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The new nikahnama: a level playing field

It's another high for gender equality. The Muslim woman is lifting the veil to look her male counterpart in the eye.

lucknow Updated: Aug 17, 2008 22:54 IST
Pankaj Jaiswal

It's another high for gender equality. The Muslim woman is lifting the veil to look her male counterpart in the eye. On March 17 this year, the nikahnama (marriage contract) was reworked in favour of Muslim women. In less than five months, on Tuesday, the same was implemented, thus empowering Muslim women and making them equal partners — rather than victims — in matrimony.

Victimised by triple talaq (instant divorce), Muslim women came together to release a “pro-women, model nikahnama”. Aimed at making marriages “stable and secure”, the new version make husbands more accountable. It also grants immunity to the wife from triple talaq.

Only last Tuesday, for the first time in history, a Muslim wedding was solemnised by a woman Qazi — Dr Syeda Hameed, Planning Commission member — who is an Islamic scholar. The groom, Imran Ali, presented a cheque of Rs 51,000 as meher (to be given by the groom as security) to his wife.

All this has raised eyebrows. “Imran and I signed the contract which doesn't allow triple talaq,” the bride, Naish, told HT. “A woman qazi performing the nikah helped me put my belief of gender equality into practice,” said her husband, Ali.

President of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board Shaista Amber is upbeat about the nikahnama. “But about a woman playing qazi… I’m not too happy,” she said.

Salma Sultan, newscaster and member of National Waqf Council, said: “If the nikahnama brings about some security among women, it is a welcome move.” Cleric Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, Naib Imam, Idgah says, “We too denounce triple talaq at one go.”