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Religious Rights of Muslims in India

A serious debate is raging in India on the issue of Triple Talaq among the Indian Muslims. It is serious not because Indians are considering the issue dispassionately in a serious and informed manner. It is serious because of the political capital involved.

Triple Talaq in India is a right of a Muslim man to divorce his wife anytime anywhere by any means pronounced in the presence of the wife or by letter, phone call, SMS or whatever way is chosen by the husband, thrice in one go or at intervals as prescribed by the personal law.

I am using the expression “personal law” instead of the Shariah because triple talaq is outlawed in the advanced Muslim countries, which can rightly claim to be more Muslim than the Indian Muslims.

Saudi Arabia for example has all the copyright on interpretation of the personal law which other countries follow.

So, it gets reduced to the interpretation of the practices under the personal law by those Indian Muslim Personal Law mandarins who think they enjoy absolute rights to interpret it whichever way they like and can’t be questioned by anybody- Muslim or non-Muslim.

It goes without saying that they have interpreted it in a partisan manner for continuing the dominance of the male over the female members of the community.

A number of interpretations are flowing from experts and lay columnists in the media on the subject limited mostly to the meaning and scope of the right to triple talaq.

It is only male centric; the woman counts not in these deliberations.

Triple talaq is not allowed in the neighboring Islamic country of Pakistan, but a debate on the subject in India is a politically sensitive matter.

The moment somebody wants to discuss the suffering of a victim of triple talaq, the opponents from the religious order start a ferocious campaign to stop it as interference in the religious matters of the minority community.

They are instantly joined by the secularist brigades, who don’t even have the faintest idea of what exactly is contained in the Holy Book or what is the personal law about divorce in Islam as in practice in India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan or even Pakistan.

For their political purpose there is no need for this basic knowledge though it would be beneficial for them to read a book like Mohemmadan Law by A.N. Mulla or some other authoritative commentary.

Opposition to discontinue the illegal practice of triple talaq is a guarantee to win the votes of the Muslim community, who are controlled by the Mullahs and vote as directed by them.

They paint the liberal minded Indians demanding end of the illegal practice of TT(Triple Talaq) as “Hindu Extremists” or Hindu Fundamentalists or BJP(Bhartiya Janata Party) followers.

They know that the votes of the Muslim women voters will come to them as the terror of the TT will compel them to surrender to the diktats of the husband who can’t go against the Mullah.

Many a times, the victims have been made to marry the father of the husband, raising their status to that of the mother of her former husband!

The lure of the votes is so strong that even the judgments of the highest court of the country had been upturned in the past by constitutional amendments as in the Shah Bano case during the Congress government of Rajiv Gandhi.

The constitutional amendment was based on faulty premise and erroneous interpretation of the Shariah and the personal law.

The current debate on the subject is another attempt to revive and re-impose the Shah Bano philosophy and suppress the well meaning and well informed discussion on the subject, which seeks to bring the wife in the center of the debate now as an equal to the husband.

 This power the male members of the community don’t want to lose. It will rob them of the dominance they exercise over their wife. It will make the wife a thinking member.

 The agitating non-Muslim secularist women of India from political parties and NGOs are aiding the Mullah view by subscribing to the curtailment of the Indian Muslim women’s right to equality guaranteed under Constitution.

The crux of the matter is that the wife is nowhere in the prevailing Triple Talaq practice in the Indian Muslim community. This is against the Constitutional Law of India.

This is against the Shariah and the Muslim Personal Law, as will be explained hereinafter. But above all it is “unholy” to misinterpret the Holy Book in any religion. The Mullahs have no Divine right to interpret the Holy Book to serve their narrow interests of ruling power over the community and unholy financial gains.

Religious Czars everywhere refuse to admit new or liberal interpretations or update the religious dictates according to the requirements of the times. They are so stubborn that even if the God they worship were to manifest before them and ask them to adopt the changed interpretation given by Him, they would reject it most ferociously and even try to assault Him, unless He does some miracle to convince them!

Does man control God? Should the Almighty submit to the diktat of man? Is God not “free” to interpret, re-write or proscribe His earlier Book? Is He not entitled to visit the land of His own creation, the men & women of His creation and speak into their mind His own mind asking them to adopt newer methods?

The religious Czars have so far not produced a single proof of God having decreed  “enslavement” of women by men. This “unholy” practice originates not from God as stated in the “holy” Book, but from the “unholy” interpreters of the Holy Book.

The world has long been ruled by religion. The priests, denoted by whatever name e.g. Mullah, had taken advantage of the influential position held by them to arrogate to themselves the temporal powers of the Ruler and converted the followers into their personal serfs or slaves. The greatest suffers have been children and women. While the followers had been promised Heaven and all the pleasures of the flesh for blind faith in them (different from faith in God) and whatever they said, the religious rulers indulged in all the pleasures of the Heaven here on Earth itself. Triple Talaq is one of those worldly pleasures devised by them in the name of God Almighty.

Such has been the terrible exploitation under religious practices regarding marriage and divorce that it is time now to change them and bring them at par with the civil practices of the modern open and liberal communities.

Opposing change in the law relating to TT is pernicious politics of the leftists or self styled secularists and those under their influence and fear of losing votes of the Muslim community.

Funnily these secularist  protectors of the Indian Muslims have no love for all the Muslims of India excepting the most fundamental sects of Islam. They can be seen proudly throwing Iftar parties in the name of these Muslims and feast their party cadres at government expenses for one full month over 7 course dinners from star hotels but can never be seen joining other sects or their programs like the Muharram procession or the Bohra community festivals or similar other Muslim sects. For the fundamentalists they would not only wear a cap but also prominently wear a Kafia in which they will get photographed and shown on the TV. Isn’t that crass politicking?

Reforms in the divorce law of the Muslims will not harm the interests of the Muslims in India.

It needs to be noted by our “secular” politicians, who have conducted communal politics for 70 years by now that they have so far successfully incited the Muslims against the Hindus and the Hindus against the Muslims. Unfortunately for them there are millions of highly educated Muslim men and women today than 70 years ago, who understand the nuances of politics of these self-proclaimed secularists. Promising “protection’ to the Muslims from the Hindus, these casteist elements have all along used the Muslim support to only strengthen & perpetuate their own dynastic rule. They shudder at the prospect of not being able to play politics in the name of the Muslims if the community decides to discard the Burqa and outlaw Triple Talaq. They refuse to see the writing on the wall as brought under the spotlight by the voters of all communities in the recently held elections to the Uttar Pradesh(UP) state Assembly, which has opted for development over caste and creed.

 Irrespective of  all the noise these elements might make, Triple Talaq has to end soon. Here is why:

1-Religious rights of Muslims can’t be misconstrued to mean only “religious rights of Muslim men”.

2-These rights are equally available to Muslim women.

3-That is why the Muslim personal law gives the woman equal rights to divorce the husband.

4-Why are the religious mandarins not highlighting this important aspect?

5-The reason is that they have made divorce as easy as simple triple talaq on the internet or mobile phone or personally.

6-The Muslim law does not permit it. The husband has to pay the den-mehar before pronouncing talaq.

7-The law has very rightly provided an inbuilt check on the male propensity of pronouncing talaq as the impression created by the debate on “triple talaq” in public domain tends to validate it.

8-Marriage under the Muslim law is a “contract” between the parties to the matrimony.

9-It cannot be solemnized without committing in advance a huge amount of Den-Mehar ( to be paid in lump sum in case the marriage is broken), which is hugely more than the man can pay, in case of breach of the contract, even in his whole lifetime. Besides, the husband has to pay the wife “kharcha-e-paandaan” (free translation: monthly pocket money). Will the husband pay the amount of the defaulted installments?

10-Someone may have that kind of money but must pay first before terminating the contract.

11-Generally the male partners to the marriage turn greedy to get enormous money as dowry by going in for more marriages.

12-If the woman decides to terminate the marriage, she foregoes the den-mehar and also undergo the period of “iddat”.

13-Let the advocates of the religious rights of Muslims ensure that the man puts in the den-mehar in the bank  account of the wife before executing his pompous privilege of pronouncing talaq.

14-It is no child’s play to pronounce talaq  “at will” without complying with the terms of the contract i.e. the nikahnaamaa.

15-It is obligatory to observe the other provisions of the “contract of marriage”.

16-It is against the Muslim law for the man or his family to demand and accept “dowry” from the woman or her family.

17-This ugly and shameful practice is un-Islamic and unlawful.

18- It is a standing shame on all men or women who seek dowry. Torturing a married woman for dowry is criminal offence amounting to extortion under threat to life or limb.

19- Talking religious rights of the Muslims is just a stratagem to carry on with all the ugly exploitative practices in any society which neither respects contracts nor penalizes breach of contract.

20-Incidentally, India occupies 185th position among 192 nations in matters of breach of civil contracts.

21-We should not allow this attitude/ mentality to vitiate the matrimonial space in the name of religious rights of Muslims or others..

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