Battles in the basti

Muslim women opposing triple talaq, polygamy face attack, but are fighting back.

Written by Javed Anand | Published:November 7, 2016 1:12 am
triple talaq, muslim talaq, muslim divorce, ban triple talaq, triple talaq ban, concept of triple talaq, what is triple talaq, muslim women panel, supreme court, sc on triple talaq, supreme court triple talaq, aimwplb, aimwplb petition, indian express news, india news Tahera Apa faces the heat for demanding Muslim personal law be reformed.

In the ten years I’ve known her, she’s never been like this. Between her “Assalam-o-Alaikum, bhai” and what follows, there’s barely a moment’s gap. “Main do teen din se bahut pareshan hoon. Aap ko phone karne wali thee,” (I’ve been very disturbed over the last few days. I was planning to call you), says Tahera Apa.

What’s causing her pain is what’s causing pain to many Muslim women these days; the “Islam in danger” cry raised by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). Just about every Muslim religious body and Muslim leaders across the political spectrum — left parties excluded — have joined the chorus. Be ready to sacrifice your life to save the Shariah, Muslims are being enjoined inside mosques and in Muslim mohallas across the country. Anyone opposing the countrywide signature campaign launched by the Board to resist any “interference” in Muslim personal law is projected as an “enemy of Islam”.

In the belief that they’re defending “Allah’s law”, Muslim men and women are signing up. “They’re even collecting signatures from young children,” report Muslim women activists. Some Muslims who know their Islam better are refusing to sign, publicly asserting that triple talaq, halala marriage and polygamy must be banned. Tahera Apa is one of them.

No maulvi has it in him to cow down Tahera Apa. So they conceive a devious scheme. They’ve been working on her son, brainwashing him into believing his mother is anti-Islam. In consequence, son, mother and the rest of the family have spent several sleepless nights. “Kal ko aapki Islam mukhalif mahila mandal masjid tudwane ki bhee baat karegi. Aap chodo yeh kaam.” (“Tomorrow your anti-Islam mahila mandal will even talk of demolishing mosques. You leave this work)”, the anguished son has been arguing with his mother. There is no way Tahera Apa will give up her activism. But a threat her son hurls torments her, “If you don’t leave the mahila mandal, I’ll immolate myself with my children.” What if, in some dark moment, he acted on his threat?

What comes to the rescue is a little pocket book, a compilation of verses from the Quran on gender relations. Reading them gives the son an idea of Islam that is very different from what the ulema have been telling Muslims. It cools him down, for now at least.

Tahera Apa is not the only Muslim woman facing the heat for demanding that the “inhuman, unjust, anti-women and un-Islamic” Muslim personal law in India be reformed, as it’s been in over 20 Muslim-majority countries. Burqa-clad Zeenat Apa, from another basti in Mumbai, seethes as she narrates what Abu Asim Azmi, the Samajwadi Party MLA, reportedly said at a public meeting, “Agar chaar shadiyaan nahi karenge to kya hamari bewa auraton ko kothe pe bithayenge?” (If we’re prohibited from marrying four women, should we send our widows to brothels?). Azmi later “clarified” that he was only talking of women from his family, not Muslim women in general.

A few days later, Muslim women from Zeenat Apa’s basti who were running a counter-signature campaign supporting reforms were jostled and abused by a group of men. “Since then, even women who want triple talaq, halala and polygamy to go have been bullied into signing in the Board’s support,” she says.

But at a gathering of 25 Muslim women from across Mumbai, the mood is upbeat. “Deen aur dastoor dono hamaare haq mein hai. Hum ladenge, hum peechay nahin hatenge.” (Both the Quran and the Constitution are on our side. We will fight, we will not withdraw), they asserted with confidence. Of course, Tahera Apa was there.

The writer is general secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy, and co-editor, ‘Communalism Combat’

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  1. A
    Amar Akbar
    Nov 7, 2016 at 10:39 pm
    Terror in Mumbai a TV show by Farid Zakaria features exclusive audio tapes of the intercepted phone calls between the young gunmen and their controllers in stan, Live TV footage of NDTV by Barkha, and testimony from the sole surviving gunman. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The phone intercepts provide a grotesque running commentary as the controllers, watching events unfold on live TV NDTV\'s Barkha Dutt, direct the gunmen, Barkha telling them where the security forces are, and they saying which of their hostages should be kiIIed and how to do it. With the kiIIers wounded and asking what to do next, the tapes reveal the controllers calmly urging them to fight to the daeth and not allow themselves to be taken alive. Now Barkha Dutt got paid to give them live moments of army through NDTV.
    Reply
    1. S
      Sirius
      Nov 7, 2016 at 3:55 pm
      What is the stand of the author of article ? We all know where AIMPLB and BMMA stand ...
      Reply
      1. J
        John Joseph
        Nov 7, 2016 at 10:48 pm
        I am tired of Muslims telling me Islam is the religion of equality. Then allow a Muslim women the same right to give you triple talaq. Give the Muslim women the same right to have multiple husbands or lovers. How can the male MCP can slave the women?
        Reply
        1. A
          Amar Akbar
          Nov 7, 2016 at 10:45 pm
          Terror in Mumbai a TV show by Farid Zakaria features exclusive audio tapes of the intercepted phone calls between the young Muslim gunmen and their Sunni controllers in stan, Live TV footage of NDTV by Barkha, and testimony from the sole surviving Sunni gunman. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The phone intercepts provide a grotesque running commentary as the Muslim controllers, watching events unfold on live TV NDTV\'s Barkha Dutt, direct the Sunni gunmen, Barkha telling them where the security forces are, and they Sunni controllers saying which of their hostages should be kiIIed and how to do it. With the kiIIers wounded and asking what to do next, the tapes reveal the Muslim controllers calmly urging them to fight to the daeth and not allow themselves to be taken alive.Now Barkha Dutt is exposed with NDTV.
          Reply
          1. D
            David Soloman
            Nov 7, 2016 at 6:21 am
            The problem is that all those conditions that prepare a Muslim to become a terrorist are also caused by the Quran. These conditions are not cultural, ethnic, political or economical. They are religious. The hatred of the Jews and the non-Muslims has its roots in the Quran. Most of the crises that Muslim youth face, like lack of opportunity and loss of hope are also the result of the failure of Islam in solving the real problems of Muslims and particularly the youth
            Reply
            1. P
              Pulkit
              Nov 7, 2016 at 9:02 pm
              AIMPLB speaks the same language as BJP.
              Reply
              1. A
                Anti-corruption
                Nov 7, 2016 at 12:35 pm
                here the issue is, if In-dian govt take any action in abolishing triple ta-laq, the ill-trate m--uslims will consider it as a-nti-mus--lim plan of m--odi bh--akts... So, let them live in their own h--ell, if the triple ta--laq makes them happy, so be it.
                Reply
              2. A
                Archpagan
                Nov 7, 2016 at 2:16 pm
                But I am sure these rebel women will not vote for the BJP.
                Reply
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