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

Disintegration of the Muslim Personal Law Board 

By Razaullah Abdul Karim Madni

After the downfall of Muslim rule and start of British imperialism in India, Muslims especially tried to assert Muslims’ religious, social and cultural identity by setting up madrasahs, mosques and orphanages. They set up religious and educational institutions and organisations as Jamiatul Ulama, Nadwatul Ulama, Al Ahrar, Khaksars and Muslim League for the promotion and survival of Islamic arts, sciences and culture in order to foil the intrigues of anti-Islamic forces and to eradicate evils. Ahle-e Hadith had also set up such organisations and participated in all such campaigns.

Ahl-e Hadith were initially given a position of honour and their contribution acknowledged but when it became strong, efforts were made to marginalise them. Conspiracies were hatched against them to cut them off from the mainstream Muslim community. As result of this they parted company with other Muslim organisations.

Some people are trying to convert Muslim organisations as Jamiatul Ulama and Nadwatul Ulama into their personal fiefdom for vested interests. Indian Muslims through their mutual cooperation had set up and recognised Muslim Personnel Law Board (MPLB) as the representative organisation and the common platform of all Muslims. But the way things are moving in the inner circle of the Board indicate that it too will become a body of a particular school of thought. Members of a particular sect have been vying for monopoly on the board because they are in majority.

Probably it was one of the reasons for setting up a parallel Muslim Personal Law Board by a section of the community. Another section of the community may also follow suit. We neither support the setting up of the new Muslim Personal Law Board because we know the intentions of people behind this move, nor we support what some people are saying that the setting up of a new board is a result of the initiative of forces inimical to Islam because we don’t have any proof against them. We also do not support the actions of the dominant group on the board as Islamic. We request both the groups to reconsider their actions and intentions and not to adopt a course of collision because it will harm and confuse the community which has already so many differences among themselves. 

Muslim Personal Law Board has been working on a model nikahnama for a long time. The details of the nikahnama are not yet available. However, the statements and views on the nikahnama published in the newspapers prove that the Board has failed in its efforts. Members of the Board’s executive committee have neither courage nor capability to reach a decision universally acceptable because people of a particular sect on the board insist that their views are superior to those of others. They do not want to change their orthodox stand even if Islam becomes the target of ridicule because of their rigid stand. The so-called model nikahnama is said to be approved by Darul Uloom, Deoband.

The Urdu daily Inqilab which is published from Mumbai carried a statement of MPLB member, Mufti Zafaruddin of Darul Uloom, Deoband on 27 December last year. He had said that there was nothing objectionable and unIslamic in the model nikahnama approved by MPLB and that Deoband’s stand has been that misuse of Triple Talaq should be stoped and to this end awakening among Muslims should be created. He added that if some one pronounces talaq three times in one sitting, the talaq would be valid, though it was a wrong way to pronounce talaq.

Is the MPLB an extension of Darul Uloom, Deoband? When Mufti Saheb is a member of MPLB, and the Board represents the decision of all the sects, then what was the need of bringing Darul Uloom, Deoband in the whole affair. Darul Uloom, Deoband represents only a particular school of thought. Similarly, there are many other institutions representing other schools of thought. But why their approval was not sought? The need for a model nikahnama was felt to reform Triple Talaq. But when people like Mufti Zafaruddin insist on the outmoded practice of talaq, then what was the use of the meetings and discussions on Triple Talaq, if there was no outcome. It is like putting old wine in a new bottle with a new label. If they have not changed their views, then what was the use of this drama? Mufti Zafaruddin’s claim that there is nothing in the nikahnama that is contrary to Shariat or that no sect has any objection is wrong. His stand reflects that MPLB has become a Deobandi Personal Law Board.

The authorities of MPLB must respect the feelings of other schools of thought and avoid saying or doing anything which makes others feel that it is no longer a united and common platform of Muslims and it has been hijacked by the people of a particular school of thought. Today some people have left it, tomorrow some others may also part company with it. Those who are calling the people who have left the Board as agents of enemies of Islam should themselves be careful against evil designs of enemy’s of Islam. Disintegration of MPLM will not only harm Islam but it will be also against the interests of Muslims and it will create opportunities for the people who are hostile to Islam to interfere with the Personal Laws of Muslims (Translated from Urdu)

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