When will our Muslims assert ?

Human nature is not perfect . Every person or community has its own contradictions. The Indian Muslim community is no exception. It has allowed so many vices to persist within . One such vice has been its tradition of arbitrary divorce (triple talaq) .

The other day a  progressive group of our Muslim artists, intellectuals, writers and poets did well to stress the diversity within the community, reject the  “instant arbitrary triple talaq and  ”   support the demand of Muslim women to abolish it. They also  disapproved of the affidavit filed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in the Supreme Court on the validity of such talaq. In a statement they said,  “We believe that to suppress the progressive demands for equality, led by various Muslim women’s organisations, the most conservative sections of the Muslim community are creating a Shah Bano campaign like situation so that they can keep the women subjugated and strengthen the patriarchal stronghold on Muslim women.” 

I hope all political parties would come along against this evil.  It is heartening to note the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has declared its opposition to this evil . In a recent media interview  the party’s Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat said,  “Muslim women, on the basis of their own experience, have been raising this demand. We unequivocally support the demand against this particular practice of instant and arbitrary triple talaq. It is not there in most Muslim countries which substantiates the point that it has less to do with belief and more with male privilege.”  

There is a near consensus across the enlightened Muslim spectrum that all needed changes in  the medieval Islamic laws could be possible without violating the soul of the Quran . But the Muslim clergy and its ultra-conservative allies have not allowed it to happen.  This demands the progressive forces within the  Muslim community to assert. History is on the side  of the progressives . Ours is an age of science and reason . Human consciousness has attained a stage that demands gender justice in our society . Today there is absolutely no justification for the continuance of any archaic personal laws . 

Aware of this fundamental reality, the founding fathers of post colonial modern India had the  Article 44 in our Constitution. This provision makes the Uniform Civil Code a directive principle of our state policy . In harmony with this spirit of our Constitution  our  first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his Law Minister B. R. Ambedkar  worked very hard to push for a Uniform Civil Code . Then socialists and Communists in our country also backed them . Regrettably , they did not have much success  . 

Regrettably , the post-Nehruvian dispensations virtually ignored the need for the Uniform Civil Code. The Centre overlooked it even when our  Supreme Court judgement in the Shah Bano case presented it an opportunity to push through progressive legislation in this regard.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi would do well to move forward and make this Code a reality .

Pertinently, the current government would do well to  remove  the progressive Muslim group's  distrust towards the Central government on the Law Commission’s consultation over a Uniform Civil Code. The group thinks the current government's  new-found ‘love for women’ and ‘gender justice’ is not genuine .It has alleged , “Since the new regime has come to power, we have seen heavy budget cuts on schemes for women, we have heard horrendous statements about women, which have gone unopposed by the members of the regime, and we have witnessed growing violence against women as well as dilution of gender just laws such as the Domestic Violence Act .” 

Needless to say, the Government must take steps to ensure gender justice in other communities in our Republic . We all know the status of Hindu women is not as improved as it ought to have been by now  .  Despite several personal law reforms related to them , they continue to be discriminated against on the ground . Gender  justice must reach all Indian women on the ground.