“Leave the holy books alone” – a follow up

I’m posting more information on the reactions to the Law Commission’s report on bigamy/polygamy and on how to curtail bigamist converts from misusing Islamic Personal Law; and my observations –

In my earlier post I had analysed how wrong Shri Jagannathan was in taking the Law Commission to task for referring to the Koran’s authority on the matter. My position was that there is no other way and our logic of religion based Personal Law can assume of no other possibility. I had also explained why I was in favor of such Personal Laws with the suggestion that the only way one can prevent bigamist converts is by disallowing conversions altogether.

Now to the reactions

– Namaste

Those opposed to the report’s recommendations:

“Justice is the basis of bigamy. The commission should also know that this issue is outside its purview,” Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, the spokesperson of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said in an interview.

Maolana Abdul Khaleque Madrasi, on behalf of the Islamic institution Darul Uloom Deoband, said that Muslim clergy would not tolerate any reading of Muslim law that was tantamount to interference into Islam.

“[The] Indian constitution provides religious freedom to all citizens. A Muslim man can marry more than once, as Islam permits it. We condemn this [law commission] report,” Mr Madrasi said.

Aziz Mubaraki, spokesman of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan Masjid, said the Muslim personal law was perfect and only those who had no knowledge of Islam or Muslim personal law could call any part of it “gravely faulty”.

“Islam permits up to four marriages, but in very stringent conditions. However, some Muslim and non-Muslim men might be committing bigamy or polygamy even in the absence of such conditions just to fulfil their sexual urge in a mischievous way. Muslim personal law should not be blamed for the fault committed by some sex-maniac men,” Mr Mubaraki said. “Islam does not allow a marriage which is driven only by physical attraction and sex.”

Pala S – It’s plain that Muslim supporters of bigamy/polygamy cite the Koran and the Hadith’s authority on their side.

Those that support the report’s recommendations with some personal experiences –

“The system of bigamy is inherently unfair to women and such practices should be stopped,” said Arshan Alam, an assistant professor at the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies in Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi.(Pala S – This is similar to the Law Commission’s recommendations but without any explicit or implicit reference to the Koran. It would be interesting to see Shri Alam’s reaction if pushed to refute any support for bigamy/polygamy in the Koran. )

The chairperson of the Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board in Lucknow, Shaista Amber, said: “Since the system [of bigamy and polygamy] is being misused, there should be some control over it. Muslim laws permitting bigamy or polygamy are extremely strict but they are not being followed properly.” (Pala S – No refutation of Koranic support to bigamy/polygamy. Just some “misuse” of the practice is mentioned. How does a Muslim man misuse the right to marry more than one wife?)

Earlier this year, the Delhi-based Allama Rafiq Charitable Trust conducted a survey among Muslim women in Delhi and western Uttar Pradeshand found that 96 per cent were against bigamy.(Pala S – Not surprising. However the Koran and the Hadiths support the practice.)

“Very surprisingly, except for just five women, all of them said that they did not approve that their husband, father or brother married more than once,” said Maqsood Ahmed, the president of the trust.

Ms Begum said until a woman experiences what she went through, it is impossible to fathom the repercussions that a husband’s additional marriages can have.

“People in our village called us ideal lovers, until my daughter was born. Then, suddenly, 15 years after the marriage, he fell in love with a younger woman and dumped me last year,” said Ms Begum, who recently joined a bulb-making factory as a labourer.

“He has taken a second wife illegally. I loved my husband, I was healthy and I was able to perform all duties that a wife is supposed to do. But I know I cannot get justice now simply because he is Muslim and has the so-called right to keep up to four wives. I am devastated.”

Pala S – None of the above refute or even want to refute explicitly, the Koran and Hadithssupport to the practice of bigamy.

–Varta–

Palahalli S – In such circumstances when it’s clear that none, not even those Muslims who are opposed to bigamy/polygamy, are courageous enough or willing to refute the Koran’s authority; why should the State take the responsibility of reforming Muslim Personal Law? And if the State nevertheless does, then it places itself in the position of discriminator and repressor against and of Muslims in Hindusthan. It should avoid such thankless assignments.

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