The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) recently met in Lucknow on the issue of triple talaq. With the case coming up in the Supreme Court on May 11, the meeting was historic for many reasons.
Let me give you the good news first. The AIMPLB issued a few directives: The big one was on the ‘boycott’ of those who misuse triple talaq. Others included strengthening of its women’s cell and helpline, using social media to educate people on the Sharia and declaring nikah halala anti-Sharia. Now the not-so-good one: The AIMPLB said triple talaq via WhatsApp is valid. Triple talaq, whether it is via phone or WhatsApp is unfair: Recently, a national level netball player Shumayala Javed’s husband gave her triple talaq over the phone in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, after she gave birth to a girl child.
The AIMPLB meeting was held at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama with its president Maulana Rabe Nadwi in the chair. On triple talaq, this meeting of self-appointed custodians of Sharia --- AIMPLB --- made a few important pronouncements, which were overdue. I had made my pitch to them in 2000 for internal reform of the organisation, fearing the State could intervene at a later date if changes are not made. But photos showed only men seated in the college boardroom. There was a small women’s wing but mostly invisible. It seems their only purpose was to gather the “two crore, 17 lakh women” who “favour triple talaq”.
As an aside, the institution’s Arabic name --- Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema --- means ‘City of Scholars, Centre of Learning’. I like to understand Arabic formulations, and not allow language to beat me down. When I do that I find it simple. This has been my practice in reading and imbibing the Koran. I have learnt this from the liberal and enlightened men and women in my family who by every standard were exemplary in their profession and practice of Islam. They told me: “Understand the revealed word of Allah according to your own light”. Intermediaries are not needed in a region like Islam which does not have an organised church, a pope or an archbishop. But that pristine strength of Islam, we Muslims abandoned soon after the prophet and the four khalifas. So I have no use for those who claim exclusive prerogative to speak for Islam.
On the directives issued by AIMPLB, I have concerns. While in the right direction, there is no clarity on the implication of ‘boycott’ of men who misuse triple talaq. Will their relatives and neighbours ostracise them? Since there is no provision of excommunication in Islam, will the darul qazas (Islamic courts), which have no status or power, be in a position to sentence them? This is a song without an end, words without substance. On the more ludicrous side is the directive that triple talaq will be valid on Whatsapp if the woman has seen it.
Are matters of life and death such as marriage and divorce to be reduced to connectivity on the net and virtual blue ticks on the smart phone?
Need I say more except quote Allama Iqbal?
Tumhari Tehzeeb apne khanjar se aap khudkushi karegi (Your civilisation will commit suicide with your own dagger)
Syeda Hameed is founder, Muslim Women’s Forum
The views expressed are personal