Shias for pro-woman talaq laws

The All India Shia Personal Law Board has proposed to widen the scope of divorce by a Shia woman in its model nikahnama, reports Masoodul Hasan.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2006 03:28 IST

The All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) has proposed to widen the scope of divorce by a Shia woman in its model nikahnama.

The board will present the document at its annual conference in Mumbai on November 26 and “it is for the Shia society to accept it”, said chairman of the board Maulana Mirza Mohd Athar. Talking to the media on Sunday, Athar said religious leader Ayatollah Syed Ali Sistani (Iraq) had approved the draft nikahnama. Athar said the document had also been legally scrutinised by experts in India. He said Shia women facing various domestic hardships would have right to approach religious leadership to seek divorce.

Even though women have right to divorce under Shia jurisprudence, the board has only added some more points to make it “pro-woman”. But there is no departure from the tedious process of divorce. As per the draft document, women would have to approach religious leadership, which is a common practice, for this purpose.

In India there are few agents of Iran and Iraq based Ayatollahs who have the power to execute talaq. This process is extremely long-drawn and the board has no solution to this. The present nikahnama does not have any written commitments on behalf of the husband.

“I have no mechanism to implement it — the new nikahnama,” Athar said. He said the bridegroom would have to sign a declaration before nikah, in which he would guarantee some basic rights to the bride. The declaration would also include financial and social status of the bridegroom. The bride would have right to move religious authority for divorce if her husband fails to comply with the written assurances.

Expressing concern over gross under-representation of Shias in elected bodies and other governmental organisations, Athar said that the board had submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year but there was no response.

The board chairman said the Mumbai session would raise the demand again. There was also the need of a “Shia community policy” so that it could properly commit itself to religious and national commitments. Athar, however, refused to comment on the veil controversy generated after film actress-turned-social activist Shabana Azmi’s statement. He also expressed resentment over the branding of Muslim community as terrorists. He said it was dangerous trend and could lead to serious repercussions.


First Published: Nov 06, 2006 03:28 IST