MERCY TO GOD’S FAMILY : The Messenger of God, Prophet Mohammed, pbuh, said: ‘All creatures are God’s family; and God loves them most who treat His family well and kindly.’(Baihaqi: Anas)
The Messenger of God, pbuh, said: ‘Only those who are merciful will be shown Mercy by the Most Merciful. Show mercy to those who are on earth, He who is in heaven will show mercy to you.’ (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi; Abdullah ibn ‘Amr)
'SC ruling must lead to a Muslim personal law code'
The Supreme Court has once again come as a saviour to give a voice to the Muslim woman of our country. Though it has no objection to the continuance of shariat courts, the Supreme Court has ruled that their decisions will have no legal force. The Supreme Court has not touched upon Muslim personal law. But the court has ruled that fatwas that are often issued by shariat courts are not decrees and cannot be enforced. The court has also said that the fatwas are not sanctioned in our constitutional scheme.
Muslim women including in Tamil Nadu have been hit hard by the conservative, inhuman, cruel fatwas that are given on every aspect of their lives and that restrict their freedom and liberties. The Supreme Court has held that a fatwa has no legal validity.
However the jamaaths and the khazis who derive their power from ill-defined sources continue to precipitate a situation where economically marginalised Muslim women are pressured into following their diktats. The women don't realize that the jamaaths and khazis are not the final court of appeal. Instead these fatwas are used by the khazis and the jamaaths to increment their hold on Muslim civil society without legal sanction.
I must state here that the jamaaths are elected bodies under the supervision of the state Wakf boards and exert a significant influence on Muslim civil society. This is a situation which needs correction.
The jamaaths take their toll on the individual insisting that their decision be obeyed and if this does not happen they hold the threat of excommunication and social boycott which is patently inhuman.
Excommunication and social boycott has the effect of denying freedom of speech and movements, access to livelihood, freedom to bury their dead in the local graveyards and preventing those that have been excommunicated
from participating in matrimonial functions of the family. Yet, despite court judgments that such social estrangement is not valid and against constitutional rights they continue to be practised. In Islam the "khazi" is considered as the keeper of the faith and the law since most khazis are highly educated and are scholars of Muslim law. This can hardly be held true in our country though there are exceptions.
The khazis can conduct and register a marriage. But they are not legally authorised to finalise a divorce or perform judicial functions. Yet the reality is that the khazis validate and issue fatwas regarding divorces with total impunity towards the rights of Muslim women. But the final decree of divorce should carry the judicial stamp which will decide over all other allied issues that ariseout of a divorce. The function of arbitration carried out by the sharia courts has not been inhibited by the Supreme Court. But the court makes it very clear that what emanates from the shariat courts has no legal binding. Yet due to patriarchal attitudes, societal pressures and lack of access to civil courts Muslim women are caught in the web of the khazis, jamaaths and the shariat courts to seek redress which they never achieve.
This judgement should precipitate rapid codification of Muslim personal law, which is the need of the hour.
We owe it to our Muslim sisters that this happens. Silence on this subject will be catastrophic for Muslim society.
(Courtesy: The Times of India dated 14th July 2014)