By V.M. Khaleelur Rahman
24 November, 2014
The Chief Justice of India, Mr. K. G. Balakrishnan said rightly sometime ago that a uniform civil code is a highly sensitive issue in our country where people belonging to different castes, races and communities live and explained it in detail saying that “it took thirty years for Britishers to implement the Indian penal code after its codification in the beginning of 1830”. It is really welcome and appreciable. I feel that his opinion should have pleased the minorities here particularly Muslims and Christians.
In a plural society like India only plural laws can give a strong feeling of nationality. Ours is a country of people belonging to different faiths and cultures and of course they must have the laws of their respective choice. The different personal laws in vogue now should continue to exist for the purpose of unity and solidarity of the country. If a uniform civil code is imposed on the unwilling minorities, it will not only be of no use, but also weaken our country. The best way is to make the different personal laws uniform as much as possible. There is no attempt in this respect by any quarter just because the uncalled for obiter dicta of the Supreme Court is being exploited by communal parties to their selfish political ends and the Muslim intellectuals who have the interest of the community and country at heart have lost their grounds for reforms of the Muslim personal law in the midst of rampant communal atmosphere.
There is an urgent need for creating a right atmosphere in the country where people can feel free to think and decide their issues. Moreover there is mention of a uniform civil code in the Directive Principles of the Constitution and not of a common civil code. It is well known that the Hindu laws are not the same everywhere in the country. The tribals also enjoy their own laws and they continue to receive support from all politicians. As the first step let the Hindu laws be made uniform.
This writer asked many Ulema about this issue. They say in so many words that they cannot oppose a uniform civil code if it is within the framework of the Islamic laws but there is no possibility of this and hence their opposition. It is wrong to say that Muslims oppose a uniform civil code. They only oppose any imposition of unwanted laws on them because they feel and rightly so that Islam provides better laws which are not only for them but for all human beings of all times. On the contrary the laws found in the Indian personal laws are not perfect.
The Muslims should consider that the Holy Quran has given excellent laws about marriage, divorce, inheritance etc. which are indeed far better than the modern laws and so they should adopt them in spirit and letter.
A majority of Muslims oppose the unilateral and instant triple divorce system and prefer the rational Quranic laws. The Ulema (Islamic scholars) belonging to the Ahle-Hadees school of thought simply consider this system un-Islamic and invalid. All other Ulema also consider the instant triple system an act of the days of ignorance (Ayyam ul Jahiliya) but “occurred” if it is practised even though it is not an approved system in the light of the holy Quran and Ahadees. All Ulema say that divorce should only be as the last resort and there should not be any hasty decision. There are many books written on this subject. Moreover almost all Muslim intellectuals, including Justice V. Khalid, former judge of the Supreme court, disapprove this system and consider it un-Islamic.
Islam provides laws for all situations and it is our inability to make use of them properly. And it is this inability of ours which often lands us in trouble. If Muslims follow the Islamic laws in spirit and letter, not only they will be benefited, but even people belonging to other faiths will come forward to follow them because of their fairness.
The Muslim Personal Law should continue to be in existence in our country and of course we can and we should make necessary changes in it as time demands in the light of the holy Quran and Ahadees. Islam provides laws meant for all times. We fail to grasp and implement them.