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Published in the 16-31 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

MEDIA

Why media is worried about triple talaq

By Tahseen Usmani

The issue of triple talaq is a matter of discussion in the media these days and once again a nasty effort is being made to bring Islam, ulama and Shari’at in the witness box. Our ulama appear to be in a defensive position on the issue and are being attacked from all sides. Those criticising ulama are some self-styled intellectuals. Even some maulvis are trying to paint the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)in bad light. There is a well-organised conspiracy to defame Shari’at and Muslim institutions but Muslim leadership appears in no serious mood to rein in the mischief-mongers.

In the Muslim Personal Law Board, there are persons who have political background, therefore, the board has no right to change or amend religious sanctions and commands. In short, Muslim Personal Law Board is a political platform of Muslims which oversees the problems of Muslims of the country. Moreover, all schools of thought have not been given equal representation in the board. The board has been unsuccessful in getting the status of the representative body of Muslims.

This article does not aim to enter into a discussion on triple talaq because it is an issue related to the Shariah and only ulama and muftis are authorised to express views on these matters. There is a conspiracy to provoke every Tom, Dick and Harry to express their views on Shariat and its problems. Whether triple talaq in one sitting is valid or not cannot be decided by discussions, arguments and counter-arguments in newspapers and TV channels. This sensitive issue could only be solved by ulama, muftis and religious scholars belonging to different schools of thought within the limits of Shariat.

Islamic Fiqh Academy organises seminars for ijtihad or interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence. Therefore, it can obtain the views of ulama and muftis on the issue. The objective of setting up the AIMPLB was to protect and safeguard Muslim personal laws in the country. In the AIMPLB, there are persons who have political backgrounds. Therefore, the board has no right to change or amend religious sanctions and commands. In short, AIMPLB is a political platform of Muslims which oversees the problems of the Muslims of the country. Moreover, all schools of thought have not been given equal representation on the board. The board has been unsuccessful in gainining the status of the representative body of all Muslims.

Sometimes it appears as if the board is functioning on the instructions of others. There was no valid reason for convening a meeting by the board to discuss triple talaq at a time when Indian people had just got rid of a communal government. The new government was announcing schemes for the welfare and development of Muslims. The board should have put pressure on the government for the implementation of those schemes rather than calling a meeting to discuss triple talaq. The national media was informed that the board was going to abolish triple talaq and the media which is always on the lookout for such opportunities started disseminating the news. When the news received a negative publicity, the board tried to put all the blame on the media, announcing that the media presented its views in a distorted manner. Why media could not understand what the board told it? The national media presumes that Islam has put maximum restrictions on women, though this understanding is totally baseless and is far from facts. The exalted position given to women by the Islamic shari’ah has no parallel in other religions. Our ulama and intellectuals have failed in convincing the countrymen about the virtues of Shariah. They have mismanaged things and misinformed others because of their ignorance as a result of which untruths about Islam and Muslims are strengthened in the minds of non-Muslims. Their own misdeeds have left a very bad impression about Islamic laws which in fact lead Muslims to the right path and development.

When the national media was busy giving publicity to the discussion on triple talaq, Tehelka disclosed some startling facts concerning incidents of divorce among the majority community. There was no flutter in the national media about those incidents because they were related to the weaker points of the majority community. Tehelka had disclosed that a doctor of Agra Mental Hospital used to issue false certificates to men who wanted to divorce their wives. The doctor took hefty bribes from these people to certify that their wives were “mad.” The doctor had given dozens of such false certificates declaring sound women as insane. The doctor (RK Gupta) was suspended for his unethical and criminal acts.

The national media treated the news as insignificant while it is ever ready to give wide publicity to the problem of triple talaq among Muslims. A Hindi TV channel presented a programme of half an hour on talaq among Muslims and it left no stone unturned to discredit Muslims. The national media had also given publicity to the meeting of AIMPLB which discussed triple talaq. The media virtually ignored the seminar of Islamic Fiqh Academy organised at Hyderabad because positive and constructive things were discussed there. 

The national media is not alone at fault. We too are equally guilty because we provide opportunities to the media to ridicule and make fun of us. Triple talaq is no doubt an evil but it cannot be solved in markets and streets. Laws of Shari’at are not reversible but these should not be misused either. Awakening in the Muslim society will have to be created against this evil practice in order to banish it altogether. Ulama and religious leaders will have to be vigilant and avoid doing things which make them target of criticism and ridicule. Ridicule of Islam and Muslims is part of a movement going on internationally to defame Islam and Muslims. (Translated from Urdu)

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