Board plans to conduct a census of Shias | india | Hindustan Times
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Board plans to conduct a census of Shias

THE ALL-INDIA Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) has decided to undertake its own census to ascertain the population of Shias in the country. The board would formulate a national policy for Shias so that they could have a distinct identity and serve the country, while remaining loyal to their religion, AISPLB chairman Mirza Mohammad Athar said at a news conference here on Tuesday.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 01:25 IST

THE ALL-INDIA Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) has decided to undertake its own census to ascertain the population of Shias in the country.

The board would formulate a national policy for Shias so that they could have a distinct identity and serve the country, while remaining loyal to their religion, AISPLB chairman Mirza Mohammad Athar said at a news conference here on Tuesday.

The board has also come out with a model ‘nikahnama’ that aims to arbitrate in marital disputes so that couples do not have to approach the court of law. The ‘nikahnama’ (code of marriage) would have provisions to settle marital disputes by means of arbitration by Shias, Athar said. “A ‘nikah’ is a sacred contract and both parties (husband and wife) have the right to incorporate their own conditions in it so that any future disputes arising from it can be resolved amicably,” he said.

Maulana Athar said couples would not have to go to courts to resolve matrimonial disputes and even if the matter did go to the courts, the ‘nikahnama’ would also be helpful to the courts in reaching a decision. The old ‘nikahnama’ is outdated.”

The new code would be sent to the highest Shia cleric Ayatollah Al-Sistani of Nazaf in Iraq for approval and then to legal experts in the country before being finalised, he said.

Issues like maintenance of the wife after divorce had also been addressed in the ‘nikahnama,’ he said. He expressed the hope that the code would be tabled at the board’s annual general meeting in Mumbai on November 26.

On a different note, the AISPLB chief denounced the newly formed Muslim groups headed by religious leaders and said they were ‘communal’ and against the national interest. “The outfits which represent only a particular religion are detrimental to national integration,” he said. In an obvious reference to the newly formed People’s Democratic Front and the Muslim Political Council, Athar said that Muslims, instead of forming their separate outfits, should try to resolve their problems by joining the national political parties.

Replying to a question, he said the religious leaders and clerics should not join active politics, as it undermines their image. “Religious leaders should confine themselves to religious activities and they should not enter active politics,” he said.