FIRST, A bunch of clerics issue a fatwa declaring Imrana’s marriage null and void after a local court declares her father-in-law guilty of raping her. Their outrageous suggestion: her husband was her son after the rape. The Darul-Uloom Deoband then goes ahead and ratifies the fatwa while the Muslim Personal Law Board remains astonishingly silent. When that raises a ruckus, individual members of the Board decry the fatwa with no official word from the Board.
Surely, Imrana can well do without this pack of people sitting in judgment over her marriage.
However of late, members of the Board are now coming out against the fatwa.
“There is no question of the shariat law in this case of rape,” said Imam Eidgah Maulana Khalid Rashid, a senior member of the Board. He said had the shariat law been applied, the accused would have been stoned to death. Rashid, who represents the 300-year-old Firangi Mahal known for its “authentic fatwas” said the edict against Imrana’s separation from her husband was illegal. He said even the Muzaffarnagar court had only dwelt on the rape case, not the divorce.
Another AIMPLB member, Dr Naim Hamid, also rejected the fatwa. He said there was no question of the marriage being annulled. The vice president of the All India Shia Personal Law Board Maulana Mohd Taqi said “the rapist has been convicted and there will be no adverse impact on her marriage”. He said the marriage will stay as long as Imrana’s husband doesn’t pronounce talaq.
Patronising stuff. But what does the holy Quran have to say? The Quranic verse (Surah Al-baqra) is specific about how men have to be kind to their ex-wives.
"When ye have divorced women and they have reached Iddah or the waiting period, then retain them in kindness or release them in kindness. Retain them not to their hurt that ye transgress. He who doth that hath wronged his soul”.
Verses Al-baqra and Al Nisa are full of instructions to men about how men cannot be condescending.
The Deoband had based its edict on a verse of Al Nisa (The woman) which says “and marry not those women whom your fathers married, except what hath happened (of that nature) in the past. Lo! it was ever lewdness and abomination and evil way”. In the next verse, Quran says, “Forbidden unto you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sisters’ daughters, your foster mothers, your mother-in-law, wives of your sons.” But the holy book does not mention anywhere that rape by a father-in-law is ground to annul a marriage.