How The Stranglehold Of Muslim Personal Law Board Can Be Broken

How The Stranglehold Of Muslim Personal Law Board Can Be Broken

by Arshia Malik - Friday, January 6, 2023 02:38 PM IST
How The Stranglehold Of Muslim Personal Law Board Can Be BrokenThe stranglehold of All India Muslim Personal Law Board
  • The rationalist Muslims are the only ones who can dismantle the personal enterprise or fiefdom of the AIMPLB in 2023, upholding what the secular courts of India did in 1986 and subsequently afterwards.

The Shah Bano case is close to my heart. At the crux of that monumental event in history was a short-lived attempt of the Indian state to hold the Muslim male accountable to social justice and human rights and dignity, especially of women.

Ultimately though, a patriarchal interpretation of the Quran and hadiths resulted in the ulema colluding with the state (Caliphs) and keeping the Muslim community under the burden of archaic laws that desperately need a rethink in the modern age.

What the global ummah does well is exploit the constitutions of liberal democracies with its various articles protecting the rights of minorities to practise their religion. This has been turned into an art by the Muslim Brotherhood and its various chapters in many countries, including India.

Indian Muslim personal enterprises like the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and its intellectual cover-fire agenda groups in the media and their social influencers take leaves out of the Muslim Brotherhood playbook and try the same tactics when it comes to the hijab controversy, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the establishing of Sharia courts since 1973

I have personally suffered when a Muslim male did not pay maintenance or alimony to his wife, who was also a mother of two underage daughters, and who he divorced on frivolous excuses through the triple pronouncements.

For close to two decades, our father did not pay anything to our mother, nor was anyone able to reason him into doing his duty; neither the mohalla committee, nor the J&K government (DC Office, Srinagar to which he was attached after transfer from J&K State Properties, Amritsar) nor the Sharia courts functioning in the jihad-ridden Valley in the 90s under mushrooming muftis and qazis.

Since this was the 90s, it was the peak of the insurgency. Secular courts were nonfunctional and lawyers were more interested in being the spokespersons of terror groups than in social justice or the rights of a Muslim woman left destitute due to the uncivilised triple talaq.

In the subcontinent, divorce cases in the Muslim community should be case studies for surveys because they point to other underlying problems plaguing the community, and to the patriarchal, totalitarian mindset that lets the Muslim males get away with a lot.

Muslim women usually raise their voice or step up to injustice or speak out against regression if a female child is vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, or physical harm.

Our mother was punished for raising her voice against such a travesty of my sister by the male patriarch of the joint family and ‘left’ to fend for herself and her daughters.

It is important to note that even if a person of Muslim heritage is a lapsed Muslim or has renounced Islam (which he won't announce publicly) or walks about with a Sufistic persona, professing agnosticism, harping platitudes, it doesn't mean he is exempt from Sharia laws.

That duality of unbelief at home and belief in public holds him accountable to Sharia laws, which the apologists say are liberating and just to Muslim women.

So the fiefdom of the AIMPLB acted deviously in 1986, engineering resistance to the Supreme Court judgement in favour of Shah Bano, and mobilising regressive groups and individuals, including the then Congress leaders and advisors who could only be called pure opportunists.

Pandering to the ulema, Rajiv Gandhi, the then prime minister, chose politics over progress.

The government brought in the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 to set aside the Shah Bano verdict, defending the applicability of Sharia laws under the Indian Constitution.

Any attempt by any party to rectify the unjust laws, or reform the existing ones was demonised as a step towards the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) which has been denigrated as an attack on the 'separate identity of Indian Muslims' and been termed a violation of their right to practise Islam under the Constitution of India.

The real or perceived fear of the majority Hindus tinkering with anything Muslim is an automatic call for a street mob veto to undo reform for the Muslim community, a bogeyman created by agenda groups and the regressive ulema.

Indian Muslims have a way out through rational Muslims, the cultural Muslims, their agnostics and atheists, their freethinkers who have not distanced themselves from their heritage but are creating bridges with those whom Islamic theology 'others' — the Jews, Hindus, Shias, Ahmadiyyas, Christians, and everyone who is deemed 'kafir' in the scores of verses.

The rationalist Muslims are the only ones who can dismantle the personal enterprise or fiefdom of the Muslim Personal Law Board in 2023, upholding what the secular courts of India did in 1986 and subsequently afterwards.

Arshia Malik is a columnist and commentator on social issues with particular emphasis on Islam in the Indian subcontinent.
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