Human Rights

Kalbe Sadiq’s call for women reservation raises a storm

By Hasan Masood
Lucknow : Controversy over the statement of the renowned Shia cleric and the vice-president of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Kalbe Sadiq demanding 30 percent reservation for women in the Board refuses to die down. The Shia cleric who kicked up a new controversy by demanding reservation for women in the Board finds him alone. Religious leaders and imams of masjids did not support his views.

The All-India Shia Personal Law Board opined that it was in favour of empowerment of women but it did not support the views of Maulana Kalbe Sadiq who had advocated reservation for women in the Board at a women’s conference in Lucknow. The president of the Shia Personal Law Board Maulana Mirza Mohammad Athar demanded reservation for the Shia community in Parliament and the state Assemblies and said that reservation was not necessary for women. He further said that the Shia Law Board would unveil a national policy for betterment of the community. The Maulana pointed out that Shia’s contribution in the fields of religion, culture and history was unparalleled but the community had not been given importance it rightly deserved.

Maulana Kalbe Sadiq had made the demand for reservation of women in Muslim Personal Law Board when he was speaking at the convention of Muslim Women’s Movement in Lucknow. He was of the view that he had never supported the forces that opposed to development of the women. Every Muslim organization should have adequate representation of women. That is the only option for their development. He told the gathering, I would like to table a resolution in the next meeting of the AIMPLB to provide 30 percent representation to women. But it seems Kalbe Sadiq is in a minority. Most of the Muslim leaders dubbed his views as populist and far from reality.

Maulana Kalbe Sadiq also launched an attack on the Muslim religious leaders and the Muslim samaj saying that they had never given proper respect to women. The member of the Education Committee of the Planning Commission Dr. Sabira Habib was of the view that women themselves are responsible to some extent for their backwardness. A senior social worker, Naseem Iqtidar, who has been working for the betterment of women, welcomed the announcement made by Kalbe Sadiq demanding reservation for the women.

The Naib Imam of Eidgah Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangimahli, also the member of the AIMPLB, said Maulana Kalbe Sadiq’s views were against Darul Qaza (Islamic courts). Out of the 251 members in the Law Board, 25 are women. It was not an easy task to find those women. Otherwise also, we are against any such provision. Maulana Kalbe Sadiq is trying to raise these issues for publicity but he should raise the issues in the forum of the Board instead of making public statements.

A noted lawyer and member of the AIMPLB, Zafaryab Jilani, said Maulana Sadiq is free to table these issues at the meeting of the Law Board but the fact is that a majority of the members will oppose it. There are 25 women members in the Board and most of them never attend the meetings.

Kalbe Sadiq’s views did not find support even from women.  Chairperson of the All-India Muslim Women Personal Law Board Shaishta Amber says that it is a good sign that women should have reservation. But it is not going to add to the economic and educational empowerment of women.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2009 on page no. 11

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