WASHINGTON DC, July 1, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 | www.satribune.com

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Muslims protest in Muzaffarnagar in Imrana case. Below Muslim women

Religious Right Raking Up Rancorous Rape Issue

By Arun Rajnath

NEW DELHI, July 1: The Sangh Parivar is shamelessly exploiting the plight of a Muslim woman, Imrana, who was recently raped by her father-in-law. The Parivar has got an opportunity to demand promulgation of the Uniform Civil Code in the country that is considered as anti-Shariat. They say that from Mukhtaran Mai to Imrana, Muslim women are being targeted by their own religious co-followers.

The Sangh Parivar is saying that the Uniform Civil Code should be promulgated in the country for all religions to avoid the complexities of Shariat Laws such as in the case of Imrana, a mother of five children.

The Muslim clergy of the country has also put forth weak religious arguments in the Imrana case that has given an opportunity to the Sangh Parivar to push its anti-Muslim agenda. This strategy could also help the BJP which is facing discontent inside and outside and to control some damage done by LK Advani’s remarks about Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

The case of Imrana was an ordinary case of rape that could be seen within the purview of the Indian Penal Code, but the saffronized Indian media turned it into an issue because the victim is a Muslim woman. The media got the chance to question the authority of Muslim clerics and Ulema when the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) gave its verdict against Imrana that since she has become haraam for her husband, she couldn’t live with him.

The AIMPLB on June 26, 2005 corroborated the edict of the Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband that the woman who was allegedly raped by her father-in-law, Ali Mohammed in Muzaffarnagar, a crime prone town of the western Uttar Pradesh, could not live with her husband.

When this correspondent contacted the lone woman member of the AIMPLB, Begum Naseem Iqtedar in Lucknow, she said on telephone: “As far as the Holy Quran is concerned, Imrana’s marriage to her husband Noor Ilahi stands dissolved because she has been raped by her husband’s blood relative.”

“If she had been raped by some one else than a blood relation, she could have rightfully stayed with her husband as in the Bilqis Bano case of Gujarat where Hindu zealots raped her during the genocide,” she added.

Iqtedar said: “The responsibility of the couple’s five children would have to be shouldered by Noor Ilahi as long as required. Imrana has also the right to marry anyone other than her father-in-law’s family members.”

When asked why a victim is being punished rather than the criminal, Iqtedar said: “As believers of Islam, we have to follow what has been prescribed by the religion. However, the criminal would get the harshest punishment according to the law of the land.”

The ruling of the AIMPLB has bestowed an opportunity on the Hindu zealots to rake up the issue of the Uniform Civil Code and to denounce the law prescribed in the Shariat. On the one hand Islamic experts like Tahir Mahmood, member of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, are appealing to the AIMPLB not to enforce Fatwa on an innocent and unwilling couple desirous of continuing in marriage, the Hindu zealots have begun to raise diatribes against Islam on the other.

Talking to the South Asia Tribune, the Executive President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Ashok Singhal said: “Islam is a very complex religion, and it has no clear vision on the issues of divorce, marriage, rape and other crimes. There are different schools of thoughts, different Maulvis, different followers, different principles in Shariat that make the position of Muslim women very weak.”

“Only the Uniform Civil Code can protect the rights of Muslim women. In such cases like the Imrana case, a victim has to produce four witnesses in front of whom the crime was committed. You tell me if four witnesses watched the woman being raped then why they did not try to save her? It is so ridiculous,” he added.

“If Muslim clerics want to enforce Fatwa in the Imrana case, who the hell am I to interfere. But then they must also demand that the father-in-law must also be punished by the same Islamic rule. That criminal must be half buried and Muslims must stone him to death. These clerics will not follow this rule because it is not convenient for them. In the matter of marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc they follow Shariat, but in criminal matters they follow the Indian Penal Code,” he said.

Ashok Singhal said: “This discrepancy has to be removed, and now the time has come to quash the Muslim Personal Law. Muslims should also be governed by the law of land. The Uniform Civil Code is the only way-out to protect women from these clerics who have made them their stooges.”

Ashok Singhal did not seem satisfied as he continued his diatribes against Islamic laws. He said, “You see, on any matter Muslims first look at their holy book Quran for an explanation or ruling. If they do not get anything there, then they look at Hadith, sayings and deeds of their Prophet. And if they do not get anything here then they are free to invoke their discretion in the particular case. Here lies the chance of committing mistakes.”

“In modern times in which we are living, there is no scope for such pristine and diabolic laws. People have become rational and they should be governed by any uniform civil and criminal codes. Muslims should realize it and the Government of India should try to stop such religious practices,” he said.

Singhal said: “Personal laws of all religious denominations should be in consonance with constitutional guarantees of equality and dignity for women, and the Imrana case could be the eye-opener for those Muslims and so-called secular forces that have always resisted reforms and promulgation of uniform civil laws.”

“What has happened in Pakistan in the case of Mukhtaran Mai. And see the case of Imrana. In both the cases Muslim women are on the receiving end. In the case of Mai, she has been made victim of tribal laws and in the case of Imrana, she has been made victim of personal laws,” he added.

But Muslims are not perturbed by the diatribes of the Sangh Parivar. They have come out with vigor and fervor against the Sangh Parivar along with the secular forces. They follow the Muslim Personal Law as it has been guaranteed by the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.

In this regard, Kamal Farooqi, member AIMPLB told the South Asia Tribune: “The issue of the Uniform Civil Code was forgotten after the defeat of the communal forces at the hustings, but now they are raking it due to the Imrana episode. They should know that the Muslim Personal Law has been bestowed upon the Muslims as their fundamental constitutional right and without making amendments passed in the Parliament, nobody can change it”.

“Secondly, the Sangh Parivar including BJP have come out and expressing concern for the protection and safety of the Muslim women. But where were these people when Muslim women were being molested and raped by their (Sangh) men during the Gujarat genocide? Have they done anything to bring the culprits to book so far?”

Farooqi said: “Lastly, it is our right to decide our religious matters. The Sangh Parivar has no right to poke its nose in every Muslim affair. It is very clear in the Muslim law that when a woman is ‘used’ by the blood relative of her husband, she becomes haraam for her husband. Hence the marriage stands dissolved. There are other sects in our religion which may offer different views and a way-out in this matter. But one thing is clear that Sangh Parivar is trying to malign the Muslim community and trying to present us as boorish before other religious denominations.”

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