The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teacher and pilot in model take-off

Bhopal, May 2: The nikaahnama got rolling with two weddings, hours after the All India Muslim Personal Law Board adopted the document on Sunday afternoon.

Maulana Rabey Nadvi, the board's chief, performed the nikaahs at Bhopal's Taj-ul-Masjid. The ageing maulana does not usually solemnise weddings. But when he came to know that Syed Ayub Ali and Mohammed Qasim Khan were keen to be the 'first' to marry according to the model nikaahnama, Nadvi agreed.

In his brief address, he said the real thrust of the nikaahnama was not to give a better deal to divorced women but to cleanse the 'day-to-day' life of the community in India. The nikaahnama makes triple talaq a thing of the past.

The maulana said the board's Bhopal meet was significant as it addressed the 'core issue' of 'islaha-e-maishra' (reforms in society). Nadvi has been repeatedly saying that protection and implementation of Muslim personal law is the board's basic objective, taking up political issues like the Babri Masjid demolition was not the 'priority'.

Ali, an Arabic teacher who married Sana Sultan, said he was honoured to have been blessed by Nadvi. 'I am happy but I am also conscious of the responsibilities that have been bestowed upon me by this 14-page nikaahnama'. The 25-year-old, however, admitted that he was not aware of many of the smaller provisions.

Joining him in the 'first' club was Khan, a trainee pilot with Indian Airlines. His wife Ruhi Fozia said her marriage has begun on a 'good omen'.

The seemingly smaller provisions in the nikaahnama have made the document significant. For instance, a man is expected to be considerate towards his bride. He should let her visit her parents' house whenever she wants to but, the guidelines caution, he should not leave her there against her wishes.

The board's secretary, Maulana Abdul Raheem Qureshi, said: 'There have been cases where men just abandoned their wives at their parents' house. It is wrong and unjust.'

The model nikaahnama places the entire economic responsibility on men. The husband is expected to bear all household expenses, pay for children's education and even provide 'adequate funds' for his wife's expenses. 'Islam provides for use of perfume, hair dye and other permissible beauty treatments. It is the husband's responsibility to provide funds,' said a woman member of the board.

According to nikaahnama, adopted unanimously at the board's general council here, written records of all marriages must be prepared and copies of the agreement handed to both the groom and the bride. Another copy can be kept by the government, if required, or with the local qazi. The guidelines also make it mandatory for parents or guardians of the couple to be present during the marriage.

Board office-bearer Shamsuddin Afridi said the provisions are aimed at discouraging forced marriages.

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