Regarding the Uniform Civil Code, there ought to exist an atmosphere where the Muslims feel safe and secure and not wary of the ‘right-wing agenda’ moves to strip them of their very identity.
Muslims in the country are shocked to hear the right-wing rulers of the country talking so enthusiastically of implementing the Uniform Civil Code!
It seems a well planned strategy. Before the 2017 elections in Uttar Pradesh, television channels had started holding elaborate discussions on Triple Talaq, building up the hype for the Uniform Civil Code.
Regarding the Uniform Civil Code, there ought to exist an atmosphere where the Muslims feel safe and secure and not wary of the right-wing agenda that moves to strip them of their very identity.
Today, Indian Muslims are wary of the right-wing, with adequate reasons for this aversion. Facts and figures go to show that Muslims are positioned in the most disadvantaged position, right from government jobs to educational facilities. Not to overlook the biases cum myths cum misconceptions against them. The basic conditions have only worsened for the community in these recent years. Discriminations and disparities and insecurities are increasing.
Today, as steady deterioration spreads out on several fronts, affecting the masses, when I’m asked what’s the difference between a Muslim poor and a Hindu poor, my answer is this: no difference except that the Muslim is surviving amidst insecurity. Yes, the Indian Muslim is apprehensive, living in fear. Mind you, not from his fellow countrymen but from terror unleashed in the form and shape of goon brigades, political mafia, and the blatant biases spreading around.
Muslims cannot openly voice their disgust or dissent for fear of the aftermath. They could be branded militants or anti-nationals. Apprehensive is the Muslim community, as dents mount on the very identity of the Muslims.
Gone are the days of living-on-par. The anti-Muslim propaganda is not just on, but gaining momentum, getting well seeped into psyches. The Muslim is viewed with suspicion. And this hatred and distrust for the Muslim is on the rise. And if one were to read the disparities that the Muslim faces on any given front – housing, education, jobs, healthcare – you would realize the biases and discriminations. The Muslim sits disadvantaged; like a second class citizen. Elements of insecurity are bound to creep in, paving way for the connected aftermath. And the double or triple whammy is that since the Muslim is near-shunned and with that forced to survive in a ghetto. So where is the chance of intermingling and getting to know the community! Also, shrinking are the forums and platforms from where he or she could be heard. This in itself is a worrying sign.
With this in the background or foreground, BJP–RSS’s ‘concern’ for the Muslim women seems unbelievable! Those who seem obsessed with the so-called ‘triple talaq’ ought to shed layers of hypocrisy! Instead, travel to the homes of the lynch victims and see for themselves the plight of their widows and children. Also, BJP rulers have done little to arrest rapists and tormentors of Muslim women during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom and also during the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 and in the other riotous conditions where goon brigades targeted the Muslim community!
I would also point out the two very basics: If the right-wing had been even one percent genuine in their concern for the Muslim women, there’d be no rioting. To be nearer precision, riots wouldn’t get manufactured! Each time a riot is ‘made’ to occur, the worst affected is the minority community, definitely the women and children. Reports on riots show this hard-hitting reality. The aftermath of riots is so severe in certain locales that the affected are too petrified to even speak out!
The ‘Triple Talaq’ issue was played up to such an extent that it reeked of a political agenda. Foremost, Triple Talaq is un-Quranic and with that un-Islamic, so it isn’t a religious issue but more along the social strains. Not to be overlooked is this basic factor – Muslim community in today’s political scenario is going through very harsh times. Compounding the mess, the Hindutva forces seem to be making sure that more Muslim men sit jobless if not arrested along the range of alibis. Hundreds of Muslim men are languishing in jails and prisons in the country … These deteriorating conditions have a trickle-down effect.
It gets relevant to mention that the notion of Triple Talaq is played up although such incidents, of men divorcing their wives in this bizarre fashion, are rare and against the very essence of Islam. Needless to say that if and when such incidents take place, they are blown out of proportion and the impression that’s relayed is that the Muslim men are a barbaric lot and their women a herd of cattle! Needless to add that today’s political rulers miss no opportunity to paint ‘Islam’ in all possible negative shades. Why has this propaganda been allowed to flourish? This could be because the Indian Muslims are lagging on the socio-economic front, and together with that there’s a lack of confidence to counter the communal elements in the very governance. Also, actual issues get lost in an atmosphere where only non-issues are allowed to flourish, so much so it’s become highly fashionable to bash Islam! A national pastime!
Another fall-out of the political climate of the day is that ghettoization is on the rise. Though this trend has been on for years, it has picked up, in keeping with the communal virus spreading out.
Muslim families are living under that constant fear of right-wing goon brigades attacking their women and children. And with that, men folk also put restrictions on the woman and children moving away from homes without a male escort. Patriarchal holds have furthered in these recent years. Also, a considerable rise in the school drop put figures, more so in localities where schools are not too close to the ghettos.
The reality is that Islam has actually provided enough guidelines and precautions and codes of conduct but most sit unaware. As Zeenat Shaukat Ali, who was teaching Islamic Studies at Mumbai’s St Xaviers, had put across: “Wrong interpretations and then wrong perceptions are given.”
And as Danial Latifi had detailed the crucial ‘why’ he had decided to take up the controversial Shah Bano case. I quote from the interview he gave me, “I found Shah Bano to be an over smart woman who took full mileage out of the case. Why did I take up her case? It was not as though I opted to fight for her…I was watching the proceedings of this case with a whole galaxy of lawyers, including the then Chief Justice of India, Justice Chandrachud . It was then, whilst her case was being argued by a junior lawyer, that the chief justice intervened and asked me, why don’t I, as a senior lawyer, fight for her. So I had no choice but to fight for her.”
Latifi had made it very clear that Shah Bano had got her due maintenance on the basis and “strength of Quran’s provisions.”
As he’d detailed to me, “First of all, despite the contrary belief, marriage is a very serious business in Islam. Coming to the chapter on talaq, it is this chapter that lays down all the details including the procedure for talaq and the importance given to the arbitration aspect and, of course, the maintenance aspect. The fact is that triple talaq is un-quranic. In fact, one particular line from the Quran – wa lil mutha laqati mataun bil maroof haqqam alal mutaqqin (unto the divorced woman, a provision that is reasonable in the eyes of God, is obligatory, an obligation for the righteous ) – is enough to provide her status and a decent maintenance. And whilst fighting for the Shah Bano case, I quoted this line and the minute I showed this line to the chief justice, he said that line was enough to get her due, her maintenance. So Shah Bano got her due maintenance on the strength of Quran’s provisions.”
Latifi was against the Common or the Uniform Civil Code and blamed the BJP for making it into some sort of a political issue – “I repeat that I’m not in favour of a Common Civil Code. It is not needed . Also, because it has become a political issue and the BJP and its allies are looking for an issue and want to rake it up. I personally feel the Muslims do not need it.”
The New Delhi sociologist of international repute, who passed away last month, Professor Imtiaz Ahmad, was absolutely firm and constant in his stand against the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code. He’d spoken out that it’s another of right-wing ploys to cause upheavals and disruptions. Also, his basic argument against the Uniform Civil Code was this: There is no uniform definition of marriage in the communities, so why and how will the Uniform Civil Code be implemented! Not to be overlooked is the basic fact that for the Muslim community, marriage is a contract.
Whilst on the Uniform Civil Code I have been speaking to a cross section. And all the Muslims I’d spoken to, are totally against the Uniform Civil Code. They told me the Quran carries ample provisions to safeguard the rights of the women in situations of divorce and maintenance and connected factors.
They do not want any changes or interference in their Personal Laws. Also, they do not trust this ‘sarkar’, as blows and dents are inflicted on the Muslim community on a daily basis and their very identity and survival is at stake. The young Muslims sounded very upset as the blatant targeting and communal assaults on them by the right-wing brigades are increasing and yet there is no protection or remedy from the government.