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Published in the 1-15 Nov 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Finally, model nikahnama is "on its way"

Lucknow: The model nikahnama is on its way, said assistant general secretary of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), Abdul Rahman Qureshi on 9 October. Talking to the media, Qureshi said that the board would work out the blueprint during it's three-day annual session scheduled to be held in Kozhikode, Kerala during 24-26 December.

The board, Qureshi said, would discuss the nitty gritty of the nikahnama. Among other important issues, rights of women to inherit ancestral property, especially agricultural land, was expected to figure in the agenda. This apart, the board would also launch yet another Shariat awareness campaign across the country to dispel prevailing misconception about the Shariat laws. A similar campaign was carried out in 1976 after the Shah Bano case. The masses needed to be retold that Shariat was essentially pro-women, Qureshi declared.
Although Qureshi summarily dismissed any possibility of a similar right to divorce to women, the board he said could issue certain guidelines like a joint declaration of talaq to be made by both the husband and wife in presence of two witnesses and a qazi. This is the first time such a proposal was being introduced in India, Qureshi pointed out."

Once the board approved of the guidelines, it would be deemed to be a model nikahnama and will be followed by all Muslim sects across the country, he said adding that this would put an end to all the prevailing confusion over the issue.
However, no revolutionary changes should be expected as far as women's right to divorce was concerned as Qureshi trashed such suggestions as impractical and unjust. "Who should be given the right to terminate a contract," he questioned and then himself provided the answer: "It naturally had to be the party which would be most affected by its termination." In a talaq, it is the man who is the worse sufferer, Qureshi announced. What is the financial burden of talaq on women after all, he questioned. "It is men who have to pay up the meher and bear the brunt of compensation so there was nothing wrong in vesting them with the right," he insisted.

The board's meeting, which Qureshi said was convened to "take the stock of the overall situation", was chaired by AIMPLB chairman Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadwi. 

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