Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (Press Release)
20 July 2018
· The Ulema claim to be defending Islam. In fact, they are perpetuating patriarchy. In the process, they are helping in the demonising of Islam and Muslims.
· Nikah Halala demeans women; must be banned.
· What justice will Darul Qazas (‘Sharia courts’) run by patriarchal Ulema bring to Muslim women?
Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) fully supports the pending petitions in the Supreme Court calling for a ban on Nikah Halala, polygamy, Muta (temporary marriage) and Misyar (traveller’s stop-gap marriages). IMSD proposes to intervene in the Supreme Court in support of the petitions filed by Sameena Begum and Naish Hasan demanding the outlawing of such unconstitutional practices.
It rejects the claim of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board that the perverse practice of Nikah Halala as prevalent today cannot be questioned because it is Qur’anic.
The defence of a practice which is demeaning to women is shameful and totally contrary to the teachings of the Qur’an. What’s more, such blatantly discriminatory, unjust, anti-women and unconstitutional views contribute to the Sangh Parivar’s brazen ongoing agenda of demonising all Muslims even as it sheds crocodile tears out of pretended concern for “our Muslim sisters”.
Read together, verses 2:229 and 2:230 of the Qur’an state: “A divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness (2:229); So if a husband divorces his wife (irrevocably), He cannot, after that, re-marry her until after she has married another husband and He has divorced her. In that case there is no blame on either of them if they re-unite (2:230).”
As has been conclusively established in the Shayara Bano case, as the Quran prescribes an elaborate procedure which must precede a divorce, triple Talaq (instant divorce) is un-Qur’anic.
As many an Islamic scholar has pointed out, before the birth of Islam it was common practice for some men to treat their wives as playthings. They resorted to the practice of frequent divorce to torment their wives, keep them hanging, and prevent them from marrying another man. Verses 2:229 and 2:230 were aimed at protecting women from such exploitative and unjust treatment. This is what may be called Nikah Halala in the Qur’anic sense.
In sharp contrast to this, and notwithstanding the Supreme Court order of August 2017 invalidating triple Talaq, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board continues to maintain that though repugnant in theology, the practice remains valid in Islamic law. In keeping with this worldview, the current-day practice of Nikah Halala is nothing but a “one-night marriage” wherein a Muslim woman victim of triple Talaq is forced to have sex with another man who then promptly divorces her to facilitate her re-marriage to her former husband.
Thus a Qur’anic methodology aimed at protecting women from being treated as a plaything has been perverted by the Ulema and turned into its very opposite: an arrangement that effectively reduces a woman to a sex toy.
Nikah Halala as practised today is nothing short of a shameful sex-racket, and that of a particularly obnoxious kind. Not only does it demean and degrade a woman, she or her family is obliged to pay for the “service” provided by a man for a fee that runs into tens of thousands of rupees. The said “service” is often provided by a Maulvi or a mufti himself. IMSD condemns the current-day Nikah Halala practice and anyone who endorses it.
For similar reasons, IMSD supports the outlawing of polygamy, Muta (temporary marriage) Misyar (traveller’s stop-gap marriage).
IMSD also has serious issues with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s recently declared intent to create ‘Darul Qazas’ all over the country. The Board’s announcement fuels the Sangh Parivar and its lapdog media’s communal propaganda that Muslims owe no allegiance to the law of the land and are setting up their own parallel “Sharia courts”.
Some legal luminaries among Muslims claim that Darul Qazas are in fact only a kind of alternative dispute redressal (ADR) mechanisms which are sprouting all over the world as the “new norm”. For the Board, however, it is but evident that they propose to resolve marital disputes in accordance with their idea of the Sharia or Islamic law.
The question before IMSD is this:
What justice can Muslim women victims of triple Talaq, Nikah Halala, polygamy, Muta and Misyar marriages expect from a clergy that proclaims such blatantly discriminatory, anti-women practices are in keeping with “Allah’s laws”?
The press conference held in Mumbai on July 19, 2018 was addressed by Javed Anand (Convener, IMSD), Feroze Mithiborwala (Co-convener), Hasan Kamaal (Member, Working Committee) and Zeenat Shaukatali (Member, Working Committee).
Javed Anand Feroze Mithiborwala