of change it seems have started blowing in the somnolent Muslim society
too. Woman the neglected lot is now coming out of the closet to claim its
share in the community. And none other than the Muslim Personal Law Board
has taken the lead to usher her in a new world of change. Ulema, the very
people accused of neglecting women and responsible for their pathetic
condition seem to have taken up the task of changing the whole perception
of Muslim women in their society.
A two-day-long conference was organized on 7-8
April by All India Muslim Personal Law Board at Jamia Millia Islamia in
New Delhi on 'Genuine Problems of Women and their Solution in the Light of
Shariah'. Here Muslim women took the lead in organizing the conference and
ran it as smoothly as anyone could do. The conference attended by a large
number of men and women also received ample media coverage.
The conference was organized to ponder over the issues confronting the
Muslim women in the country. The issues included nikah, triple talaq in a
single sitting, Khula, meher, forced marriage, women inheritance besides
women's pathetic condition in the Muslim society in the country.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has been
deliberating on all these issues for quite some time. Few months ago it
organized a meeting of all its members in down south Bangalore where the
issues of talaq and a nikahnama were discussed in full length. The women
members of the Board took full interest in the meeting held in Bangalore
and even forced the Board not to issue a final draft of the nikahnama.
But it was different from earlier meetings of the MPBL in the sense that
women had been assigned to organize and run the program. They, from all
over the country descended in the capital to attend the meeting specially
called for women to deliberate on their issues. More than 40 organizations
were represented in the meeting. Well known Muslim women activist and a
member of the Board Dr Haseena Hashiya organized the program that was
attended by a number of prominent ulema including Qazi Mujahidul Islam
Qasmi president of the Board, Maulana Abdul Kareem Parekh, Maulana
Jalaluddin Anser Umri, Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, Maulana Rabe Hasani Nadwi,
Maulana Ateeq Ahmad Bastawi and Maulana Khalilur Rahman Sajjad Nomani.
Yusuf Muchala a renowned Supreme Court lawyer was also present in the
meeting. Syedah Syedain Hameed, Hasanat Mansur of Federation of Muslim
Women Organization, Mrs. Haseena of Awaz-e-Niswan from Mumbai, Safia Iqbal
and Begum Naseem Iqtidar Ali were among prominent women activists who
attended the meeting.
Though not much came out of the meeting in the sense that the much
publicized nikahnama was not discussed here, but it made it clear that the
Board cares for the women. Maulana Parekh the senior Board leader was very
clear on the issue. During his presidential address he said that Muslim
men should be forced to accept shariah laws. He said that our society does
not allow the women those rights that have been enshrined in Islam.
Maulana Parekh made it amply clear that the Muslim community has no
regards for Islamic laws and it is the only cause for women's worst state
of affairs in the Muslim society.
Maulana Parekh said that we will have to make talaq a tough job so that
men could not just utter three words and relieve from the responsibility
of their wives. He said that like proceedings of nikah we will have to
involve our ulema in the process of talaq too. He also said that in his
home town he has made arrangements that people come and ask him before
divorcing their wives. 'Most cases of divorce are caused by insignificant
reasons and if proper time is taken before pronouncing talaq, the
instances of talaq will drastically come down' he added.
Qazi Mujahidul Islam Qasmi while speaking in the conference made it amply
clear that the Board is consistently taking care of the issues that
concern the Muslim families and particularly the Muslim women. He accepted
that women are being denied due rights in our society and showed his
determination to correct the mistakes made by us in this regard. He said
that we will have to take a tough stance on the issue of triple talaq in a
single sitting. The Maulana has also mooted the idea of establishing darul
quzat (shariah courts) in every city. These sharia courts if established
will look after the issues concerning Muslim personal law. This proposal
has got wide acceptance among women who came to attend the meeting. The
ulema have also resolved to hold workshops in various parts of the country
with the help of imams and other opinion makers for increasing awareness
of rights and duties among the people at the local level.
The MPLB conference has cleared several myths surrounding the Muslim
society. Muslim women from whichever social strata they may belong, all of
them have great faith in the sharia laws and Islam. Media or feminists are
free to claim whatever they can, but the Muslim women are fully satisfied
over what rights Islam has provided them. One more thing that clearly
comes out of the meeting is the elimination of myth regarding ulama. The
conference showed that ulama not only are much more liberal than we
believe but they are also ready to go out of the way for according due
rights to Muslim women.
Women issues have taken center-stage even in organizations like MPLB which
for long has been receiving adverse propaganda for not giving any
attention to women’s issues. But this adverse propaganda seems to have
taken a beating since a few years and now the Board has been regularly
talking of the women’s issues.
But people are skeptical of such programs. They ask as to how these sorts
of programs will help in solving the contentious issues like women's
battered position in a male dominant society like ours and issues like
nikah and talaq? When the same question was posed by this correspondent to
Maulana Parekh, he said that it may well be the start of a change in our
society. Let's first sit together and deliberate the issues that need our
real concern. He added that nothing could be changed so suddenly.
When Hasina Hashia the convener of the program was posed the same question
she said that it is great to see ulama speaking so favourably of women.
When asked if she believed that anything is going to come out of such
programs she said that she has high expectations from such meetings.