Ayodhya out-of-court deal hunt whispers

Bhopal: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) began its three-day deliberations in Hyderabad on Friday amid reports of a behind-the-scenes effort to find a settlement out of court for the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute.

On record, the AIMPLB is against any negotiated settlement. But the presence of Maulana Salman Nadwi with Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Bangalore on Thursday, ostensibly to resolve the dispute through a mutual agreement, has led to speculation whether Nadwi has the tacit blessings of AIMPLB chief Maulana Rabey Nadwi.

Maulana Salman is a close relative of the AIMPLB chief and himself a member of the board that considers itself as an apex body of various Muslim sects in India.

High on the agenda of the Hyderabad meeting is amendments to the model Nikahnama (Muslim marriage contract). A vocal section of the board wants qazis who solemnise weddings to register a written and verbal pledge by the groom that he would not divorce his wife through instant triple talaq.

The instant triple talaq has been termed void by the Supreme Court. The NDA government's bill that proposes three-year jail for offenders is pending in Parliament.

AIMPLB spokesperson Maulana Sajjad Nomani on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to go ahead with the implementation of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, (known as the triple talaq bill).

"The bill is full of serious lacunae and flaws and if they are removed, the board is willing to accept it. The lacunae violate the Constitution and fundamental rights," Nomani said.

Maluana Nomani claimed that the AIMPLB had tried calling on the Prime Minister on the instant triple talaq bill but the PMO did not grant an appointment.

Sources said that at the AIMPLB meeting, tempers ran high when some members asked questions about Maulana Salman's role. Insiders said some members wanted Maulana Nadwi to summarily expel Maulana Salman from the AIMPLB. The AIMPLB membership is by invitation.

In a video released by supporters of Sri Sri Ravishankar, a person resembling Maulana Salman could be heard suggesting that Muslims should accept an alternative piece of land in Ayodhya for the construction of the Babri mosque.

The Hambali school of jurisprudence was quoted to assert that a mosque can be shifted from its original site.

Among Muslims worldwide, there are four schools of jurisprudence - Hanafi, Shafi, Hanbali and Maliki. These schools offer unanimity of opinion on matters relating to Islamic prayer, fasting, charity, haj and interpretation of the Quran. But they differ on penal codes, methods of performing prayers and matters relating to marriage, divorce and inheritance.

Maulana Salman later said he had been talking to many members of the AIMPLB on the Ayodhya dispute and would take up the matter at the Hyderabad meeting.


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