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Published in the 1-15 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Call for codification of personal laws

Cuddalore: Voicing strong opinion against the commonly practised custom of 'triple talaaq' and polygamy by Muslim men, Tamil Nadu's first ever woman chairperson of the Waqf Board, Bader Sayeed, on Jan. 16 said the time has come for a complete codification of the Muslim personal law or Shariat. 

"The problem arising out of the cases of triple talaaq and polygamy in the country will go once we codify the Muslim personal law as per the tenets of the Holy Quran," Sayeed, who was here to distribute relief materials to tsunami affected people, told newspersons. 

"When we can have the Christian Marriage Act or the Hindu Marriage Act, we can surely chalk out something to stop the triple talaq. The Supreme Court has ruled against it in 2002 and the Madras High Court in 2003. 

"The problem is, the Muslim personal law is open to a whole lot of interpretation since different religious heads quote the Holy Quran to their his own way," she said, adding that "how many people can actually read and interpret Arabic for the common masses?" 

Sayeed, a crusader for putting a stop to the commonly practised custom by Muslim men to repeat 'talaaq' three times and annul their marriage, said that once there is statute, polygamy would also stop. 

In the past she has held that such lack of codification throws open the divorce petition to the attending judge's understanding of the issue, sympathy and whim, Sayeed, who is also a practicing lawyer in the state, said. 

Sayeed, who had also been the AIADMK candidate from south Chennai parliamentary constituency in the general elections last year, said the board has systemised the process of holding regular elections for the Islamic bodies, starting 'annadanam' or charity food distribution programmes at mosques and reclaiming lost property ever since she took over. "For the first time we are on our way to having our own building in the state," she added. 

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