Court vs Culture; Blame educated Muslim men, not mullahs for women

Photo: Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Im

Court vs Culture; Blame educated Muslim men, not mullahs for women's plight

Sheeba Aslam Fehmi

Double standards

  • Educated Muslim men institutionalising oppression by giving triple-talaq

  • Enjoy polygamy and denying women ownership rights to ancestral property

More in the story

  • Muslim women want codification of Muslim Personal Law

  • They say it not mullahs alone who are responsible for their plight

Do Muslim men deserve the dignity, freedom and justice they enjoy when they cannot ensure the same for Muslim women?

No, they don't. And they have to stop behaving that they are Allah's chosen ones.

The audacity of the association of the Muslim clerics called - Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind - that challenged the Supreme Court's right to purview the Muslim Personal Law - is shocking.

The Muslim Personal Law is not a Constitutional feature, nor protected by the Constitution of India. It is a legal policy matter which may be scrapped anytime the government wants.

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Ulema & the courts

How dare Muslim Ulema challenge the Supreme Court and hence the sovereignty of the nation state for their ongoing criminal oppression of Muslim women?

Do not they know that the Muslim Personal law was first created by the British then inherited by the Indian state at the advent of independence, amended and added by Indian Parliament in as recently as 1986.

Do not they know that the Muslim Personal law was first created by the British then inherited by the Indian state?

Hence, there is nothing divine about it.

Allah's chosen ones?

It's a man-made law and would be interpreted by the Supreme Court and other courts of India only or who else will interpret and implement an Indian law if not the Indian courts?

This law can be changed or abolished by the government. By just a simple government order. For no personal laws are protected by the Constitution of India. It's a legal and administrative devise to govern the personal matters of religious communities.

And it's stunning to see that in a 21st century nation state, where do these Muslim tribal lords, unwilling to be governed by the laws and legal courts, get the courage to ask for justice equality, freedom and affirmative action for themselves?

All the while denying the same to their women. At home by continuing with the institutionalised oppression and violence in the form of triple-talaq or verbal-instant divorce.

Or the right to enjoy polygamy, practically denying women ownership rights to ancestral property. Usurping all the endowment funds and properties reserved for the upkeep of orphans and destitute women of the community.

Shocking double standards

Also, it is really shocking to see that while the tribal lords come on air to speak against equality and rights of Muslim women, using their tactlessness and ruthlessness as a strategy, mum's the word for their sophisticated, educated and articulate brethren.

The politically smart brethren don't want to meddle with the tribals because they are poles apart.

It is the educated, modern and articulate class of Muslims that is perpetuating the injustices directly or indirectly

Yet it is these educated, modern and articulate class that is perpetuating the injustices directly or indirectly. By extending the leash allowing tribals to continue with their injustices upon women, they secure a firmer grip over their households, their womenfolk.

Deafening Silence

It is disheartening to see thousands of Muslim male writers, revolutionaries, professors, scholars, doctors, engineers, lawyers, judges, teachers, activists, artists, politicians, bureaucrats-technocrats, businessmen maintaining a deafening silence over the issue.

Never standing up for the women. Never a show of solidarity with these women who are fighting for the very basics in their married life.

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From this momentous silence of the smart brethren emerges the sanctity to continue the atrocities in the name of divine law.

Whereas there is nothing divine about it. Rather it is devilish to secretly enjoy the slavery of your better half through misinterpretations of the (very) text that Muslim women are successfully using for emancipation and empowerment worldwide.

We the Muslim women of India, are NOT asking for Uniform Civil Code or Common Civil Code, we are demanding the codification of Muslim Personal Law in India in the matters of marriage, divorce, polygamy, maintenance, child custody etc.

The more you analyse the centuries-old status quo of Muslim women's pathetic condition inside households, the more you realise that it is not due to the mullahs alone that the wretched plight of women continues.

The biggest beneficiaries

It is the silent affirmation of the ruling and intellectual male elite of the community that gives charities, endowments on which mullahs survive. Yet they never bargain for the reforms which they publicly espouse to end injustices within family.

Also read: Taking the Sharia to court: 2 Muslim women you should know about

They have shown indifference by giving the impression that they are not party to it. Or they are outsiders in this debate to reform the Muslim Personal Laws.

On the contrary they are the biggest beneficiaries of the patriarchal stubbornness of the obscurantist clergy.

In these circumstances, I am compelled to make an appeal to the larger world that Muslim men don't deserve any dignity, freedom and justice unless and until they learn to accord the same to Muslim women.

Each time they stake claim on the fundamental rights to justice, equality, freedom and affirmative action due to religious persecution, please ask back if they are the Allah's chosen ones or they consider these values as universal?

Sheeba Aslam Fehmi