The three-day 26th general session of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the representative body of Indian Muslims of all schools of thoughts, from February 9 to 11 in Hyderabad reiterated its stand on Babri Masjid issue of no outside court settlement, but only judiciary pronouncement.
Addressing a joint Press conference, the office-bearers of the Board also expressed their resolve not to leave any stone unturned to prevent the Muslim Women (Protection on Marriage) Bill, which envisages criminalising the instant Talaq-e-Biddat (Triple Talaq), get passed in the Rajya Sabha.
Members of the board said they had conveyed their reservations about the Bill to the government and added they would approach the courts if the Bill is passed.
Prefers ‘societal correction’ of Triple Talaq
The Board while terming the practice of instant Triple Talaq unacceptable, said it was opposed to its penal correction and preferred societal correction.
Explaining reservation about the Bill Dr Asma Zehra, convenor of the Women’s Wing of the AIMPLB said: “The Bill is defective. We have received representations from several women organisations who want us to point out the problems. The AIMPLB has organised awareness programmes to educate men and women about Islamic provisions on marriage and divorce”.
The board’s members also said efforts are under way to push a model Nikahnama in the States, which carry a clause signed by the groom. The clause makes it binding on the groom to refrain from resorting to instant Triple Talaq.
Advocating societal pressure, the members argued that the proposed law would harm women’s interests, as a husband may neither agree to divorce nor fulfil his responsibilities towards his wife if he were booked. The board also informed that efforts to put together a financial assistance fund for women affected by Triple Talaq are under way.
In the inaugural session, president of the AIMPLB Maulana Syed Mohammad Rabey Hasani Nadvi said Islamic laws are based on the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims will not accept any amendments in the Shariah. India is a secular, democratic country which allows the Muslims and other communities to practise their religion according to their religious laws and customs, he added.
In the present circumstances, the Board will focus its energies on Islah-e-Mashaira (Social Reform movement), for empowerment and implementation of the rights of Muslim women to ensure that every reconciliatory step is taken to protect the sanctity of marriage.
Concern over threat to personal laws
AIMPLB General Secretary Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani in his detail report covered many issues concerning the Muslim community and the law of the country.
While expressing concern over the threat to the personal laws with the instant Triple Talaq issue he requested the personal law board to suggest and guide the Muslims and asked the plenary session to evolve a strategy how to stop the Union government move from passing the Bill.
Rahmani stated the government wants to interfere in the personal law matters which are guaranteed in the Indian Constitution and it is against in the spirit of the Indian Constitution and previous court verdicts.
Regarding the contentious Babri Masjid issue he elaborated the legal battle in the apex court. He said the court already is of the view that the case is related to the title of the land and does not relate to the matter of faith or belief.
Without naming anybody he said misleading rumours are being circulated, stating some elements are trying to misguide the people on Babri Masjid issue. He reiterated that the personal law board stand is that one’s a Masjid is Masjid. He said that we are ready for negotiations that should be based on fair justice and equal honour.
Declaring the Hyderabad plenary session as historic, he said it was very crucial juncture where the community confronting with many issues because of the biased attitude of the Government of the day.
On the issue of social reforms the report says that on the call given by the Board a lot of awareness is being generated in the community with movement call “Tahaffuz-e-shariyat-wa-Islaha-e-Ma’ashra” (Protection of Shariah Law & understanding Shariah law and social reforms).
The general session discussed and decided to protect the Islamic Shariah. It decides:-
* “Babri Masjid is an essential part of faith in Islam and Muslims can never abdicate the Masjid nor could they exchange land for Masjid or gift the Masjid land. Babri Masjid is a Masjid and it shall remain a Masjid till eternity. By demolishing Babri Masjid, it never loses its identity as a Masjid. And according to Shariah, it always remains a Masjid. The struggle for the reconstruction of Babri Masjid will continue and the appeal in Supreme Court is being fought rigorously with all resources at the disposal of the Board.
* The Muslim Women (Protection on Marriage) Bill, moved by the Central government is anti-women. It will create more difficulties for them. It is against Shariah and against the Constitution also. The Board’s efforts will continue to stop this Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The Board will start a country-wide awareness campaign against this Bill and will also coordinate with the Opposition parties which are opposing the Bill.
* The Board will take up campaigns to create awareness among the masses as how the present government, under the garb of Instant Triple Talaq Bill (Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, wants to put restrictions on the Muslims.
* The Board will start a country-wide campaign, so that the Muslims are made aware of Nikah, Talaq, Inheritance and how everything should be done according to the Shariah laws.
A “Hyderabad Declaration” was also released at the end of the 26th general session of the AIMPLB. It states, “Our country is passing through a very critical phase. Its democratic values are being systematically eroded. Minorities, especially Muslims and other backward sections, are being subjected to a spate of atrocities. Attempts are also being made to outlaw, alter or change certain aspects of the Islamic Sharia. Under these circumstances, Muslims for sure are feeling insecure. There is no doubt that the present day conditions in the country are a matter of grave concern to the Muslims. But, even in these critical times, there is no need for the Muslims to feel dejected or disappointed or lose faith in their strength. Conscientious communities and nations are subjected to trials and tribulations and they face the situation with determination and courage strength and strategy.”
“Under these prevailing circumstances in the country, it has become absolutely necessary for us to remove misconceptions and misunderstanding about Islam and believers and no stone shall remain unturned to stop projection of wrong picture of Islam and those people, who knowingly or unknowingly use foul language in their discourse, should be brought closer to the realities. We need large number of knowledgeable and considerate Muslims to propagate the Shariah laws in the correct perspective and respond to hate with affection and this should not be for any worldly consideration. With all our might and continuous effort, Quranic teachings and the diktats of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), we should use all media to make common this light of reform. Any attack on Shariah law should be dealt with having full confidence in faith using good strategies with a balanced approach.”
On February 11 members of the Board addressing a massive gathering at the headquarters of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), urged men to refrain from issuing Triple Talaq and recognise rights of women. The board maintained that it is open to social reforms in tune with changing times.
Around 400 members and special invitees from different spheres of life including Ulema (Theologians), intellectuals, social and political personalities from across the country attended the three-day conclave.
Asaduddin Owaisi, Member of Parliament from Hyderabad and president of AIMIM, who was the main host of the AIMPLB’s 26th general session, gave a red carpet welcome to the delegates offering them 5-star hospitality.
*views expressed in the article are author’s own.