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JULY 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-07 No:163    *   JULY 2000 / RABI-UL-THANI 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

INTERVIEW


"Review of Constitution is Potent Threat"

Interview : Maulana Mujahidul Islam, President, Personal Law Board

"Review of Constitution is Potent Threat"

"Change of Maslak is not Approved for the sake of undoing Three Talaq"

Maulana Mujahidul Islam"There cannot be any opportunistic modification in the existing Muslim Personal Law” says Maulana Qazi Mujahidul Islam, the new president of the All India Muslim Personal Board. The renowned Islamic jurist from Patna who recently assumed the office of the Board after his election in May, opposes any rethinking in the existing provision of validity of three talaqs in one sitting and affirms that the provision carries approval of the four masalik (schools of jurisprudence). Sharp witted and a keen observer of the national scene, Maulana Mujahid is currently seen to be the man with the widest influence among Muslims all across the country. Maqbool Ahmed Siraj talked to Maulana Mujahid in Bangalore recently on several national issues.

What are the challenges ahead?

The review of the Indian Constitution by the NDA government has raised grave apprehensions in the minds of all secular minded people in the country. While Babri Masjid and Uttar Pradesh Religious Places Regulation Bill are also issues of concern, sinister motives could be read in the move to review the Constitution of India. Changing the Constitution has always been on the agenda of the Sangh Parivar, the present government has merely initiated a debate on the review of the Constitution in order to get nearer to the ultimate goal and is testing the cohesiveness of the NDA allies with the BJP which forms the core of the current government. Once review report is in hand, the BJP might try to go to the public on the basis of the certain suggestions made by the Commission. Possibly the uniform civil code may be one of the recommendations. In this situation, the BJP would try seeking a clear mandate from the public after jettisoning its allies.

I foresee the BJP agenda of demanding the Directive Principles of the State Policy (which seeks to introduce a common civil code under article 44) to be made enforceable and justiciable just like the fundamental rights. Hitherto, the Courts have held them unenforceable. The most recent assertion of it has come in the Sarla Mudgal case in which a Hindu husband had taken a second wife after conversion to Islam. Even though he married a Hindu woman again, conversion to Islam was a convenient facade to indulge in bigamy. While Justice Krishna had urged the state to introduce a common civil code under Article 4, the double judge bench of the Supreme Court annulled the ruling and maintained that Directive Principles were not enforceable.

Similarly, there are two stands of the BJP on the question of use of Babri Masjid site for the construction of Ram Mandir. While the compulsion of being in government has made the BJP say that it would abide by the decision of the court, the VHP declares that it would not accept court ruling if it does not allow the construction of the temple. The dichotomy is merely superficial. They think and act in tandem but maintain separate stands in order to keep the coalition going at the Centre. If it comes to elections, the BJP may well go to the electorate with the VHP stand and use it to communally polarize the electorate. The BJP is currently unpopular and has not fared well on any front. Communal polarization may well be a ploy to create a new hysteria. This has ominous portents for the nation, peace and integrity.

The question of the validity of the three talaqs in one sitting is still being hotly debated. Some people who find the Hanafi maslak very rigid have begun taking recourse to Ahle Hadith maslak in order to patch up ruptured marital relationships. How do you look at this?

It is neither desirable nor correct to discard one maslak and opt for juristic opinion in another maslak in order to find an instant solution. Even the four leading imams are unanimous that three divorces in one sitting are binding and invalidate a marriage. However, the research in Hanafi jurisprudence deems it a sin and a highly undesirable act to utter three talaqs in one sitting and people are counselled to utter only a single talaq in one sitting. What is needed today is that we bring about a behavioural change among Muslims on this issue and instead of changing the law, change the attitude and caution extreme restraint in such matters.

How do you look at the entry of women into politics and the Muslim demand for sub-reservation for Muslim women in the proposed 33 per cent quota of seats in legislatures ?

Politics has been defined thus in the shariat: “Adoption of the best measures to ensure the welfare of the people while dealing with the collective affairs of the society.” Islam seeks to ensure peaceful family life and organized social life. Men as well women have been entrusted with the responsibility to ensure discipline at the two levels. The responsibility to keep the family life steady mainly rests with women while the economic and outside responsibilities are with men. In keeping with the biological constitution of women and the extraordinary responsibilities of home and family life, involvement of women in political affairs is not approved. This is one aspect of the problem.

On the other side is the Indian ambience where circumstances have been created whereby women are being sucked into the whirlpool of the public life and the pull of the western concept of equality of genders is strong. Efforts are on to make them forget their basic duties at home and demands are being put up by them for reservation of a share of legislature seats.

Now it is for Muslim women to devise a strategy whereby they could take cognizance of both the aspects of Islamic standpoint and the peculiar circumstance prevailing in India. The strategy should be such that Muslim women begin to take some degree of interest in the social and collective affairs and participate in the activities aimed at welfare of the general Indians as well as the Muslim community. In doing this they should maintain the norms of modesty and dignity accorded to them by the shariat.

Has the Muslim Personal Law Board any women members?

We have 15 women members in the 151-member general body. There are women even in the executive committee. More would be inducted into various other bodies.

Should the leadership of the Board be considered as the leadership of Indian Muslims?

It is for you to conclude. All that I can say at the moment is that the Muslim Personal Law Board represents all the sections of Muslims in India. But it deals with the shariat matters. If the Board begins to deal with all problems and issues, its focus would be diluted.

Marriages of convenience are increasing whereby non-Muslims convert to Islam for the sake of bigamy or to divorce the first wife.

We should not encourage any conversion to Islam for the sake of marriages. Islam should not be an excuse. If somebody accepts Islam for the sake of truth, he is welcome. The Muslim Personal Law cannot be an asylum for an individual to come out of uncomfortable situations.

Cases of desertions of wives are more in evidence than the divorces among the lower strata of Muslims. Even instances of burning of brides have come to light increasingly.

This is really disgraceful. The Muslim Personal Law Board will constitute a cell which will go into all such cases and report to us on what happened and why. We will also set up a social counselling center with each unit of the Darul Qaza (sharii adalat) which would include some women members.

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