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Muslim Personal Law Board and Indian Muslim women

Monday May 21, 2012 10:48:14 AM, Aleem Faizee,

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Both the public meetings were impressive in terms of the crowd they attracted and also for the message the organisers wanted to send to the government. The first was organised in Mumbai on April 22 by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which is dominated mostly by the clerics and people from the Deobandi school of thought, though it also has clerics from other Muslim sects. The other was organised on May 11 some 50 kms from Mumbai in Bhiwandi. It was also organised with the same set of agendas but the organisers were from the Barelvi Muslim sect.

Apart from the agenda of both the rallies, what impressed some observers were the ‘special care’ the organisers had shown to the ‘Indian Muslim women’ in the advertisements that ran for weeks in leading Urdu dailies before the actual event. Every advertisement that appeared in these newspapers had special and prominently displayed sections that said, “Special seating would be available for Muslim women who are coming for the rally.”

Interestingly, an insider said, during the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) governing body meetings held at Hajj House that preceded the public meeting, woman members and delegates shared with the clerics the same meeting hall that too without any purdah in between.

Now the question is, if the clerics can invite Muslim women to such public meetings and give them so much liberty that they can share with them a single meeting hall without any purdah, what stops them from allowing these women an entrance into the mosque to offer prayers?

Barring a small exception, clerics in the Indian sub-continent are perhaps the only lot in the world, who are hell bent against the women worshippers’ right to offer prayers inside mosques. This despite clear permission given to them by Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him.

Speaking to them on the issue gets a reply that they are against the women coming to mosques because Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, had also said, it would be better, if women offer prayers inside their homes. But when it is said that the Prophet, peace be upon him, had also said that “if they seek permission to go to mosque, don’t stop them”, instead of surrendering to the Prophet’s guidelines they try to justify their stand giving excuses like “fitna” and other such things.

One also finds that invitations to the women are not just limited to the personal law board public meetings. Ever since some clerics have joined politics, they are openly encouraging women to attend their election rallies. It is surprising to note that these honourable men can’t see any “fitna” if they invite the women to public rallies. But, there will be problems if they are coming to mosques. What can be more ironic than this?

Can one dare to ask, if there is no permission in Shariah for women to offer prayers in mosques, on what basis invitations are extended to them for public rallies? There is no problem if by accepting their call the women attend public rallies but there will be fitna if they obey the Prophet, peace be upon him, and come to mosques to offer prayers! This is nothing but sheer rigidness. And rigidness having no Shariah basis is nothing but a clear attempt to keep one’s own will over and above the intent of Shariah and the will of the Prophet, peace be upon him.

This is just one example to show how the clerics in India take decisions based not on the Shariah but on the basis of what suits their convenience. Otherwise, some of the woman activists I had a talk with feel that there are clauses in the Indian Muslim personal law that deny them the rights as given in the Shariah, and contradict the Shariah and its real motives. These activists have examples to show how the clerics in India differ with their counterparts in the Muslim and other countries while giving solutions and taking stands on various issues especially those related to women and their rights.


These woman activists, who were also involved in drafting the proposal submitted to the government that dealt with the changes they wanted in the Muslim personal law, alleged that when they tried to meet the clerics to discuss the clauses in question, far from seriously and sympathetically addressing their concern, they refused to meet them. This, they said, despite their clear and unanimous assertion that they want their concerns to be addressed within the framework of the Shariah and they didn’t want anything which has no backing of the Islamic principles.

I often wonder that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has the likes of Syed Rabe Hasani Nadavi and Syed Mohd Wali Rehmani whose calibre, talent, understanding of the Shariah and commitment to the Muslims and Shariah are beyond doubt. Yet they are ignorant to the concerns of the Indian Muslim women who only want their stamp on the rights given to them in the Islamic Shariah.


The Muslim personal law board should realise that by remaining ignorant to the concerns of the Indian Muslim women just to satisfy the interests of a particular sect, it will only invite more troubles like the Draft Divorce Bill and the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill that despite opposition from the clerics have received the cabinet approval and may also become a law soon.



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