The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Income push for Muslim women

July 4: The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board today urged the Centre and state governments to amend laws to ensure that Muslim women have the right to income generated from agriculture.

The board, which met in Kanpur in the backdrop of a debate over triple talaq, said Muslim women’s rights were infringed upon in the wake of the abolition of the zamindari system.

A board delegation will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, requesting them to make a concession to Muslim women as such a provision is envisaged in Shariat law.

A board member told The Telegraph that according to the Shariat law, even after marriage, Muslim women continue to have a right to ancestral property, including farm income.

The member felt that as property does not fall under personal law, the government should take the initiative to provide the income guarantee, which could have far-reaching implications in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

On triple talaq, short of disapproving the dreaded provision, the board tried to push through a set of social reforms amid murmurs of dissent.

The board, an apex body of various Islamic theological schools, heard divergent views on various methods of divorce. At the end of the day, there was near-unanimity on two counts. First, neither can triple talaq be prohibited as such nor does the board have the legal or religious mandate to do so. Second, Muslim women deserve a better deal.

Board chairman Maulana Rabey Nadvi set the ball rolling, referring to what he described as “misconceptions” regarding divorce. The maulana said no society, particularly Islam, encourages divorce.

The question, he said, before the board was how to offer a free and easily accessible legal apparatus to Muslims across the country to redress civil problems.

He proposed that Muslim schools, scholars and community leaders take the lead in spreading awareness about the true spirit of Shariat laws and formation of community courts, Darul-Qaziat. He lauded the board for coming up with a proposal to set up such community courts across the country.

The board views these community courts as a way to settle civil matters such as divorce, maintenance and marriage.

A board member said that even when members of the community approach a civil court, the party that loses the case usually seeks shelter in Muslim personal law to avoid enforcement of the legal order. He said since the community courts are rooted in Shariat laws, such an excuse will no longer be available to the loser litigant.

The board also discussed the Babri issue. Most members said the board should wait for a judicial pronouncement, instead of exploring an out-of-court settlement.

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