Sunday, 26 March 2017

Muslim women voting for Yogi Adityanath should be the last nail in the coffin of triple talaq

It is claimed that many Muslim women in UP voted for Yogi Adityanath's BJP. Yes, the Yogi whose supporters, in his presence, asked Hindus to excavate graves of Muslim women and rape their dead bodies. They voted him, it is said, because Adityanath promised to protect them from the scrouge of triple talaq.

If there is even an iota of truth in this claim it should have dealt a huge blow along the spine, if they have any, of the community compelling them to seriously work on the issue of triple talaq and other laws and practices oppressive and unjust to women.

I don't see any reasons to disbelief this claim as something similar happened during the first part of 20th century. This was before passing of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. Muslim law as it was practised at that time didn't provide for ways to get rid of husbands even if it was not possible for the women to continue to live with their husbands except by committing suicide, or becoming apostate. The later was far more easier as Christian missionaries also came to their rescue. Women only need to utter some words declaring their unbelief of Islam. Muftis would declare them apostate and consequently their marriages dissolved. Women increasingly resrted to this device.

This dealt a huge blow to the Muslim leaders and intellectuals of the time. The philosopher and poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal led a campaign for reforms of relevant parts of the Muslim law forcing a conservative Deobandi Mufti like Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi to revise the laws/fatwas. In 1931, after several years of extensive consultations with muftis in India and abroad, he published a long fatwa entitled "al-Hilat al-Najiza li'l-Halilat al-'Ajiza" (A Successful Legal Device for the Helpless Wife). In the revised fatwa, Maulana Thanvi argued that apostasy did not annul the marriage contract and could not be used as a legal device. He agreed that judicial divorce might be used to provide relief to Hanafi Muslim women, invoking Maliki doctrine in support of this point. (See Muhammad Khalid Masud, "Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftis and Their Fatwas" (Harvard University Press, 1996) Chapter Sixteen, pp. 193-203.)

This booklet provided the basis of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. The Act provides for ten grounds for Muslim women to obtain a decree of the dissolution of marriage from a court of law. A decree for dissolving marriage made avaialable for the reasons that for a term of four years the particulars about the husband are unknown, the woman has been abandoned by the husband or he failed to provide maintenance for the woman for a term of two years, the husband has married another woman contravening the provisions of Muslim Family laws Ordinance, 1961, the husband has been subject to imprisonment for a term of seven years or more etc., the nonperformance of marital obligations, impotency, insanity, leprosy, virulent venereal disease, cruelty etc. or any other legal causes can be taken as ground for getting divorce. This Act is still in force.

It is obvious that this time there is no Muslim intellectual who has the courage to follow the foot steps of Allama Iqbal and lead a campaign and force the likes of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi to revisit the laws and abolish triple talaq and polygamy.

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