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

After Barelvis, Shias form their board

By Masood Hasan

Lucknow: The All-India Shia Personal Law Board headed by Maulana Mirza Mohammad Athar has been formed but the Naib Imam of Eidgah Maulana Khalid Rasheed of Firangi Mahal has dubbed it as a “conspiracy to divide and weaken Muslims and their unity for vested interests”. The convener of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) and member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Zafaryab Jilani has ruled out any threat to the AIMPLB after the formation of the Shia Board and Muslim Personal Law Board (Jadeed) headed by Maulana Tauqir Raza of the Barelvi maslak. 

Shia ulama after month-long hectic efforts assembled at the Chhota Imambara in Lucknow and announced the formation of the All-India Shia Personal Law Board challenging the authority of the AIMPLB formed in 1992 to protect the Shariat laws applicable to the Muslim community. Shia religious leaders have bitterly assailed the functioning of the AIMPLB claiming that the old Law Board has failed completely in discharging its duties in right earnest and this compelled members of the Shia community to form their own Board. 

A senior member of the AIMPLB, who wished not to be named, has claimed that the new Shia Board was formed with an intention to rob Maulana Kalbe Jawwad and Maulana Kalbe Sadiq of their control over the community. The fact is that Kalbe Jawwad and Kalbe Sadiq are recognized all over the country as the undisputed leaders of the Shia community. The member pointed out that this is for the third time that a separate Shia Law Board was formed. A handful of Shia ulama had gathered to form the new borad in Lucknow. The new Shia Law Board did not get much support as claimed because of the absence of Maulana Hamidul Hasan who enjoys high regard among the members of the Shia community and despite being invited, did not attend the meeting. Shia religious leaders attending the conference described his absence as his preoccupation but they claimed that they have his support in the formation of new Law Board.
The newly appointed president of the new Shia Law Board said that he has received support of the clerics all over the country. He said that the new Board was formed to protect the Shia Personal laws and would act as an umbrella for the Shia community. Maulana Athar pointed out that the new Board would work for the socio-economic development of the community.

Maulana Tauqir Raza of the Barelvi sect had earlier announced the formation of a parallel All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (Jadeed). Maulana Tauqir Raza Khan came in for sharp criticism from all sections of the Muslim community and ulama. It may be recalled that Maulana Tauqir Raza Khan has a large following among Muslims who describe themselves as “Barelvis”. 

Maulana Tauqir Raza was of the view that the need arose to form the new Muslim Law Board because the old Board does not represent all sections of the Muslim community. The vice-president of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Kalbe Sadiq had already predicted before going on a foreign tour at a press conference in Lucknow that the formation of a new Board would create more problems. 

The general body meeting of the AIMPLB which is slated for end of March in Bhopal is likely to be stormy. The issue of the two Law Boards of separate sects constituted by a section of ulama might dominate the meeting with several other issues confronting the community at present. 

Members of the AIMPLB are peeved at Kalbe Sadiq’s statement and are of the view that he always issues contradictory statements creating a new controversy for the AIMPLB, while he has never raised the issues of family planning and co-education on the proper forum of the Law Board. Kalbe Sadiq has made it clear that Islam has stressed on quality of life not on quantity. He pointed out that what AIMPLB spokesman Abdur Rahim Qureshi has expressed on the family planning was not Islam’s view. Kalbe Sadiq’s views on co-education and family planning have evoked sharp criticism and members of the Board are said to be planning to grill him at the meeting in Bhopal. 
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