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Islamic Sharia Laws (01 Jan 2010 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Shah Bano returns to haunt

By Sandeep B

December 30, 2009


Muslim Law Board’s criticism of SC judgement upholding the right of a divorced woman to get maintenance from her husband smacks of an attempt to foster separatist tendencies

Every application by a divorced woman under Section 125… of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, pending before a Magistrate on the commencement of this Act shall, notwithstanding anything contained in that code… be disposed of by such Magistrate in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”

This quote is from that spectacular, Congress-created monster called the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. That it was one of the chief factors leading to Rajiv Gandhi’s downfall is purely incidental, and depending on which side of the fence you are on, equally led to the rise of ‘Hindu fundamentalism’. Also, that the entire Red Spectrum rues till date that this Act was the undoing of about 40 years’ of their ‘hard work’ is also incidental. But all these are incidental because we see subtle portents that this phenomenon is eminently capable of self-renewal. All it needs is a simple perpetuation of the current political climate.

On December 4, a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Deepak Verma and Sudarshan Reddy upheld the right of a divorced Muslim woman, Shabana Bano to receive maintenance from her husband.

I don’t believe in the supernatural but it’s slightly eerie that the latest victim of that Congress party-created monster shares the same last name as her predecessor, Shah Bano. This news appeared in a remote corner in the newspapers in direct contrast to the Shah Bano affair, which in the 1980s was both front-page news and the subject of passionate editorials that played out for months.

Predictably, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has issued a veiled threat of sorts. It has chastised the Supreme Court’s judgement as a “direct interference in Muslim personal law” and “against the Shariat.” In keeping with the times, it has pulled a buy-one-get-one-free stunt. To quote Mr Khalid Rashid the spokesperson, “the AIMPLB will … apprise the Government of its stand on… the SC verdict awarding maintenance to Shabana Bano and the Liberhan Commission report.” We wonder how the two are connected.

The AIMPLB today amounts next to nothing compared to its phenomenal power of communal blackmailing in the heady 1980s and early 1990s. But it’s better to be on guard and call its bluff before it decides to get bolder. Indeed, Shah Bano happened because we failed to nip such divisive calls in the bud. Perhaps the AIMPLB has forgotten that Indian Muslims are Indians first and everything else later. The AIMPLB’s statement can reasonably be interpreted as a stealth-attempt at encouraging and fostering separatist tendencies.

The Supreme Court doesn’t really care what the Shariat says and consequently doesn’t need to give a whit about ‘interfering’ in Muslim personal law. India is not Saudi Arabia.

The AIMPLB’s attack of the Supreme Court’s judgement only highlights the plight of poor Muslim women and the urgent need to address this. The National Commission for Women given its 17-year-old history has done precious little to help these women. Those in the celebrity cocktail issues circuit haven’t had any ‘spontaneous’ emotional outbursts at the heart-rending situation of Shabana Bano. Perhaps Shabana Bano’s ‘crime’ of being unable to bring in the dowry demanded by her husband’s family isn’t chic enough in the secularist and women’s liberation quarters. To be fair, a lone article in the Indian Express welcomed the Supreme Court’s judgement. But that article didn’t delve into the fundamentals, something everybody wants to avoid. Also, the (non) Opposition, the BJP is yet to emerge from stupor given that the Shah Bano affair was one of its biggest scoring points back then.

And what everybody wants to avoid even mentioning is the fact that Indian society cannot survive for long unless a solid Uniform Civil Code is implemented starting now. But the history of Muslim appeasement that began under Jawaharlal Nehru has, Frankenstein-like, spun out of control. The placation is only increasing with time and reached a miserable pitch when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proclaimed that Muslims have the first claim on nation’s resources: The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has already granted 100 per cent approval, and released funds for 21 districts in Uttar Pradesh to ‘uplift’ minorities with more districts to follow.

In a way, the AIMPLB is irrelevant today because the UPA has taken upon itself the task to systematically satisfy every whim of the minorities before they even demand it. And so, if the combined clerical might of the Muslim lobby applies enough pressure, the UPA might ‘reconsider’ the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of Shabana Bano.

But it’s an even greater pity that this issue is not getting the coverage it really deserves.

Source: The Pioneer, New Delhi

URL of this page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-sharia-laws/shah-bano-returns-to-haunt/d/2311


  • We can learn a lot from the reforms enacted in Morocco. Ziauddin Sardar writes, "Morocco has provided a clear lead. The family law in Morocco, known as Moudawana, was based on the traditional Islamic rules on marriage, divorce, inheritance, polygamy and child custody. Women's groups and enlightened Muslim scholars had been campaigning for decades to change and reform it without much success. But 9/11 and its aftermath provided a new impetus.

     A special commission, which notably included women, was created with the specific task of producing fresh legislation based on the principles of Islam. The resulting family law, which was introduced on the statute books in February 2004, sweeps away centuries of bigotry and bias against women.

    The new Moudawana allows a woman to contract a marriage without the legal approval of a guardian. Verbal divorce has been outlawed: men now require prior authorisation from a court, and women have exactly the same rights. Women can claim alimony and can be granted custody of their children even if they remarry. Husbands and wives must share property acquired during the marriage. Men are no longer the 'leaders' of the family; both husband and wife share the leadership role.

    The old custom of favouring male heirs in the sharing of inherited land has also been dropped, making it possible for grandchildren on the daughter's side to inherit from their grandfather, just like grandchildren on the son's side. As for polygamy, it has been all but abolished. Men can take second wives only with the full consent of the first wife and only if they can prove, in a court of law, that they can treat them both with absolute justice - an impossible condition. Every change in the law is justified - chapter and verse - from the Qur'an , and from the examples and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad.

    And every change acquired the consent of the religious scholars.

    With the exception of the gripes of a few extremists, the new shariah has been widely welcomed, even by the Islamist political organisations. Justice and Development Party described the law as "a pioneering reform" that is "in line with the prescriptions of Islam and with the aims of our religion" ."

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin -

  • The SC judgement is absolutely faultless on the grant of maintenance to the Muslim divorced women.The Muslim personal law also needs to be codified to bring it in line with the changing situations.
    But the exuberance and language of the author exhibits his narrow minority baiting attitude rather than any contribution towards a progressive societal outlook.Such attitudes would only create an atmosphere for the communal bigots of all hues to strangle the forward march of a true secular approach to the forward evolutionary advance of a civilised society.
    How can the changes in religious personal laws be disentangled with methods to address the economic deprivations in the society? Economic backwardness definitely creates a fertile ground for vested interests of all hues including the religious ones to work on the gullible insecurities of the deprived sections. While addressing these eonomic problems the necessity to address also the relatively most depressed ones with a more focussed approach arises.
    Hence the absolutely necessary approach of taking special interest in giving a focussed approach to the minority Muslim impoverishment,which is widely acknowledged to possess a much higher percentage , cannot be classified as minority appeasement.May be ideally if there was a system where there was no iniquitous distribution of wealth ,then such steps would not have been necessary.
    Taking all these factors into consideration,bodies like AIMPLB and Deobandi's  should only try to aid in updating Shariat laws in consonance with what is happening in Muslim countries like Turkey,Morocco,Indonesia and Malaysia.Further they should streamline all their energies in putting pressure on the Govt to enhance facilities for education,health and othere societal necessities of the Muslim deprived masses rather than wasting time on regressive issues which only help a small section of the vested interests in the community. Further it would strengthen the hands of the Hundu bigotry parties like the sangh parivar . All care should be taken to not give a chance to the now receding sangh parivar by supplying  issues in a platter as done by Rajiv Gandhi in the late 80's.
    Kasim Sait
    By Kasim Sait -

  • Why can't people get married under the Special Marriage Act 1954 which gives equal treatment to both (husband and wife). There is no religious interference in this act and divorce is also easier, especially by mutual consent.

    All controversies regarding the so-called personal laws will become irrelevant and there will be no need to amend these personal laws if the clergy does not want. It is for the individuals to decide whether they want to be guided by the clergy or, by a secular law which applies to everybody irrespective of religion.

    If someone is happy with existing personal laws so be it. Those who do not want these personal laws can opt for secular laws and there should be no objection. Can somebody throw more light on the subject.

    By Ashok Sharma -

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