara was married in 2002 with Rizwan from Allahabad who forced her to go for abortion as many as six times.
n In October 2015, Rizwan gave Talaq to her.