In a strongly worded letter to the Darul Uloom Deoband, a Muslim
women's advocacy group has decried the frequent fatwas - religious
decrees issued by the Deoband seminary, and has even went on to
challenge its authority to do so.
"Who are you and what is your
authority to pass such fatwas? In a secular democracy like India
and in a religion that denounces clergy ship, from where do you
get the authority to pass dictates which are unconstitutional and
un-Islamic?", Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan asked in an open
letter written to Darul Uloom, Deoband.
Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan's
letter came in the wake of the frequent fatwas issued by the
Deoband, the latest in the line being divorce pronounced by the
husband on phone.
The Deoband in its fatwa has said
such a divorce is valid even if the wife has not heard it due to
network problems. It also says that ‘for talaak to take place it
is not necessary that wife should hear it or witnesses are
present.’ In October this year they also ruled that talaak
pronounced in jest is also valid.
Continuing its tirade against the
Deoband, the Muslim Mahila Andolan in its open letter demanded an
answer from the muftis and qazis who, they say, "have nothing
better to do than pass fatwas which ruin the lives of so many
"What is the source of illogical,
stupid and laughter-evoking fatwas like women should not be riding
bicycles, women should not talk loudly, they should not work in
male company and without a veil, that women cannot be a judge and
that she cannot be talking to her fiancé before marriage and many
other much much more ridiculous rulings? Don’t you think twice
before you defile a rational, progressive and liberal religion
like Islam? Don’t you have an iota of a sense of responsibility?",
they asked in the letter.
Stating that a Muslim man feels
empowered and emboldened when irresponsible muftis and qazis send
letters and notices on his behalf to his unsuspecting wife
abruptly terminating her marriage, they observed, "Divorcing ones
wife by letters, emails, SMSs is a recurring phenomenon which
gives no opportunity to a harried wife to even know what went
wrong where and how. Instead of dissuading men from resorting to
this un-islamic method of divorce, the qazis are actually
providing an easy conduit to men who think of marriage as some
joke and his wife to be some piece of furniture to be discarded at
"What do you feel when you read the
verse no. 4:35 which insists on arbitration before divorce? Do you
suffer from selective amnesia and forget all those verses which
are just and fair to women?", they challenged the Deoband.
Demanding the Deoband's stand on
codification of the Muslim family law, the Mahila Andolan asked,
"When practically all Islamic/Muslim countries have codified the
family law, why is the Darul Uloom not taking an initiative to
call for codification of Muslim personal law in India?"
The Deoband's stand on divorce or
talaq is debatable. The vast majority of Muslims in the world
including the Arab world do not agree to the stand which is
frequently propagated by the Deoband.