“There are both external and internal challenges. The external challenges we are facing are from the governments, judiciary and people who have anti-Islam feelings and want to take the country forward on their own set agenda. The internal challenges are that despite the rights given in the Qur’ān to women, we have not been able to give them the right they deserve according to the Qur’ān and Sunnah in practical terms,” said Secretary General, Mohammad Salim Engineer while presiding over a symposium on Gender Justice and Family Laws at JIH headquarters on 16 April.
“On personal laws, gender justice, and family laws we have to explain by using the vocabulary which can help to make our stand clear on the subject. It would help others to understand the issue easily and convincingly. The purpose of this symposium is to discuss with the legal fraternity as to how the challenges can be faced legally,” argued the Jamaat leader.
During the inaugural session marked for Case Studies, Facts, and Figure, Advocate Fawwaz Shahin, while speaking on Triple Talaq said: There is no reliable data available on Talaq in the public domain. The only source we have is a national census of 2011. In India, the total number of talaq is 13 lakh 20 thousand of which 9 lakh are women which make up to 68 percent. It is a general trend that divorce rate remains higher for women. When this data came out, it was painted in the media that the higher rate was the only issue of Muslims. In India, in every 1000 marriage, the divorce rate is 2.3 per cent. The percentage of women getting talaq out of 1000 is 3. If we compare it with any developed economy then this rate is very low. Interestingly, out of 9 lakh, women divorced 70 percentage is that of Hindu women and Muslims are 23 percent.
Fawwaz further argued: In every thousand Muslim marriages the percentage of divorcé is roughly 3 percent, which is very low and also low in India because the maximum rate of divorce is among Buddhists, followed by Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. But if we compare separation rate, the maximum is within Hindu women. When this figure of total divorce came out, it was debated in the media that this is all because of triple talaq. There was no clarity in the figure that these were out of triple talaq or by the general procedure. There are only 4 to 5 cases on average per year of talaq that reaches the High Courts in a year which is also very less. He further suggested conducting a small case study to find out the behavioral trend of talaq among Muslims and this would certainly give us more solid ground to debate the issue of talaq more convincingly. Tauhid Alam, a research scholar, spoke on Inheritance while Advocate Abubakar Sabbaq shed light on maintenance.
Speaking during the theme session on Gender Justice and Family Laws, Advocate Feroz Khan Ghazi said that the logic we use to explain our personal laws in the mosques and within the Muslim community may be enough to explain the nitty-gritty of personal laws to others. And for that, we have to explain them in the logic and in the terminology by which they can understand. He also asked to codify these laws because in its absence there will be greater chances of misinterpretation by the courts.
Advocate M.R. Shamshad cautioned that so far there is confusion within the Muslim community and there is a lack of consensus within various sects, we will invite the courts to interpret in their own understanding of our personal laws. We should have a clear cut stand on all the questions that may come up or are likely to arise during the proceedings of the case. There are instances where the courts have crossed their periphery while dealing with issues related to personal laws but even then there is a feeling that Divine laws should not be interfered with and the courts have so far not overruled it.
The Hindu Code Bill was brought immediately after the Partition. Dr. Ambedkar brought a legislation to reform it. There is legislation for Christians and Parsis. As far as Muslims are concerned, we are governed by the secular law of the country in most of the spheres. But in the matter of personal laws, it is left for us to follow as per Shari’ah. Now the most glaring thing is when the Hindu Code Bill was about to reform, there was a system of the state, the system of sacrosanct marriage that was reformed under the Hindu society. The most ardent people who opposed to it were the right-wing organizations which today are shedding crocodile tears for our Muslim women.
The program was organized by Jamaat-e Islami Hind, Delhi and Haryana before the upcoming Muslim Personal Laws Awareness Campaign from 23 April to 7 May. Mr. Asif Iqbal, Asst. Convenor of the Campaign for JIH Delhi & Haryana conducted the program.