Age Islam News Bureau
23 May 2017
Photo: Students gathering to protest against an alleged racial attack. (ABC News: Kathleen Calderwood)
• Nikahnama Barring Spot Talaq to Get AIMPLB Push
• University Of Technology Sydney Students Rally Together After Muslim Women Allegedly Attacked
• Christian Wife Forced To Live With Husband Who Converts To Islam
• Afghani Women Weave Their Lives, Thanks To UAE
Fata’s Forgotten Women
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
New Rules Bar Instant Triple Talaq, Set 3-Month Window
May 23, 2017
By Seema Chishti
Of the eight-point guidelines in the affidavit submitted by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the most noteworthy is the last.
It says clearly that those pronouncing triple Talaq, instantaneously, should be boycotted, socially.
The Guidelines stipulate that couples must try and overlook each other’s shortcomings and not rush to dissolve their marriage. It urges families to step in if there is a marital dispute, try and save the marriage and also calls for setting up of an arbitrator from each side.
Triple Edged Sword Of Triple Talaq Is Not Divorced Of Politics
In case of a relationship breaking down irreconcilably, it reiterates three methods of divorce it sees as Islamic and advisable.
The first is if the husband pronounces Talaq, he must do so at a time when the woman is not menstruating, what is termed the “purity period” (paki ki haalat).
The jurisprudence behind this being that it is a time of discomfort for the woman at any rate and this must not be added on to her troubles. The “waiting time” (iddat), is traditionally of three months and must be waited out.
In case there is no reconciliation, then the couple may be deemed divorced and free to lead separate lives. In case the wife is pregnant then the “waiting period” will extend to the time that the child is born, with all expenses to be paid by the husband and the dower too paid immediately if not paid earlier (the dower or meher is part of the Nikah-nama, a pre-settled amount to be paid by the husband in case of divorce).
The second method prescribed is when in three successive months (when again, the wife is not menstruating) the husband has to pronounce divorce once each month.
In case, before the pronouncement of the third Talaq, a reconciliation takes place, the marriage holds. If it does not, then the couple are deemed to be divorced and free to lead independent lives.
The third method is of Khula, where a woman, if she does not want to live with her husband can divorce him.
Nikahnama Barring Spot Talaq to Get AIMPLB Push
May 23, 2017
NEW DELHI: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court on Monday that it will request Qazis to advice brides and bridegrooms to agree to a Nikahnama that bars the man from uttering triple Talaq in one go to end the marriage.
The AIMPLB's affidavit was filed by advocate Ejaz Maqbool in response to a query from a five-judge bench headed by CJI J S Khehar on Thursday whether the board was ready to advise brides to exercise their right to seek exclusion of triple Talaq for her would-be husband if marital ties turned sour later.
The board said, "The person performing the Nikah will advise the groom that in such cases, the man shall not pronounce triple Talaq in one sitting since it is an undesirable practice in Shariat."
However, it did not refer to its earlier stand before the SC that the wife could also, if delegated by the husband, resort to Talaq to end a bad marriage.
In its fresh affidavit, the board said, "In case the wife is not willing to live with her husband, then she can terminate this relationship by 'Khula'." The board also said the Qazi will advise both the bride and bridegroom "to incorporate a condition in the Nikahnama to exclude resorting to pronouncement of triple Talaq by the man in one sitting". "The board will issue this advisory through its website, publications and social media platforms to those performing Nikahs," AIMPLB said.
The affidavit was the latest in a series of concessions by the AIMPLB, a body essentially representing the clergy, as it tries to stave off the threat of the SC outlawing the controversial practice. In the process, it has disengaged itself from the position that triple Talaq is integral to Islam. Going by the board's latest stand, triple Talaq does not qualify to be an 'essential practice'. The board also brought to the court's notice an April 16 resolution passed by it, which decided that "those who resort to triple Talaq in one go leading to creation of problems thereafter should be boycotted by Muslims". The AIMPLB said "this social boycott will be much helpful in decreasing the incidences".
University Of Technology Sydney Students Rally Together After Muslim Women Allegedly Attacked
Sydney, 22 May 2017
At least 150 students and staff have protested outside the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in response to an alleged attack on four Muslim women.
Two weeks ago four women wearing Hijabs, aged 18-23, were allegedly attacked by a 39-year-old woman outside the university.
Three were UTS students while the fourth was a student from the University of New South Wales.
The attacker was arrested and charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault.
The protestors gathered in front of the UTS tower for the rally, before walking to the site of the attack where they drew messages on the ground condemning racism and welcoming Muslims.
Law and politics student Aishah Ali from the UTS Muslim Association said she was shocked and upset when she found out about the attack.
"It made me feel really anxious and paranoid during that week ... it could've been me, I walk past that building constantly," she said.
"We should not have to look over our shoulder [or] constantly be overwhelmed with paranoia in an environment that is deemed to be a safe place of learning," she told the rally.
"Female or not, Muslim or not, we do not deserve to be afraid."
Ms Ali said she thought acts of racism were still called out and condemned in public.
"I think it's important to take an active stance against issues like this from becoming normalised," she said.
"[We want to spread] awareness of the issue, awareness to stand up and not be afraid of the consequences, especially if it's something to do with the wider community.
"It's an issue that affects everybody in different ways."
Verity Firth from the Social Justice and Equity and Diversity Unit at UTS said the university actively opposed racism, with the vice-chancellor making a submission on proposed changes to 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
"We are determined to create a campus culture of inclusion and acceptance," she said.
"I stand with you all here today pledging zero tolerance for racism at our campus."
Christian Wife Forced To Live With Husband Who Converts To Islam
May 23, 2017
Pakpattan, Pakistan: May 22, 2017. (PCP) A Christian woman named Shakeela Bibi cries before Muslim judge in open court that she cannot live with her husband to has accepted Islam with his family but Muslim Judge is mum and comments that she must also convert to Islam and live with her husband.
Shakeela Bibi uproars that she is not ready to abandon her Christian faith and ready to leave her husband but none is ready to help her not law of land nor prevailing Islamic system of state.
According to reports, Shakeela Bibi a young Christian lady along with her Poor father Manna Masih met with Christian attorney Javed Sahotra and told him that she married to Aslam Masih, a christian male with consent of parents.
Aslam Masih and his parents converted to Islam 4 years after marriage because they reside in 23 /E.B Tehsil Arifwa District Pakpattan where their family is alone Christian family.
After conversion of Aslam now his name is Muhammad Aslam. Mohammad Aslam has filed two suits against Shakeela Bibi Christian lady regarding Restitution of conjugal rights and suit for declaration that shakeela is Muslim.
Shakeela Bibi also filed petition for dissolution of marriage against Mohammad Aslam on the ground that her husband changed his religion.
Shakeela Bibi is crying before the court of Mohammad Asif learned judge family court Arifwala that her religion is Christianity. At last She requested to Attorney Javed Sahotra and Sajid Christopher for persuing her cases and Save her belief.
Javed sahotra will file his power of attorney on fixed date 22 may 2017, on behalf of innocent young Christian lady and will protect her belief in the court of law.
Afghani Women Weave Their Lives, Thanks To UAE
May 22, 2017
Dubai Festival City will be displaying their work alongside artistic works by renowned Emirati artists.
A UAE initiative is helping empowerment of Afghan women and war widows by giving them employment opportunities in their country.
Under the Fatima bint Mohamed bin Zayed Initiative (FBMI), 4,000 Afghan women are employed to weave carpets in their villages of Afghanistan. Some of the carpets woven by these women were gifted to former US president Barack Obama, the Pope and other world leaders.
Dubai Festival City will be displaying their work alongside artistic works by renowned Emirati artists who want to support the FBMI, under the initiative 'Artists for Change' from May 21 to June 16.
"The initiative offers sustainable employment opportunities. So, there are no handouts or charities. They get employment and alongside they get social services, such as healthcare for the families and education for the children," Farshied Jabarkhyl, FBMI regional manager, told Khaleej Times.
"The aim of the foundation is to empower women and help children, so one of its departments is the women's affairs department that looks into counselling for women who have been victims of domestic violence, abuse and any other issues they have - whether it's psychological or physical."
Jabarkhyl said that handmade carpets are one of the largest exports in Afghanistan and is among the most income generating. He said weaving carpets is the heritage in Afghanistan and most women already possess the skills, however, never received an employment opportunity until now.
He said many women cannot leave their homes due to the conservative society. So FBMI brings the resources to their homes to continue their employment with the programme.
A 2016 Human Rights Report on Afghanistan by the US State Department showed that only seven per cent of the country's workforce are women and that they continue to face gender discrimination.
Jabarkhyl pointed out that a growing number of Emirati artists are showing interest in the initiative and donating their art for the cause.
This year, four Emirati artists were invited to be a part of the initiative - Sheikha Wafa Hasher Al Maktoum, Sheikha Mariam Khalifa Al Nahyan, Shamsa Al Abbar and Mohammed Harib.
Their artworks were woven into the hand-knotted carpets by the FBMI female weavers.
"We have a lot of Emirati applications coming in from people who want to help empower Afghan women and bridge the gap between the privileged and the underprivileged platforms. The work we have are from renowned artists, who are VIPs and from royal families. They have donated their artworks," he said.
The FBMI is also indirectly impacting 25,000 other Afghans as employment opportunities are provided from collecting the wool all the way to exporting it.
All proceeds of the FBMI carpet sales go to the weavers in the form of salary, access to health and compulsory education for their children.
What, where and when
Exhibition of carpets and artworks of Emirati artists Sheikha Wafa Hasher Al Maktoum, Sheikha Mariam Khalifa Al Nahyan, Shamsa Al Abbar and Mohammed Harib under Artists for Change initiative
Venue - Dubai Festival City
Date - May 21 to June 16
Fata’s Forgotten Women
May 23, 2017
HINA Shahnawaz was 27-year-old when she was murdered in Kohat in February 2017. Working for a non-governmental organisation in Islamabad, she was her family’s sole breadwinner.
Educated and with a promising career trajectory, hers was an extraordinary achievement for an unmarried tribal woman — so extraordinary that it evoked the anger of her semi-educated male cousin.
When she refused his marriage proposal, he shot her in the heart in her own home because, according to Rewaj (tribal custom), she was a blot on his clan’s honour.
For women like her, achieving socio-economic emancipation is often tantamount to death. “Women are treated worse than dogs under Rewaj,” explains a young woman from Kurram Agency who has been ‘exchanged’ through a Jirga decision to settle a feud.
In the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, women have been invisible and voiceless for centuries.
Because women cannot be seen to be counted, their population is based on estimates in the absence of official figures.
According to the 1998 national census, Fata’s female population is 1.5 million, with around a three per cent literacy rate.
The region has long been considered a difficult, if not impossible, area to access. And because Fata and most of the Pakhtun belt is a militarised and controlled space, it is impossible to investigate incidents of abuse and violence against women.
“Fata has always been treated as a strategic space where people have been denied their political rights for 70 years,” says Bushra Gohar, a senior member of the Awami National Party (ANP).
Deprived of basic education and healthcare, women have suffered the most from this neglect.
Dowry is legal, property is denied to women when it involves shared lands and a woman is considered her family’s honour — to be bought, sold, bartered and killed.
Also read: The Fata merger: Towards a brave new world
“Women risk punishment, even death, if the honour of the clan is violated,” explains Sakeena Rehman, an ANP representative from Mohmand Agency. When Noreen Naseer, an activist from Kurram Agency, conducted a survey in her area of women’s views on tribal practices, most matriarchs were resigned to their fate — but younger women expressed anger at oppressive customs sanctioned through the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).
Ms Naseer, who teaches at the University of Peshawar, claims that “even a 21st century Pakhtun man believes his cultural practices are superior and that tribal society is egalitarian.”
In the process to mainstream the tribal areas, is the state acting like its colonial predecessor and bargaining away women’s rights?
Absent from the table
There are no mechanisms in the almost 120-year-old FCR to protect women against practices such as Swara, Badala-I-Sulh (‘exchanged’ to settle feuds), valvar (‘exchanged’ for money), ghag (being forcibly ‘claimed’) and honour crimes.
According to Ms Naseer, most tribal families have experienced at least one honour killing. Given the prevalence of such violence, why have crimes against women gone largely undocumented?
“There are no police stations in our tribal areas to register cases; there are no courts or independent tribunals. Women are at the mercy of informal justice systems,” Ms Naseer explains.
She is involved with the Qabaili Khor (tribal sisters) network, comprising about a hundred women, including Ms Rehman.
Explore: The Fata merger: The proposed Rewaj Act — a new FCR?
Advocating in favour of mainstreaming Fata, they want the judicial system to extend to Fata — but is anyone listening?
“Our women and girls want to go to school, but all they do is collect sticks from the mountains and walk miles for water.
Change will come only with a legal system that replicates the [country’s] judicial mechanism,” Ms Rehman posits.
One of two women on the seven-member ANP reform watch committee, she believes women’s voices must also be heard through jirgas, especially if they are to have a role in a reformed set-up.
Whether that actually happens is to be seen, but disrupting a centuries-old patriarchal order will require time and political will.
Ms Gohar concedes that it is not easy for women to be nominated onto all-male consultation committees.
“Political parties must take responsibility, as the reform package will go through a parliamentary committee.
Parties must be put on the spot for not nominating women to key decision-making forums. Women should not be absent from the table,” she says.
The FCR and the Rewaj Act
There is no mention of women in the colonial-era FCR, with one exception — Article 30, Chapter IV: “any married woman, who knowingly and by her consent, has sexual intercourse with any man who is not her husband, is guilty of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which many be extended to five years or a fine or both.”
The complaint must come from a husband or a guardian, leaving women vulnerable to abuse.
In November 2015, Fazeelat Bibi, accused of committing adultery, was killed by her brother-in-law in Khyber Agency.
Her husband filed a case with the FCR commissioner in Peshawar against the jirga and political agent in Landi Kotal, who had sanctioned her murder under rewaj.
“She was property, so she was used as a sacrificial goat,” says Ms Naseer. Even if justice is served in her case, it will come too late.
“Our state has forgotten women,” human rights activist I.A. Rehman says.
When a six-member, all-male government committee made recommendations, including replacing the FCR with the Rewaj Regulation for Tribal Areas, women’s rights were sidestepped.
Recommendations include the jirga system — with no reference to women’s inclusion — for civil and criminal matters, with the court appointing a council of elders to adjudicate in accordance with tribal customs.
The jirgas will inherit all the traditions of the FCR jirga, including indifference and hostility towards women. There is no reference to women’s inclusion in the new jirgas,” Mr Rehman says.
Ms Gohar concurs, “Rewaj is the new face of the FCR. Vested interests want the status quo to remain untouched, and they include the civilian bureaucracy, the military and the maliks.”
Having witnessed jirga decisions followed in her area, Ms Naseer says, “Almost all jirga members have killed female family members in the name of honour.”
She believes that most jirgas comprise illiterate people with no knowledge of forensic sciences or DNA tests.
“Elders are paid allowances by political agents for sitting in jirgas so, yes, they will resist abolishing this centuries-old system. Customs of rewaj are also manipulated for their benefit,” she tells Dawn.
The way forward is marked with uncertainty: how will the state allow the people of Fata, women included, to move into a new social and political status?
“Laws cannot be made without social development and education, and without women’s participation,” Mr Rehman points out.
So far, the voices of tribal women have been ignored. Just how much say is allowed to women in male-dominated consultative bodies in the future can only be imagined.
But without their participation, it will be impossible to mainstream tribal communities and bring reforms to this historically neglected part of the country.
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