The MSM has been working on issues like triple talaq, Muslim women liberation, uniform civil code, modern education for Muslim community, awareness among Muslims on family planning and population growth for the past 50 years.
It all started when Hamid Dalwai, along with seven Muslim women, took out a historic march in Mumbai against triple talaq on April 18, 1966. Later, Dalwai started MSM on March 22, 1970.
“He continued to fight against the unjust practices in Islam like triple talaq. He took a strong stand against communal policies and politics in Islam that were damaging society. He was instrumental in the signature campaign started by MSM in association with the Indian Secular Society along with noted intellectuals and activists like A B Shah and Narhar Kurundkar in 1971,” said Professor Shamshuddin Tamboli, the current head of MSM.
“In 1973, Muslim Personal Law Protection Committee was formed by some religious hardliners to oppose Dalwai’s demand of bringing reforms in Muslim personal law. This committee later came to be known as the Muslim Personal Law Board…MSM activist Wajir Patel of Amravati, a close aide of Dalwai, started a movement in 1973 for creating awareness among Muslims on family planning. Despite threats from fanatics, Patel reached out to more than 500 Muslim families and convinced them to undertake family planning. Also in 1973, Dalwai organised the Muslim Marathi Shikshan Parishad in Kolhapur, which has historic importance. Besides, MSM activists conducted several programmes and meetings for upliftment of Muslim women,” said Tamboli.
Dalwai died in 1977, but several activists inspired by him took MSM forward. His wife Mehrunnisa headed MSM for a few years. She was at the forefront of the agitation against triple talaq in Maharashtra in 1986-87. She raised her voice in support of the Supreme Court order in Shah Bano case. She is also the founder of Hamid Dalwai Islamic Research Institute in 1993.
Tamboli himself got threats for writing articles promoting “liberal Islam” in a regional newspaper during the month of Ramzan a few years before. Closely associated with Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, founded by slain activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, MSM has been conducting blood donation camps every year on Bakri-Eid to create awareness against susperstitions associated with the ongoing practice of animal sacrifice or ‘Qurbani’ (sacrifice) during the festival.
The MSM also came out against the fatwa issued in September 2015 against Iranian director Majid Majidi, composer A R Rahman and others involved in the making of a film on the Prophet. The MSM had called the fatwa a “Talibani” act.
A delegation of MSM had held a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 18, 2017 for discussing issues related to Muslims and the triple talaq Bill. “MSM has also been opposing any unconstitutional activities, whether by Muslims or Hindu groups. As on today, we have at least 150 active members working for MSM all over Maharashtra who are taking Dalwai’s progressive work forward. We had planned a programme to celebrate the golden jubilee of MSM in Pune on March 22. But we postponed it due to the COVID-19 outbreak. If things return to normal, we will conduct this programme on May 3, which is also the death anniversary of Hamid Dalwai,” said Tamboli.
On the 50th foundation day programme, MSM had decided to felicitate Teesta Setalvad, secretary of Citizen for Justice and Peace, Dr P A Inamdar, chairman of Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education society, professor Jahir Ali, chairman of Center for Promotion of Democracy and Secularism, and IPS officer Dilip Bhujbal Patil, currently the superintendent of Buldhana police, for their work in various fields.
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