Islam, ours and theirs

SC stand on triple talaq remains to be seen. But male monopoly over reading of Islam is under serious challenge.

Written by Javed Anand | Updated: October 25, 2016 12:31 pm
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The unfolding drama over the issues of triple talaq, halala marriage and polygamy, in and outside the Supreme Court of India, opens up the larger question of whether the Islam of the mullahs and muftis is at odds with the principles of equality, non-discrimination, personal liberty and free choice enshrined in the Indian Constitution. One often hears the reigning high priests of Indian Islam proclaim: We believe in Islam and we also have faith in the Indian Constitution. In practice, this often shows up as divided loyalty. This is evident in the current debate as it was in the Haji Ali dargah controversy earlier. Equally apparent is the emerging idea of Islam which is in conflict with the Islam of the orthodox but in consonance with constitutional values. Some Muslims talk of “our Islam” vs “their Islam”.

WATCH VIDEO: Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah Trust to SC: Ready to give women access to sanctum sanctorum

 

In the Haji Ali dargah case, two Muslim women activists had petitioned the Bombay High Court asserting both their constitutional and Islamic rights to equal access, on par with men, to the sanctum sanctorum. The trustees claimed their 2011-12 decision restricting women’s access was in accordance with Shariah law and therefore part of their constitutionally guaranteed right to religious freedom. In July this year, the high court ruled in favour of the women activists. An appeal by the dargah’s trustees is now before the Supreme Court, which has asked them to come up with a “progressive solution”.

The same conflict between orthodox Islam and the constitution is now in evidence with the petition of a Muslim woman victim of instant divorce from Uttarakhand, Shayara Bano, pending before the Supreme Court seeking the abolition of and declaration of triple talaq, halala marriage and polygamy as unconstitutional.

Two other Muslim women — Afreen Rehman (Rajasthan) Ishrat Jahan (West Bengal) — and three Muslim women’s organisations — Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), Bebaak Collective and All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) — have lined up alongside Shayara Bano in the apex court. Outside the court, a group calling itself “Muslim men for gender justice” collected nearly 150 signatures in a day from over three dozen cities across the country in support of the women petitioners. Significantly, while the Bebaak Collective (a joint platform of several Muslim women’s groups), is focused on triple talaq, halala marriage and polygamy being declared unconstitutional, BMMA is hoping for a verdict which also deems these practices as “un-Islamic”.

WATCH VIDEO: PM Narendra Modi Bats For Equal Rights : Here What He Said On Triple Talaq

 

Ranged against them is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board which has filed an affidavit staunchly defending triple talaq and polygamy, arguing that the apex court must not interfere in Muslim personal law. The Board is backed by the Jamiatul-ulema, the Jamaat-e-Islami and other Muslim bodies. What has provided extra charge to the orthodox position is the fact of the Muslim-unfriendly Modi government filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court which supports the women petitioners. To them this is nothing but the first step towards enacting a uniform civil code on Indian Muslims in keeping with the sangh parivar’s long-standing agenda.

In the past, while dealing with cases where a litigant invoked the right to freedom of religion (Article 25), the Supreme Court has based its verdicts on whether the practice in question was “an integral and essential part of [the] religion [concerned]”. The Board and its supporters insist that triple talaq and polygamy are “an integral and essential part of Islam”. What’s more, it is claimed that Shariah law is God-given and therefore immutable.

If such be the case, how is it that, forget Shias, even the Sunni Ahl-e-Hadith sect in India, considers triple talaq unacceptable? How has instant divorce been declared unlawful, polygamy banned or made conditional in many Muslim-majority countries? Is it not a fact that the entire Shariah corpus — compilation of opinions and rulings based on interpretations of the Quran and Ahadith — is man-made?

Why are Sunni ulema hell-bent on defending the continuance of triple talaq which is not only contrary to the unambiguous Quran injunction, but which even according to them is “theologically repugnant”? What, except their male-centred worldview, stops them from seeing the two-faceted nature of the Quranic stipulations concerning women: Some truly progressive by the prevailing cultural sensibilities at Islam’s birth, some like “directive principles” pointing towards a far more egalitarian and gender just future society?

Will the Supreme Court revert to the “essentiality” criterion in the present case? Or should it refrain from stepping on this “slippery slope” and limit itself, as some legal luminaries suggest, to the position that the constitutional right to freedom of religion (Article 25) is subservient to the equality, non-discrimination and personal liberty principles that precede it?

Which approach the apex court adopts remains to be seen. But one thing is clear. The centuries-old Muslim male monopoly over the interpretation of Islam is under serious challenge. Across the globe, an increasing number of Muslim women and men are now doing their own reading of religious texts and coming to the same conclusion. That the core values enshrined in the Quran are consonant with the fundamental rights and freedoms embedded in the Indian Constitution, as also the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. The real conflict today, then, is between their “our Islam” and the supremacist, misogynist “their Islam” of the patriarchs.

Islamic scholar Aziza Hibri keeps it simple: “Where there is no justice, there is no Islam”. Let the Board and its ardent supporters explain to the Supreme Court and the rest of us how triple talaq and polygamy practices are egalitarian or just.

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

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  1. P
    Prashant
    Oct 20, 2016 at 9:00 am
    In quran,,, Religion comes first nd then state(infact there is no concept of state ),,,,,,,,as per quran--A muslims shd have a Muslim king,,, otherwise it's not a state but merely a pice of land,,,,,,,,,For developing a state,,,, it shd be Governed by Muslims,, Occupied by Muslims,,non muslims shd Give Zazia,,,bt if u are practice Idolatry,,,then u shd be behead ed,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,so For most of the Orthodox Indian Muslim s,,,,,India is merely a pice of Land,,,,,,,,,nd this the only reason why they support stan,,
    Reply
    1. P
      Prashant
      Oct 20, 2016 at 9:07 am
      They want Shariah law shd be implemented,,,As per Shariah Law ""A non muslim is know as Jimmi,,or second cl Slave(not citizen),,,There is some liberty for Christian nd Jews,,,,,but those who practice Idolatry,,shd be beheaded immediately,,,,,Non muslim shd ne kept out of any Govt admin posts,etc,,,For Idolators as Per true quran nd Shariah ""either islam or death"",,,,,,,,Muslim follow 4 sects of school,,,,3 of them directly say,,,Non muslim shd be beheaded,,,last one give little "Riyayat" but only after payment of JAZIA
      Reply
      1. A
        Aryan
        Oct 20, 2016 at 11:10 am
        No religion is bad until its followers try to make it one. How can Triple Talaq be called God-ordained when it is not in Q'uran ? Does God ask us to keep the women in disadvantageous position ?
        Reply
        1. K
          Krishna Bhagawan
          Oct 20, 2016 at 7:02 am
          interesting that the author avoided to mention his own view
          Reply
          1. R
            Redback
            Oct 20, 2016 at 8:04 am
            Good on you brother. We need more of progressive people like you in every religion for stronger and peaceful India.
            Reply
            1. K
              K SHESHU
              Oct 20, 2016 at 1:55 pm
              Many Islamic countries have abolished triple talaq. Many quite from quoran saying one sitting triple talaq is unislamic.
              Reply
              1. A
                A. KHAN
                Oct 20, 2016 at 7:15 am
                TRIPLE TALAK SHOULD BE ABOLISHED AND BANNED. MANY OF THE MUS LIMS WANT TO DISCARD THIS LAW.
                Reply
                1. S
                  srinivas cvjanu
                  Oct 20, 2016 at 10:29 am
                  The w piece has no opinions no comments but looks like giving the opposers the names of the people challenging them and giving a chance to fringe to stop them
                  Reply
                  1. D
                    Dr M
                    Oct 21, 2016 at 12:53 pm
                    It is a case of having the cake and eat it too. The lofty declarations of the consutional'equality' is marred by negative discrimination based on birth by the State in every aspect of life against 70crore Indians for last 66 years. So how you can be so righteous to deal with religious subject with at least partial consutional sanction.
                    Reply
                    1. F
                      Faiz Qureshi
                      Oct 21, 2016 at 4:15 pm
                      To each his own Nithin, I cannot say much, you have choosen your own path. Unto you your religion and unto me my religion.
                      Reply
                      1. F
                        Faiz Qureshi
                        Oct 21, 2016 at 4:16 pm
                        To each his own Nithin, I cannot say much, you have choosen your own path. Unto you your religion and unto me my religion. Well said Faiz
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                        1. F
                          fazalfaizi
                          Oct 20, 2016 at 8:52 am
                          We must remove the triple talaaq system as it is unislamic and it is in favour of Islam and government
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                          1. I
                            Irfan Ahmed
                            Oct 20, 2016 at 6:36 pm
                            To understand the true meaning of Islam , a person should do research on his/her own and come to conclusions, just depending on one's understanding or media reports will only fuel hatred in your minds. So open up your mind and do some real homework before you comment.
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                            1. I
                              Irfan Ahmed
                              Oct 20, 2016 at 10:39 am
                              Hinduism may be a great religion but for sure Islam is a great religion. Only or the action of a few who mis-interpret Islam the w religion cannot be criticized. Islamc never preaches hatred on the other hand it teaches Love, Peace.
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                              1. I
                                Irfan Ahmed
                                Oct 22, 2016 at 11:13 am
                                Prashant you are extremely wrong. No Indian Muslim supports stan, please dont spread lies here. Your concept of Islam is very misleading and incorrrect, I request u to please study Islam from proper sources and not just listen to media or read something unauthentic.
                                Reply
                                1. A
                                  Ashok Kumar
                                  Oct 20, 2016 at 9:51 am
                                  Hinduism has seen many reformers in last 5000 years. The greatest reformers of hinduism include Gautam Buddha, Mahaveer , Guru Nanak , Lord Basaveshwar , Raja ram Mohan Roy , Dayanand Saraswati, Dr Ambedkar, Mahatma hi and many others.So Hinduism is very lucky to have these great reformers. This is the reason why Hinduism flourishes even after 6000 years of existence. Hinduism never encouraged any Jihadi type mental disorder to eliminate other minorities.Hinduism allowed all foreign religions to co-exist.Today India is surging ahead as a super power in the world due to its diversity and culture.
                                  Reply
                                  1. V
                                    Vinod
                                    Oct 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm
                                    The writer being a male (despite IIT education) has not answered the question in the article. He has written an article without any opinion. This displays the lack of courage by the educated writer in this matter. Articles like this are vitiating since suddenly in between the author moves to Modi Government and Unfriendly Muslim Government. It is surprising why the writer has to drag unnecessarily the Government that too Modi Government and RSS. I think this is highly one sided article with no thought behind it. Very Unfortunate that educated people view this problem from religious lens in 21st century. May God bless them with right vision.
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                                    1. V
                                      Vinod
                                      Oct 21, 2016 at 5:09 am
                                      Columns by eminent writers should contain their opinions and not positions. I used to enjoy reading Javeds articles few years back. Some how now the article has someone has mentioned in the comments lacks neutrality. As an reader i enjoy reading opinions of writers as facts are available in the net. Some how it seems Javed is also somewhere deep inside believes that this i.e. Govt. is intruding into the Personal law. Society grows with Uniform code. I would have been happy if he said that " I denounce Triple Talaq. I will be unhappy if it happens to my sister that a male because of his ego separates from his spouse for flimsy or rubbish reasons.
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                                      1. S
                                        stranger
                                        Oct 20, 2016 at 8:32 am
                                        the question what is islam or not is unnecessary in indian context, we have no such liability to protect islam of any form or interpretation. things are judged according to current moral standards, and i think nothing more immoral in any part of civilized world(pardon the islamic countries which are not part of civilized world) , polygamy is the most abhorrent and disgusting practice to be allowed. no difference between polygamy and human sacrifice. we won't allow polygamy just we won't allow human sacrifice, islamist can spend rest of their lifes debating whether such act will be islamic or not.
                                        Reply
                                        1. S
                                          ss
                                          Oct 20, 2016 at 3:55 am
                                          Triple Talaq is not the central issue. The central issue is whether that which is written in the Quran should prevail over what the Consution provides. The supremacy of the Consution is what is being resisted.
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                                          1. J
                                            Jameel Zoura
                                            Oct 20, 2016 at 2:07 pm
                                            Dear People of the word…..lt;br/gt;Do you know the truth about..... Islam?lt;br/gt;Or do you think it's aboutlt;br/gt;Bombing planes and killing innocent people.....?lt;br/gt;Forget about the lies.....lt;br/gt;I' am here to tell you how it really is.....lt;br/gt;You deserve to know the truthlt;br/gt;About this beautiful way of life.....lt;br/gt;People of the worldlt;br/gt;Islam is all about peacelt;br/gt;Terrorism it doesn't teachlt;br/gt;Its all about love and family and charitylt;br/gt;And praying to one Godlt;br/gt;This is Islamlt;br/gt;It's something you should know.....lt;br/gt;I know it's really helped me growlt;br/gt;It does away with greed, filth, arrogancelt;br/gt;And teaches us moralitylt;br/gt;A perfect way to live..... lt;br/gt;So don't believe all you see and hearlt;br/gt;Too many people wear a le of a Muslim.....lt;br/gt;But they don't practice Islam.....lt;br/gt;People of the worldlt;br/gt;Islam is all about peacelt;br/gt;Terrorism it doesn't teachlt;br/gt;Its all about love and family and charitylt;br/gt;And praying to one Godlt;br/gt;This is Islamlt;br/gt;And it teaches us the creator's made this life for us a test.....lt;br/gt;And if we follow truth and do good deeds, He'll reward us in the Next.....lt;br/gt;If we remember God and teach each other the truth and patience in His waylt;br/gt;Together we can live.... peace.....lt;br/gt;This is Islamlt;br/gt;Lyrics by Yusuf Islamlt;br/gt;Please Google Islamic research foundation and visit the FAQ section for answers to the questions you may have about Islam. lt;br/gt;I am sure that you will find that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, justice, kindness, charity, love and worshiping one God.
                                            Reply
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