Hyderabad: This historic city with a rich Muslim past has been at the forefront of most national campaigns on issues related to the community. And with the movement against a discussion on the Uniform Civil Code by the Law Commission gathering strength, it once again finds itself in the lead.
Many muslim organisations here feel the Law Commission's move is the thin edge of the wedge in the attempt to impose a uniform personal law on the community. A call given by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) for a country-wide signature campaign against the Uniform Civil Code is receiving good response, with groups belonging to various sects working together.
On the other hand, there are many Muslim women's organisations in the country that are taking a stand against the triple talak issue which is before the Supreme Court.
Various organisations are collecting signatures of both men and women to oppose any move "to interfere with Muslim personal law". The campaign has been taken up at various mosques in the city with men and women signing a proforma prescribed by AIMPLB, said to be apex body representing muslims in the country.
The proforma for women in part reads: "We the undersigned Muslim women do hereby declare that we are fully satisfied with all the rulings of Islamic Shariah, particularly Nikah, inheritance, divorce, khula and Faskh (dissolution of marriage). We deny that these need any reform or there is any scope for change therein." The proforma also says the signee "firmly stands" with the AIMPLB to "safeguard Sharia law".
Imams at mosques, in their sermons, are speaking about what they see as a first step toward imposing the Uniform Civil Code by the government at the Centre. They are exhorting Muslims to unite to defeat the proposal.
The Law Commission had recently sent a questionnaire to all stakeholders, seeking their opinion on the desirability of a Uniform Civil Code.
On October 19, the Muslim United Forum is organising a protest meeting at Darussalam, the headquarters of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) to show unity on the issue. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and leaders of other constituents of the forum representing various sects will address the meeting.
Owaisi has said he would respond to the Law Commission's questionnaire, although he says a uniform code for personal matters would not be good. The board has strongly opposed the move to discuss the code, saying it would not respond to the questionnaire.
The Uniform Civil Code has been a hot potato for all the political parties, although the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has compaigned on its desirability several times. The Constitution of India has also urged its enactment in the directive principles, which are not justiciable.
The protest against the code has been going on even before the Law Commission's move, though in a muted fashion. Tehreek-e-Muslim Shabban is one of the organisations that has been running a campaign for more than one-and-a-half months.
Shabban president Mushtaq Malik told IANS that they were carrying along leaders of Muslim organisations belonging to all schools of Islamic thought. It held different rounds of consultation to "evolve a comprehensive plan for a united struggle".
The organisation is scheduled to hold a meeting with all Muslim MPs and state legislators this month. It also proposes to convene a meeting with non-Muslim leaders and intellectuals to seek their support.
Malik also plans to hold a national conference on a common civil code next month by inviting non-BJP and non-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) parties and organisations. The "Tahafuz-e-Shariyata (protect the Shariah) Conference" will be held on November 13.
"We will invite leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and Lalu Prasad Yadav. The idea is to bring pressure on the government to drop its plans of imposing a Uniform Civil Code," he said.
Shabban is also holding public meetings in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Malik believes the BJP government is trying to polarise society by pushing forward its agenda of the uniform code with an eye on the coming elections in Uttar Pradesh.
"Their whole gameplan is to prepare the ground for raking up the issues of the uniform code and Babri Masjid before the 2019 elections," he claimed.
(Mohammad Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)