| Imrana at a news conference in Muzaffarnagar in June. (Reuters file picture)
Oct. 19: The woman whose rape by her father-in-law had brought an edict to separate from her husband today saw her assailant sentenced to 10 years in jail.
But Imrana Bibi’s fate still hangs in the balance, with clerics expressing contradictory opinions on whether she can resume her married life with husband Noor Ilahi.
Some Muslim scholars said it was up to Imrana, 29, to decide if she would stay in the marriage or walk out of it, since the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence offer a variety of options.
At the district and sessions court in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, where they had arrived separately, Imrana and Ilahi said they wanted to live with each other.
But some local imams said the conviction of Noor’s 66-year-old father Ali Mohammad now decisively rules the Imrana-Ilahi marriage invalid.
“Since the court has convicted Ali Mohammad of rape, under Islamic law this would be proof enough to declare the convict as husband of the victim and her husband would now be treated as (her) son,” said the state president of the Association of Imams, Mufti Mohammad Zulfiqar.
After the rape in Muzaffarnagar’s Charthwal village on June 6 last year, Ilahi had pronounced the triple talaq, probably under pressure. A few days later, the local panchayat asked the couple to separate as they must now be considered mother and son.
After leading seminary Dar-ul Uloom of Deoband backed this, Imrana went back to her parents’ home in Kukra. She has spent the past 16 months there, looking after her five children, but has been in touch with Ilahi.
Today, Imrana arrived in court with her brother but left after finding herself the focus of media attention. Ilahi said: “I’m neither happy nor sad. But I can’t leave my wife.”
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board spokesman, Qasim Rasool Illyas, cautioned the Muzaffarnagar clergy against issuing fatwas against the couple staying together. “Please remember that rape is haram and it cannot spoil a pious act such as nikaah that is halal,” Illyas said.
“(But) there are other socio-economic dimensions that need to be considered.”