When the victims of Triple Talaq and Halala are facing grave injustice, the AIMPLB came up with a shocker by declaring the intent to open Sharia Courts in every district. This is nothing but an attempt to perpetuate the Monopoly of Mullahs and negate the fight of gender justice by common Muslim women.
In a recent incident from Kerala, a madrassa going girl student, Hina was rusticated from the institution because she acted in a short film with a bindi – dot on forehead. Since the verdict–cum punishment is delivered by an Islamic institute, it should have been delivered in accordance with Islamic Sharia injunctions. It was delivered without any regard for the future of a brilliant female student. However in a post gone viral, her father expressed relief for the fact that she was only rusticated from the school and was not punished to be stoned to death.
This verdict by an Islamic institution raises certain vital questions with regard to the recent pronouncement by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to start Sharia Courts all over the country. These religious courts will be antithesis for the secular Constitution of India and purport to be a sinister design to impose theocracy by backdoor. The reason to rusticate Hina is based sheer on Hindu hate policy followed by diehard mullahdom. Can this verdict be justified in accordance with Constitution of Bharat which accords full freedom for personal appearance. The bindi on forehead no way vulgarises personal appearance. Can a custom or a tradition be barred just out of hatred for other religion or sect in our country? Of course many Islamic countries preach and practice deep sectarian hatred towards other religions and even toward sects within Islam itself. This is Bharat and it has secular constitution. It gives full freedom to all the citizens to practice their respective religions at individual and community level. It is not so with many Islamic countries. None can even dream of any Islamic country allowing the separate courts to run independently. Indian citizens in these countries are tried by the Islamic laws prevailing in the respective countries. Although Bharat has secular Constitution, it allows enacting of the Muslim Personal law. It came into force in 1930s, promoted by the then British rulers to sow the seeds of partition. During the post-Independence deliberation on Constitution, the founding fathers, out of the supreme spirit of religious tolerance let the Muslim Personal Laws continue. They possibly did not anticipate that in due course the Muslim population in Bharat will grow threefold and electoral vote bank appeasement will lead to totally unconstitutional demand for running Sharia Courts by a body like AIMPLB.
Verdicts contradicting Sharia
In many instances, verdicts by local Muslim congregations were contradicting the Sharia injunctions. At community level these were expected to be in tune with Sharia. As often emphasised, Islam does not make any distinctions among the followers of the Islamic faith. Obviously the cast distinction are not justifiable. But in Haryana, the social norms of Khap menace were seen crossing the religious divide. The instance was, a constable in the Indian Reserve Battalion at Bhondasi, Ikhlash marrying Anjum. Both belonged to the Meo community. Marrying Anjum, Ikhalsh and his family had not violated any Koranic injunction. But family of Ikhlash was excommunicated from caste because both spouses belonged to same gotra (Times of India May 22, 2010). The caste and social divisions are facts of life with the Muslim community.
Sharia Courts for whom?
AIMPLB is typically dominated by Sunni Muslims. The sectarian divide remains unmitigated. In the recent past, Shia sect representatives have expressed differences of opinion on some of the important issues like Triple Talaq, Ramjanmabhoomi etc. Their stand was totally at variance with the Sunni community. Within the Muslim community there are theological differences which result in varied interpretations of the Koranic ayats and Hadith narrations. Two distinct schools of thought, namely Deobandis and Baralavis are at odds with each other. They differ on several theological counts. The minor sects like Ismaealis, Agakhanis, and others have been at odds with the Sunni majority and feel being discriminated as they are clubbed under the Muslim Personal Laws. It is to be noted that Muslim Personal Laws follow more or less Sharia code and willingly or unwillingly are accepted by the Muslim population. Even then if AIMPLB insists and brings into action the Sharia Courts, it has to face crescendo over the sectarian divide within the community. Which Sharia code AIMPLB is intending to impose uniformly on the Muslim community in absence of proper codification? Muslim women’s organisations have been clamoring for codification of Sharia since long. In absence of proper codification, the verdict will be delivered according to whims and fancies of the respective Kazis. Will the judgments delivered by Kazis with sectarian incline be acceptable to the Muslim population at large? Will the communities, namely, Pasmandas, Ajlafs, Arjals etc. accept the Sharia code imposed by highbrow Asharafs? Pasmandas have been dissenting over the Ashrafian verdicts and for centuries facing oppression at the hands of Ashrafs. Starting the Sharia Courts is therefore a sinister design to impose Ashrafinan theocracy on Muslim masses.
Freedom of Religion
While the Holy Quran strictly forbids the faithful, both men and women to marry into other religions i.e. with infidels to be theologically correct, (HQ 2.221, 60.10). Many Muslims are letting their spouses retain and follow their original religion without conversion. In a recent verdict, the Supreme Court (SC) bench differed with the Bombay High Court verdict that woman’s religion merged with her husband’s faith (Times of India Dec 8, 2017). It implies that the spouses will have the same rights although they retain their original faith and follow the rituals. Will the Sharia Courts deliver verdicts at variance with the SC ruling? It will be breaching the constitutional rights of the citizens. It can lead to prosecution of the concerned Kazi for aiding and abating the unlawful act. Will a Kazi dealing with non-Muslim wife treat her as a slave since Hadiths allow Muslim men to keep non-Muslim women as slaves.
Criminal Justice Norms
As of today, Muslims are treated under the common criminal procedure code uniformly. Law of evidence is also uniform although it differs in Islam. Sharia laws are strictly enacted in the Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, in very harsh manner in Afghanistan and by terrorist outfits like Al-Qaeda. The criminals are lashed, beheaded, stoned to death, their limbs amputed. Will the Sharia courts in Bharat too take up criminal cases, deliver verdicts in accordance with Sharia injunctions and also carryout punishments? Whom would they employ to carry out these punishments? Will these employees, Jallads to be specific, not be committing crimes against their victims, because such types of gory punishments are not at all legally acceptable?
Ulterior Undemocratic Motive
With all the legal luminaries in AIMPLB and associated with the Board, they know well that this move by AIMPLB is bound to be opposed at many levels. Many TV channels held heated debates on the same topics. This move is aimed subtly at imposing theocracy on the Muslim masses inciting religious frenzy. They intend to prepare the mindset of the Muslim masses to accept dominance of the Mullahdom whose influence is of late on wane.
There is another vital consideration and cunning design behind the move. There has been spurt of madrassas all over the country. Lakhs of young Muslim men are being trained in Islamic texts and only in Arabic language. They fall completely out of the current education system and are unemployable. Earlier they found some employment in the Islamic countries as clerics. Since the internecine war in Arab and African countries, that avenue for employment is closed. Declaring Sharia Courts all over the country is a ploy to generate large scale employment, however underpaid these could be, as the Imams of the mosques, and to allure next generation towards madrassa education.
At the same time AIMPLB is intending to shrewdly manipulate the Muslim voters and political parties. With the Lokasabha elections due next year, AIMPLB expects to assure en mass voting for the political parties who would not mind promising Sharia Courts in their election manifestos. That will be a backdoor entry of the Sharia Courts polarising the gullible Muslim voters in favor of the political parties who would follow the suit.
However AIMPLB’s expectation are bound to fall flat. The move is bound to flare up the sectarian divide within the Muslim communities and harm them. The Ashraf and Pasmanda divide will further widen. Hindus will be inclined to vote out the parties succumbing to the minority appeasement moves on the Sharia counts.
This is the last opportunity for the elite and progressive elements in the Muslim communities from different strata to come in open to oppose AIMPLB mullahdom who are aptly called bad mijaji dini bande – bad tempered religious bigots in other Islamic countries.
‘AIMPLB wants Judicial Power’
AIMPLB’s demand of Sharia Courts is unconstitutional. All they want is judicial power. The demand is not new and has been denied consistently by the successive Governments. Even the 1880 Act was promulgated solely at the instance of the Muslim clergy, but with the specific condition that the Kazis shall not have any judicial and non-judicial powers. What the AIMPLB now wants is to restore those judicial powers, which is against the Constitution as well as democratic ethos.
-Arif Mohd Khan, Former Union Minister
—As told to Nishant Kr Azad
‘AIMPLB is struggling to remain relevant’
AIMPLB is struggling to remain relevant. The Muslim women have reaffirmed their faith in the democratic institutions of the country by approaching the Courts. This has disturbed the AIMPLB, as it has put a question mark about its existence.
Their announcement about starting Sharia Courts afresh is meaningless as no woman or her family would trust them. Their anti-woman world view is instrumental in denying Muslim women their Quranic rights. Women have understood this and have rejected their organisation as well as opinions. They don’t enjoy much support in the Muslim community today.
Zakia Soman Founder Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan
(As told to Nishant Kr Azad)
VHP demands dissolution of AIMPLB
Dr Surendra Jain, Joint general secretary, VHP
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on July 12 said the establishment of Sharia Courts would be detrimental not only for the Muslim women, but for the entire nation. This will also end up in creating a sense of disrespect towards the Indian judiciary among the Muslim masses.
In a statement, VHP joint general secretary Dr Surendra Jain said the establishment of a parallel judiciary in the form of Sharia Courts was nothing short of a conspiracy. He termed it ironical that a certain body called AIMPLB, which is totally illegal and unconstitutional, wants to establish illegal Sharia Courts. Dr Jain added that it is the right time to disband this fundamentalist organisation, which is bent on keeping the Muslim masses backward.
Dr Jain said the Mullah-Maulvis, through Sharia Courts, will nullify the Supreme Court’s decision on triple talaq. The case of Nikah Halala and polygamy is also pending in the Supreme Court. No civilised society can support these practices. This is a conspiracy of AIMPLB to nullify the upcoming rulings on these subjects. The VHP believes that such Sharia Courts will become a handy tool to protect Jihadists right to suppress Muslim women and spread hate in the country.
The VHP also believes that the proposed Sharia courts would be disastrous for the non-Muslims in Muslim majority areas and they will be forced to accept its Talibani rulings. These courts will legalise the marriages of minor Hindu girls after religious conversions, like it happened in the case of Anita in Bengal. These courts will also legitimise the atrocities committed by the jihadists on Hindu women. Hindus will be victimised if they protest against such courts. Nigeria and Sudan have witnessed the violence wrought on the society because of Sharia Courts. He said it is unfortunate that the Congress and Communists, who had opposed the Khap Panchayats, are siding with the Sharia Courts. The Mullah-maulvis have already been issuing anti-women and anti-humanity fatwas even without the Sharia Courts. They will misuse their unlawful powers enshrined by these illegal bodies.
“The proposal is likely to come up for discussion at a meeting of
AIMPLB, which is considered to be the highest decision making body on Muslim affairs. At least 40 such courts are operational at present in Uttar Pradesh”
“People are confusing social practices with legal system. Our law recognises that each community can have own rules. Personal law in India covers marriage, divorce, adoption & inheritance”
— Mohammad Hamid Ansari- Former Vice-President of India
“There is no place for Shariat Court in this country as this is not the Islamic Republic of India”
— Meenakshi Lekhi- BJP Spokesperson
Apart from cities in Uttar Pradesh, such centres have also been opened in Guwahati, Patna and Hyderabad, taking the total
number close to 50. In 2010, a man named Vishwa Madan Lochan had petitioned the Supreme Court to quash these centres on the grounds that they clashed with the judiciary.
J&K’s Deputy Grand Mufti Nasir ul Islam has demanded a separate nation for Muslims after the BJP rejected AIMPLB’s proposal for opening Shariat courts in all districts of the country.
-Dr Pramod Pathak
(The writer is scholar of Comparative Religions)