Thursday, June 23, 2016

Muslim women and some challenges NIKHATH FATHIMA SUHAIL - The Hindu

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Muslim women and some challenges

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crime, law and justice


The age of ignorance is long past; the age of reasoning is here

To constantly blame the scriptures for the injustices that have permeated though the ages is unfair. Knowledge and perception should play the role of the alleviator in such contexts.

Triple Talaq and its incorrect usage by both sexes once again seem to have opened the Pandora’s box of the subject of a Uniform Civil Code and the state’s disregard for Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.

How does the southern part of India handle this hullabaloo? It doesn’t do it very well. The society or community we belong to does it for us — automatically. The shores of Tamil Nadu are testimony to the powers of Kannagi, and in the present times, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. We have amidst us products of learning, from the convents of the nuns who spread the need to be educated and approach all things including faith with due reason, and from the thousands of pallisat mosques, temples and village schools, which teach the wisdom of Thiruvalluvar and the courage of Bharatiar. Be it a Mallika Srinivasan, a Preetha Reddy or a stalwart like the late Fathima Akhtar, standards have been set for success in various fields, be they political, medical, educational or service to society at large.

Women in general face pretty much the same issues: gender discrimination, being taken for granted, and having to prove constantly that they have their place in the fields they choose to be a part of. Islam gives women all rights necessary for a dignified living; it also gives them the right to leave a marriage that is not conducive to her. In Islam, there is no pathi parmeshwar; neither is there a need to placate the greed for dowry. The fact that women perpetrate these malpractices as mothers and mothers-in-law, or simply fall prey to age-old practices of ritualistic traditions, is their own folly.

Taken in this context, the Muslim women of Tamil Nadu, and in particular Chennai, face all the very same challenges that other women do. There is the need to address their right to be educated, to progress and be counted as citizens in the process of policy-making. To shed the burden of eons of gender prejudice is a struggle that women face almost every day. As long as she pays obeisance to man, she is regarded as safe!

Child abuse, marital abuse and other forms of violence the people of Tamil Nadu handle with the same sense of diligence and attention for all communities within the State. The land of Periyaar does not shy away from neighbourly deeds; every neighbourhood becomes the vanguard of its dwellers. One need not belong to a particular religion for the neighbour to pick up a phone and call the authorities to warn them of wrongs happening in their locality, or simply come over in numbers and challenge the wrongdoer. Secrecy exists mostly in the upper echelons where abuse and wrongdoing are beautifully veiled in the sophistication of luxury and wealth.

Present patterns of family discord have strong connections to liquor, and Tamil Nadu has its fair share of this misery. It is mind-boggling how such a clear directive principle of state policy of our Constitution is completely sidelined. Liquor has wreaked havoc with lives and ruined many a home. Men have become addicts and there is a growing dependence on freebies — the panacea for political parties that want to stay in power. There is a palpable imbalance in that earning the hard way seems to be a thing of the past. There is more free time for the vices that corruption and laziness bring. Those women who face the added difficulty of having their men addicted to liquor only find that their struggle never gets a breather. Here, Talaq pales in comparison to the trauma of what alcohol and drunkenness inflict, on such a large scale. Why should Article 47 of the Constitution be ignored? Why don’t those who lobby for women’s justice stand for a ban on liquor consumption? There are lobbies and there are lobbies... One wonders at the justice of it all!

In terms of finances, inheritance is still not given to many women where it is their due, be it a Hindu woman or a Muslim woman. Their right to work in family owned businesses is usually usurped among the richer classes. The same fight for justice goes on in all the communities. In the middle and lower middle income category where women earn and take care of the family with little or no help from the male counterpart, the financial burden is overwhelming. Women seem to have accepted the role of being the one who must compromise, and they continue juggling various responsibilities. Raising a family, and being balanced and honest individuals and upright citizens, become challenges. The achievement of her children’s education and dreams take prime slots in her book of goals. Ensuringkhana, kapada and makaan leave little energy for any detailed understanding of the scriptures, whichever the text.

Muslims of Tamil Nadu have always felt Tamil in their veins, mostly because they are children of the soil and partly because of the weaving in of religions and communities so effectively. The beauty of ‘live and let live’ seems to give rise to the need to exist in solidarity within the tolerant and vibrant colours of the State’s secular history.

There is a Jamaath active in almost all neighbourhoods here. The TMMK, the TNTJ, the JIH, the Tableegh Jamath and the Jamiath Ahle Hadeeth are active in locales where their mosques allow them to reach out as guidance counsellors to the families they oversee. Here, the practice of triple Talaq is not encouraged. There are the usual misunderstandings, the age-old problems of mothers-in-law staking their claims, the daughters-in-law being unsoliciting of intrusive relatives, and wives who will not rest with what she has but needs more each day. The counsellors of the various mosques have so far done a fabulous job putting together families as opposed to allowing women to be wronged.

From Kannyakumari to Chennai, Erode to Karaikal, ‘Triple Talaq’ is rare, and if the practice does exist, it is dogma that is politically connected to the survival of a few who believe in ensuring a blind following without reason. Here, the Koran and the Hadeeth hold fort above the diktats of any other. Sharia is prime. The very nature of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was inclusive of all four schools of thought within Islamic jurisprudence, and on that very premise, the south will choose reason and sense over blind allegiance. In most places, triple Talaq may be pronounced as three but is (most often) considered as one. Mediation occurs and reconciliation thereafter. One doesn’t really bother if life can be simpler, problems are solved and hearts mended.

The AIMPLB, on its part, has made provisions in the contract of nikah, bringing about clauses that will in circumstances of strife, benefit women, in the Nikah-Nama booklet it has printed: a ‘pre-nup’ in many ways, being advocated all across India. To educate 180 million Muslims the Board will need coordinated planning and networking from the four corners of the nation. Stringent measures must be put in place to protect the rights of women and, where they are divorced, their walis or guardians must be checked upon. The South is already liberal in adopting the fiqh (jurisprudence) that is suited to the people. In many Muslim countries that follow the Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali fiqh, triple Talaq is banned. Here one realises the benefit of Islam’s flexibility.

Where the husband chooses to rid himself of executing responsibilities completely, he will walk away from the commitment of marriage, with or without Talaq. These individuals are to be commonly found. The reasons can be psychological, mental, physical and financial. There could be lack of commitment, or simply the need to disregard those bound to him. This malaise actually afflicts all communities, irrespective of religion.

In general, the institution of marriage itself is in danger. Live-in relationships are becoming commonly accepted in a society where marriage was once regarded as sacred. Extra-marital affairs do not help, and the tacit acceptance of such concepts is hardly shocking to the Tamil mind today. Divorce rates have risen all over India. Muslim divorces may be the least in comparison with other co-existing faiths. Family values, sacrifices, sharing and caring within the framework of marriage have taken on a very convoluted understanding of late.

Tamil Nadu is home to the Hanafi, the Shafi and the Ahle Hadith. The Ahle Hadith are those who follow all four jurists, namely Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. To them the easier path will be the one they choose. In matters of Talaq, Maliki fiqh is adhered to. What does happen is that even if three Talaqs are pronounced, it is the equivalent of a single Talaq and there is a chance to marry by making nikah and resuming life where they left off. The Halaalah does not figure in here, at this juncture. 

Making life less complicated, is what fiqh or jurisprudence does!

Hanafi fathers bring their daughters to Ahle Hadeeth scholars to receive a ruling that will allow their sons-in-law a second chance to make the marriage work. Here, Talaq will come under the Koranic injunction.

Tamil Nadu is simply literate, and therefore is an amalgam of the best.

Under Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki and Hanbali Jurisprudence, Talaq is done as per the Koran and clear verses are given thereunder. The 12 beautiful verses of the sixty-fifth chapter named ‘Talaq’ have elucidated the process and warned of the wrath of the Creator upon those who choose to take justice lightly. Alimony is her right and the provision for her child or children is obligatory. Verse 6 of this chapter clearly commands a home for the divorced woman as per the man’s means, where she may dwell in comfort and dignity. Islam will always stand for justice.

On the other hand, triple Talaq, which is being blown out of proportion as an issue, can actually be a boon to many an abused woman. There have been cases where the mother walks into her chamber only to find that the man she married is either molesting or raping her daughter. Cases of abuse have been reported where step-fathers malign the trust reposed in them. And in some cases, even perverted fathers have done the same. Will this mother ever want to have anything to do with such a husband?

Incidents where the husband returns from a long sojourn abroad, where he would have braved difficult conditions in order to ensure the family’s sustenance, only to walk into an unpleasant situation of having to witness his wife with another man, are also not uncommon. Where there is clear evidence of the woman having chosen to be unfaithful to the trust that marriage demands, there is no room for mediation. Infidelity is as old as relationships itself. Triple Talaq here will only annul that marriage, which the wife has chosen to do herself.

The essence of triple Talaq is that it is allowed under extraneous circumstances and is not the norm. To go on harping on triple Talaq as though it is the monster that breaks marriages and oppresses women, is ridiculous. Men and women who simply do not agree to live together break marriages. Good riddance to wife-beaters, abusers and sick-minded losers who value their women so little, that they pick up the phone in a cowardly manner and walk away with a ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’.

If this is the tool the right wing will use to implement a Uniform Civil Code and thereafter perpetuate one ideology, annihilating in its path the vibrant pluralism of India, then let us bid adieu to the secularism our great nation was founded on, the freedom we so rightly earned and the sagacity of our coexistence.

(The author is a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. E-mail:

Keywords: TalaqMuslimswomen's justice

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

This Muslim organisation’s campaign for a ban on triple talaq is commendable but blinkered - By Flavia Agnes - MAJLIS


This Muslim organisation’s campaign for a ban on triple talaq is commendable but blinkered

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan is making no effort to address wider concerns faced by triple talaq victims, like domestic abuse and economic deprivation.

This Muslim organisation’s campaign for a ban on triple talaq is commendable but blinkeredImage credit:  Photo credit: BMMA
Jun 20, 2016 · 12:30 pm  
6.5K Total views
As part of its campaign against triple talaq, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has been circulating short personal stories of women on social media in a series titled “3 Seconds Divorce”. One story is posted for every day of the month of Ramzan to remind religious members of the Muslim community of the need to ban instant triple talaq to secure the dignity of the affected women.
Among the eight women whose stories have been posted so far, the first is from Mumbai, the next four are from Tamil Nadu, one is from Rajasthan and the last from Maharashtra.
Most of the women were married young. Their literacy levels are not known but the fact that they have little earning skills is apparent. These hard-hitting narratives of these women rooted in their socio-economic context of poverty and destitution are authenticated with photographs and names. They end with a one-point agenda in support of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan campaign – ban triple talaq.
Address wider concerns too
I find the rigour and singular focus with which the andolan has pursued its cause and gained public support both from the media and progressive Muslims commendable.
But my point of discomfort is that while the narratives provide a socio-economic context of the women’s lives, and suggest that these are the root cause of their misery, there is a disconnect.
There seems to be no effort to address these wider concerns. The women do not seek any other mechanism for redressing the acute domestic violence, economic deprivation, desertion, extra-marital affairs of their husbands. All they desire is a ban on triple talaq, as if it is a magic wand that will end the multiple issues that are causing misery in their lives.
These women are entitled to legal remedies and protections within their marriage and upon divorce. However in these stories, and throughout its campaign, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has consistently ignored this. The framing of these stories makes me wonder if this is a deliberate manipulation of these women’s personal miseries to suit the agenda of the andolan.
I find the first story of Mumbai-based Rubina Sheikh, 32, most tragic. As her husband had deserted her, she wanted maintenance. She approached the Andolan’s Aurat ki Shariah Adalat, or women’s court, in 2015. She did not approach the family court in Mumbai or the magistrate’s court to secure her right to maintenance.
In her own words:
“[The] adalat called him for reconciliation. While negotiations were still going on, he orally pronounced talaq three times and walked off. The adalat did not accept the divorce and pressurised him to pay maintenance. My husband said he had divorced me because he did not want to stay with me and wanted to marry another woman. He remarried after giving divorce to me.”
No legal standing
Here the use of the word adalat itself is a manipulation. Anyone reading it may think it is a formal court or at least a recognised sharia court or a qazi court – which also does not have the power of a civil court but there is an acceptance of these courts within the Muslim community – but this is neither.
It is an NGO devoid of any power or authority to enforce its orders, yet the name Aurat ki Shariah Adalat conveys the impression that it is a formal sharia court, vested with authority. The adalat is similar to thousands of counselling centres run by NGOs, which offer “counselling and reconciliation” either in their own offices or in police stations. But rather unfortunately, Islamic scholars such as Zeenat Shoukat Ali seem to endorse this illegal practice.
If the woman wanted maintenance all she needed to do was to file an application in the magistrate’s court under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, or the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, and secure orders which are enforceable.
The story also shatters two more myths which the andolan propagates – of Muslim polygamy and that a Muslim woman has no rights after talaq.
Sheikh states that her husband gives her Rs 5,000 a month as maintenance but he is in a position to give more as he is working in Qatar and her children are studying in an English medium school. The so-called adalat is still negotiating with him to increase her maintenance. This refutes the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan claim that after pronouncing talaq the woman is not entitled to any maintenance from her husband. So I fail to understand whether Sheikh’s need is to a higher amount of maintenance, or a ban on triple talaq. Secondly, remarriage after divorce is not polygamy.
In these stories, one can identify the socio-economic barriers that are faced by women in broken marriages across communities.
Why only triple talaq?
The question then is: what has the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan done to spread awareness among Muslim women for self reliance through skill training, job opportunities or avenues of private entrepreneurship so that they have something to fall back on if the dreaded sword of triple talaq falls on them?
One can argue that this is not the Andolan’s core activity and they are a rights-based or a campaign-based group. So then why did none of the women, with the Andolan’s help, challenge the un-Islamic triple talaq in a court of law, and secure their rights of maintenance and residence under the Domestic Violence Act?
It is indeed sad that to score a point on triple talaq, the andolan deliberately does not refer cases to Majlis – where we deal with thousands of women, both Hindu and Muslim, facing similar problems – or to any other women’s rights lawyer in the vicinity, but decides put out the negative story to score a point.
Our office is situated just about three bus stops away from the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan office and we have addressed many meetings organised by the andolan and also provided legal support to the women who approach that organisation. But now, the andolan does not refer Muslim women in need of legal interventions to Majlis, and instead decides the cases in the Aurat ki Shariah Adalat, set up by them, even if it ends in the denial of crucial rights to the concerned woman.
Would this not amount to the deliberate manipulation of a woman’s misery to create a negative story?
Flavia Agnes is the co-founder of Majlis, a forum for women's rights discourse and legal initiatives.
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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fox News’ unholy war on Islam: Rudy and the gang pine for the days of George W. Bush

Fox News’ unholy war on Islam: Rudy and the gang pine for the days of George W. Bush

Told not to wear abaya, DPS Srinagar teacher quits school - Written by Bashaarat Masood - The Indian Express

The Indian Express

Told not to wear abaya, DPS Srinagar teacher quits school

Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said, “We live in a multi-religious, multi-cultural set-up. We have a secular fabric (and) no force on any such issue will be accepted. We are not France.”

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: June 19, 2016 4:34 am
Delhi Public School, DPS, Srinagar, abaya, Srinagar abaya, DPS Srinagar abaya, Delhi Public School Srinagar, DPS Srinagar, india newsWent by school rules, DPS Srinagar principal told students
THREE DAYS after a teacher of Delhi Public School (DPS) Srinagar who had come to work in an abaya (a long, loose cloak worn by women) resigned, after the school management allegedly asked her to choose between the abaya and her job, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Saturday called it a “serious issue” and said that J&K is “not France”.
Responding to Independent MLA Engineer Rashid’s question on the issue during Zero Hour in the Assembly, state Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said, “We live in a multi-religious, multi-cultural set-up. We have a secular fabric (and) no force on any such issue will be accepted. We are not France.”
The minister, who is also the spokesperson of the PDP-BJP government in the state, was referring to France’s ban on headscarves, turbans and other conspicuous religious symbols in public schools. The teacher, who taught Biology, resigned on Wednesday after school authorities told her that she cannot wear it “inside the school”, she told The Sunday Express on Saturday.
The incident had come to light on Friday when students of the premier school boycotted classes and exams and sought an apology from the school management. The students also demanded that the teacher be recalled. “I was not given any contract or explained any conditions when I joined,” said the 29-year-old teacher, who did not wish to be named.
“The principal was absent for two months. After she returned, she sent a message that I should not wear abaya. She categorically told me that Islamic dress is not allowed on the school premises.” “The (school) chairman later also told me that I should not wear it inside the school. When I refused, I was told that I have to leave the job.”

According to the students, when asked about the issue, the principal told them that the school is “following rules” in issuing the warning to the teacher and contended that the school law says “no female teacher can wear abaya inside the campus during working hours”.
Calling it a “serious issue”, Akhtar said the government would get to the truth of the matter. “It (DPS) is a private school. We will get to the truth of it (the issue of banning abaya in the school),” he said. “We believe the (school) management is sensitive to the issues here.”
While the government tried to firefight, the separatists said the ban on wearing of abaya in school is akin to “interference” in practice of religion. “Jammu and Kashmir is a Muslim-majority state and to raise objections on wearing of an Islamic dress here could have serious consequences,” senior separatist leader and Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani said. “There is no moral justification for it. The school should offer an unconditional apology and ensure that such a mistake is not repeated.”
The Hurriyat leader added that the school should not ignore sensitivity of the issue. Mutahida Majlis Ulema (MMU), an amalgam of religious organisations headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said that such “un-Islamic and anti-Muslim measures would not be tolerated”. The school administration did not respond despite repeated attempts for a comment.

The Indian Express

Atleast 50,000 Muslims migrated after Muzaffarnagar riots. Would BJP send a fact-fonding team to Muzaffarnagar: Asaduddin Owaisi

The Hyderabad Lok Sabha member termed as "bogus" the list of 346 families who are alleged to have "fled" Kairana in Uttar Pradesh.

By: PTI | Hyderabad | Published:June 18, 2016 4:41 pm
Asaduddin Owaisi, Owaisi, BJP,  AIMIM, muslims BJP,Kairana, Kairana exodus, Muzaffarnagar riots, hindu muslim, hindu muslim conflict, india news Owaisi claimed “50,000 people had left their original places where they had lived for generations” after the Muzaffarnagar riots, and termed it as “mass uprooting” of minorities after country’s Independence.
Claiming that 50,000 Muslims migrated after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday asked the BJP if it would send a fact-finding committee there, akin to the one sent by it to Kairana on the issue of alleged migration of Hindus.
The Hyderabad Lok Sabha member termed as “bogus” the list of 346 families who are alleged to have “fled” Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, adding that it suited the interests of both the BJP and the Samajwadi Party to create a “drama” over the issue.
Owaisi claimed “50,000 people had left their original places where they had lived for generations” after the Muzaffarnagar riots, and termed it as “mass uprooting” of minorities after country’s Independence.
“Would the BJP send a fact-finding committee? Would the BJP find some time to send delegation to find out what happened to those 50,000 people who are displaced? (after Muzaffarnagar riots),” he said.
“Basically, they (BJP) have no other issue and this (Kairana issue) shows the real face of BJP that all this talk of development, ‘sab ka saath sab ka vikas’, is all a farce…unfortunately, they are being helped by Samajwadi Party,” Owaisi claimed.
“It suits both BJP and Samajwadi Party. Politically, BJP wants to create a fear among majority community. Samajwadi Party wants to give a message to Muslims that you are insecure if you don’t elect Samajwadi Party. So, this drama suits both BJP and Samajwadi Party,” he said.
When such issue are in the forefront, Samajwadi Party is happy as it does not have to answer questions on their failure to deliver and on “misgovernance”, he said.
Owaisi said the AIMIM would contest the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, due early next year, but added that it was too early to give the number of seats that it would contest.
He said his party was open to forging an alliance in Uttar Pradesh.
“Yes. I have no issue if such a proposal comes. We are open for alliance but we will have to wait and see what happens.”