Gender injustice – wherever it exists and whatever its form—is absolutely inhumane and undemocratic . Like other famous religions, Islam prohibits this crime against humanity. One of my favourite English teachers in my school taught me Islam  treats women equal to men. He would quote the Quranic  verse, 'Good women are for good men," and assert men have to be deserving and good to have good women as their life partners.

Recently, a leading journalist based in Islamabad has reminded me of  "The Final Sermon of Prophet The Master Muhammad (PBUH)." The sermon reads :  "O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again.... Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under a trust from God and with His permission. If they abide by your right, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers. ...All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white...”

One can very well discern in the preceding sermons the kind of equality women share with men in Islam . The only inescapable inference here is any denial of justice to women is absolutely un-Islamic. Given such fundamentals of Islam, I really wonder how certain ultra-conservative elements , such as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board in India, still favour the tradition of  arbitrary divorce ( triple talaq).

Pertinently, our Allahabad High Court has ruled very meaningfully on this subject .  Dismissing the writ of an elderly Muslim man who was seeking protection for himself and his second wife, half his age, the Court  observed the other day, "The judicial conscience is disturbed at this monstrosity. The first wife has to live life for no fault of her but for the reason that her husband got attracted to a lady half of her age which is the reason for being divorced. The view that the Muslim husband enjoys an arbitrary, unilateral power to inflict evil instant divorce does not accord with Islamic injunctions.... It is a popular fallacy that a Muslim male enjoys, under the Quranic Law, unbridled authority to liquidate the marriage." 

The Court added, “Muslim law, as applied in India, has taken a course contrary to the spirit of what the Prophet or the Holy Quran laid down and the same misconception vitiates the law dealing with the wife’s right to divorce.... divorce is permissible in Islam only in case of extreme emergency. When all efforts for effecting a reconciliation have failed, the parties may proceed to a dissolution of marriage by Talaq or by Khola.”

The Court lamented, "The instant divorce [triple talaq],  though has been deprecated and not followed by all sects of Muslim community in the country, however, is a cruel and the most demeaning form of divorce practised by the Muslim community at large. Women cannot remain at the mercy of the patriarchal setup held under the clutches of sundry clerics having their own interpretation of the holy Quran. Personal laws of any community cannot claim supremacy over the rights granted to individuals by the Constitution." 

I am sure the Court’s observations would bolster the morale of  enlightened, progressive sections in our Muslim community in their ongoing campaign against  the arbitrary triple talaq .

I hope all our  political parties, too, would  join the progressive Muslims in removing their social evil . We  must see to it that no personal law violates the very soul of any religion and discriminates against any section of humanity .  We must see to it that the rights granted to us by our Constitution are supreme.

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