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Modi’s target

Updated May 20, 2017 08:28am

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EVER since the Jan Sangh was set up in 1951, one of its main aims was to wipe out Muslim law and enforce a uniform civil code. After its reincarnation in 1980 as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), this demand became one of its emblems.

Once he became prime minister, Narendra Modi made Muslim personal law embodied in the Sharia a target of his campaign. He picked on the one feature that many Muslims themselves were moving towards reforming because they saw it as contrary to religious injunctions— the triple talaq. His concern for Muslim women’s welfare was not very evident when, as Gujarat’s chief minister in 2002, they were raped and murdered on his watch. Now he and his henchmen are posing as their liberators.

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Last year, Modi said, “Getting Muslim women their rights as per the constitution is the responsibility of the government and society,” moaning, “what is the crime of my Muslim sisters when someone says talaq thrice over the phone and her life is destroyed?” Shortly after, BJP president Amit Shah said that a uniform civil code will be “an agenda in the UP Assembly elections”.

Read: Should India's Muslims keep away from electoral politics?


Modi is exploiting an issue that Muslims are already looking into.


As far back as December 1995, the leftist All India Democratic Women’s Association stated, “This convention condemns the propaganda of the BJP for an immediate uniform civil code which is directed against the Muslim community. It protests against its hypocritical claim that it is motivated by concern for women’s rights, in this case, Muslim women. It is this very political platform which in its earlier incarnation as the Hindu Mahasabha and the Jana Sangh had led the opposition to any reform in Hindu laws, leading to an opportunist compromise at the cost of women’s equality.”

The BJP is out to exploit a problem already on the verge of a solution. Speaking in the Central Legislative Assembly in 1925, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah said, “I have no hesitation in saying that the Privy Council have on several occasions absolutely murdered Hindu law and slaughtered [Muslim] law.” He himself had won his spurs in public life by securing the passage of the Mussalman Waqf Validation Act, 1913, which nullified a Privy Council ruling in 1894 on waqf-alul-awlads that would have ruined many Muslim families.

In 1897, the Privy Council made it clear that it preferred commentaries of doubtful accuracy to the Quranic text. It chose to rely on the dicta in the Hedaya, translated by Hamilton, and N.E. Baillie’s Digest of Muhammadan Law. Two of the greatest Muslim judges, Justices Ameer Ali and Syed Mahmud (son of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan) had exposed the errors in the translations.

After independence, Pakistan’s Supreme Court discarded this legacy. It ruled that it was the duty of the courts to ascertain the law from the Quran and the hadith for themselves in preference to the opinions of British-era commentators.

But the Muslims of India did not shed the sham doctrines of the Privy Council. Some high courts’ judges departed from the beaten path and believed that the existing Muslim law on divorce had no sanction in the Quran. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer of the Kerala High Court, who rose to become an Indian Supreme Court justice, said as far back as in 1970 that “a deeper study of the subject discloses a surprisingly rational, realistic and modern law of divorce”.

The Quran enjoins a clear procedure. The first step is appointment of arbiters “if you fear a breach” between the couple (4:35). Failing their efforts, either side can demand divorce; khula by the wife and talaq by the husband, for which a period of three months (iddah) is obligatory. It is revocable before that.

In 1943, Maulana Abul Ala Maududi said, “Due to want of knowledge, Muslims have been generally given to understand that a talaq can be pronounced only through the triple-divorce formula, although it is an innovation and a sin leading to many legal complications. If people knew that triple divorce is superfluous and even a single talaq would dissolve the marriage, of course, leaving room for revocation during the next three months (iddah) and remarriage thereafter, innumerable families could have been saved from disruption.”

Section 7 of the Pakistan’s Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 establishes an arbitration council, and mandates conciliation and a 90-day interim before a divorce is affected. Sadly, the organisations that profess to represent India’s Muslims on this issue studiously ignore this law — and thus play into the hands of the BJP, defying Muslim women’s bodies that are committed to the Sharia but that want the triple talaq to go.

The writer is an author and a lawyer based in Mumbai.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2017

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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.



Comments (90)

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Happy1 May 20, 2017 04:01am

How is Modi to blame? A bunch of Muslim women have filed suit in the Supreme Court against the triple talaq practice. As soon as Supreme Court accepted the case the Muslim leadership declared they were introspecting the triple talaq issue. When Hindu women won the right to enter a South Indian temple, was that also Modis doing.

Khem May 20, 2017 05:56am

Yeah it is evident during hearing in the court AIMPLB still supporting Triple Talaq and doesn't want to abolish it.

SHAUKAT A. SURTI May 20, 2017 05:57am

At a time when the question of a common civil code is being discussed afresh, the RSS’ Muslim outreach group, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, has a suggestion for Muslim clerics: “Either accept the Sharia in both criminal and family laws, or have a common civil code just like you have accepted the common criminal laws in India”.

“The ulema cannot have double standards. You accept the Indian Penal Code and never demand that a Muslim committing theft have his hands chopped or an adulterer be stoned to death as per the Sharia. How can you insist that the community’s distinction be maintained only in family laws?” RSS Muslim Manch convenor Mohammad Afzal has conveyed to Supreme Court on the above lines.

Krishna May 20, 2017 06:11am

Sir, you are a legal expert. You know better.....Issue is the process is not being complied with. The husband says 'Talaq' thrice - these days even on WhatsApp and Skype, and the marriage is considered over.

Women are being wronged.

Alba May 20, 2017 06:13am

Mustafa Kemel Ataturk abolished triple talaq in 1928. Turkey and Turkish law can never go back to it. That was almost 90 years ago.

MGP May 20, 2017 06:14am

I fully endorse the views though I am a Hindu.

Uniform Civil Code will first require a consensus on reconciling the personal laws of Sunnis, Shias and the Ahl-e-Hadis. They have different procedures for divorce that need reconciliation. For example, while triple talaq is considered fine by Sunnis, Shias accept talaq when two Maulvis represent the two sides, just as at the time of nikaah . Once Muslim personal laws converge, the next step will be a common civil code for all Indians.

Thanks to Sonia Gandhi that Congress's distinguished Lawyer Mr Kapil Sibal is fighting against abolition of Triple Talaq on behalf of Muslim Clerics. He has very rightly said that : It is a practice essential to Islamic Faith and in vogue for the past 1400 years. The way Ayodhya, a place of birth of Lord Rama is a matter of belief and faith so is the Triple Talaq and Polygamy to the followers of Islam. So we should respect their faith & belief in their Religion especially as they are in minority.

Another view May 20, 2017 07:11am

Politicians sir :).. you know how they are. Hopefully there's no hidden agenda, other than political gains (which I don't care).

NORISK May 20, 2017 07:45am

Sir, as a lawyer, you must have known that equality is the biggest principle in law. Can a Muslim woman say triple talaq and get instant divorce from her husband ? No, because Triple Talaq is patriarchal. Nobody cared for Indian Muslim women, who were pushed to streets by triple talaq. Their lives and their kids future was ruined due to rampant use of instant divorce. Now, if the present government is trying to correct it by banning a practise, you accuse Modi ? Supreme Court of India acquitted Modi after intense trial, but it seems a lawyer can't get over that. Sad.

Amit May 20, 2017 07:49am

What is wrong in having uniform civil code? It will be applicable to every person in nation irrespective of religion..

Kris May 20, 2017 07:49am

Noorani Sir, you are correct in saying BJP and RSS has an agenda to bring unioform civil rights in the country to make it truely secular. That is also what people want including many Muslim intellectuals especially women who are the one at the receiving end. I read the article to see your support in this cause but disappointed not you seeing any good in it. Instead I only could see your pathological hatred towards BJP and Modi quoting Godra carnage and the riot followed after that. You being a prominent lawyer, it is disheartening to hold Modi hostage tp the riot, even thoug SIT, SC and all committees acquitting Modi. Modi and BJP govt can only propose, but we have revered SC to pass the law, in this case there is only one Hindu Judge a minority in the panel. Then what is your point Sir?

wellwisher May 20, 2017 08:26am

pl explain why muslim women en masse voted for BJP

Shailendra Sapra May 20, 2017 08:49am

What exactly is wrong with having a uniform civil code? Every secular country has it.

Kunal majumdar May 20, 2017 08:52am

You may question Modi's antecedents a hundred times, but what he's doing is the right thing. In the past, because of vote bank politics, none of the parties had the guts to find a solution.

Hassan Khan May 20, 2017 09:06am

Did any historic narrative or discussion had assisted the plight of our misfortunate mothers, sisters and daughters?

Dev May 20, 2017 09:15am

How exactly the problem of triple talaq and halala was going to get solved by its own in india??We own it to modi for liberating muslim women from clutches of those living in 7 th century mindset bullying indian state because of their vote bank against implementation if uniform civil laws for all citizens of india.

Vimal May 20, 2017 09:16am

Modi is becoming the leader of the Muslims in India; the saner afflicted half .

AK May 20, 2017 09:16am

For a secular country, why should there be any law based on religion ?

Mrs CHARU May 20, 2017 09:21am

@Hassan Khan

Many intellectuals don't want it. But today the matter is looked at from the point of view of Gender Equality. Those who don't want to abolish the practice will have to argue accordingly and convince the Supreme Court.

KT May 20, 2017 09:27am

Triple Talaq must be removed as it is unjust for woman and the child. Also procedure for divorce law should be defined well for woman and children. No ware in world be such inhuman law be allowed.

Apoorva May 20, 2017 09:38am

In1995 they said no immediate uniform civil code and it's 2017 now .Unless it's done immediately bit won't happen ever again

VINEETH May 20, 2017 10:03am

@Indian The author is an Indian lawyer based in Mumbai.

KRIS May 20, 2017 10:21am

"He picked on the one feature that many Muslims themselves were moving towards reforming because they saw it as contrary to religious injunctions— the triple talaq."

That line gave me a chuckle. AIMPLB is on record supporting this practice in court last week.

Every religion needs to change with times. I am glad the British abolished the regressive Hindu practice of Sati in the 1800's. I am sure there would have been cynics who questioned the intentions of the British. But it was an appropriate move nonetheless.

Matoda May 20, 2017 10:26am

Yes and Personal law board is letting him exploit. You guys were given many opportunities but no, you are so proud like Sultans. Now the bin has been spilled!

Subha May 20, 2017 10:29am

"EVER since the Jan Sangh was set up in 1951, one of its main aims was to wipe out Muslim law and enforce a uniform civil code"- what's wrong in it? Our constitution says the same!

GK ( Netherlands) May 20, 2017 10:33am

Modi will not decide on this issue ...... Supreme Court has to give verdict on the issue referred by Muslim Women. Equal rights to women and nothing more has been prayed by these women. Can anyone deny it in the year 2017 ...?

Harry Nagar May 20, 2017 10:36am

collective efforts inclusive growth.This is our Modi's Slogan.

P. S. Natarajan May 20, 2017 10:40am

Everybody knows that triple talaq is wrong. Voice against this practice is raised by Muslim women, not the BJP. The problem is psychological. Since the BJP is supporting the move against triple talaq, therefore the Indian ulema must oppose it tooth and nail.

Gurmeet May 20, 2017 10:43am

Triple talaq practice i banned even in Pakistan so what are you talking about sir ?

Gurmeet May 20, 2017 10:45am

Nothin wrong in giving muslim sisters dignity in the marriage.

pranjali May 20, 2017 10:46am

All indian women want justice in terms of parity with males . triple talaq is no different to this indian constitutional rights granted , and any one opposing have neighboring pastures to howl !

vasudevan May 20, 2017 10:58am

It was some Muslim women who moved the court against triple talaq. Not Modi. Again it was the Godhra train burning that started the Gujarat riots. Plainly speaking does the Indian Muslim community support triple talaq and its remedy of marrying another man? Left to them the men of the community, Muslim or Hindu, will never give any freedom to their women on their own. Triple talaq, Shah Banoo case where a rich man refused to give a pittance to his old triple-talaqed wife- do they show up a progressive community?

Drs Sears Appalsamy May 20, 2017 11:02am

Muslim personal law according to the Indian Constitution of 1947 should have been abolished long time ago. All people of different faiths would have one persoanl law like in Europe. No Muslim in Europe demands Muslim Perosnal Law? Why? Vote Bank politics prevented this all these years. One personal law for all Indians should be implemented immediately.

PAKISTANI May 20, 2017 11:18am

Who is Modi or BJP to discuss over Triple Talaq ??

TbH May 20, 2017 11:23am

@PAKISTANI "Who is Modi or BJP to discuss over Triple Talaq ??"

Modi is elected PM. We want him to abolish triple Talaq. Only Modi can do. It is a evil practice

Fawzia H May 20, 2017 11:23am

The triple talaq should go or women should have the right to use it too.

Najma Hisham May 20, 2017 11:38am

What gives the right to a Muslim man to get a divorce by just repeating 3 words. Ridiculous.

well meaning May 20, 2017 11:39am

@PAKISTANI why is it not allowed in pakistan ? have you forgotten ?

SAchin May 20, 2017 11:48am

Media is the single biggest cause for communal disharmony all over the world this article proves it.

Raj KUMAR May 20, 2017 12:07pm

@MGP you may also quote the argument given against what Mr Kapil Sibbal said,than everyone will know the full story.For your information,this triple talaq issue comes under fundamental right(under courts jurisdiction) and uniform civil code comes under directive principle of state policy which needs to be passed with 50 % majority in LS and approximately 70 % majority in RS.So it cannot be passed until there is broad based consensus on the subject.

Ask May 20, 2017 12:14pm

If you want to keep triple talaq then give this right to women also. Everyone is born equal and remain equal in this world.

sach May 20, 2017 12:15pm

Uniform Civil Code is not Hindu Civil Code or Sikh Civil Code or Christian Civil Code.

If we all accept that India should be secular then we should also accept that a common code is applicable to all.

And what is this Triple Talaq. Even Muslims of other nations do not have it. The way this TT is being abused is horrifying.

Not everything should be politicized. Why should women always live under fear?

Sunil Varma May 20, 2017 12:17pm

Muslim women are also the daughters of India . The constitution of the country gives equal rights to all the women of India who constitute almost 50% of the population. The Muslim women cannot be allowed to continue to be victims of gender bias on account of Triple Talaq , which men utter on Whtasapp and walk out of a marriage.

Ali May 20, 2017 12:24pm

@wellwisher Any proof????????

Alba May 20, 2017 12:30pm

@NORISK .... The most important principle at law may be prudent behavior.

PAKISTANI May 20, 2017 12:40pm

@TbH so willl, Modi allow Muslim's to change Hinduism practices being observed here in Pakistan or any other Country??

Hyderabadi May 20, 2017 01:05pm

@PAKISTANI , Mr. Modi is the PM of India and has responsibility to look after all Indians

MG May 20, 2017 01:41pm

@PAKISTANI He is PM for 125 crore people including 20 crore Muslims

Akhil May 20, 2017 01:42pm

If Muslims are already looking into, then why no decision has been taken. How long will it take to come to a decision. Blaming PM Modi is very easy, but doing things is difficult.

Akhil May 20, 2017 01:44pm

@PAKISTANI Pakistani Hindus are Pakistanis. India has nothing to do with that. Obviously if any atrocities happen against anyone, people across world cries and protests, irrespective of religion. In the same way Muslims in India are Indians.

Akhil May 20, 2017 01:46pm

Banning triple talaq does not help any Hindu, it will benefit Muslim woman only, if any benefit happens.

Indian May 20, 2017 01:58pm

@PAKISTANI he is the PM of india. It is our internal matter, actually who are you to discuss this issue?

thampi May 20, 2017 02:12pm

Article 44 of the Indian Constitution adopted in 1949 when Modi was not even born mandates legislation to enforce a Uniform Civil Code.

John May 20, 2017 02:14pm

Muslims will only keep looking into solutions for triple talaq but modi will find and implement them

ASHOK SUNHAL May 20, 2017 02:15pm

@PAKISTANI It is not Modi but the Supreme Court which is looking into the issue.

naya raipur May 20, 2017 02:24pm

But triple talat is going to finish in july

TbH May 20, 2017 02:30pm

Very sad state of affairs that even intellectual Muslims rather than looking at menace of the practice are making it political. They are just opposing just because it's Modi who is implementing them. No one had courage to talk about his for vote bank politics.

rich May 20, 2017 02:35pm

when will muslim look into it and take action?

even saudi, pakistan, bangladesh, ect have banned it, along with over 50 mulim countries

why not ban it in india?

Irfan Uk May 20, 2017 02:41pm

@Amit What is wrong with having a uniform civil code which everyone has to follow is the fact that somethings are just different for Hindus and Muslims like for example if the Muslims demand that cows should be slaughtered to feed the poor of the country then surely that cannot be accepted by the Hindus even though everyone knows that that would be good for the country and the people

TbH May 20, 2017 02:43pm

@ASHOK SUNHAL yes supreme court looking into it but Modi will enact this as law very soom to eradicate this menace

Black Indian May 20, 2017 02:47pm

Enforcing a uniform civil code in due course is a part of Indian Constitution. What is wrong in it.

You can isolate people based on religion in a region.

All are supposed to get equal treatment by the state craft. Even Mr. Jinnah, founding father of Pakistan also had similar views.

R.Kannan May 20, 2017 03:23pm

An article that condemns Modi but what are the facts. A Muslim woman thrown out of her house by the triple talaq system approached the courts. The Supreme Court decided to bunch together all similar cases and constituted a bench to hear the cases. The Indian government merely agreed with some points raised by the petitioner when asked for an opinion by the court. It is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board which is opposing this petition tooth and nail.

Houlbelat May 20, 2017 03:24pm

The whole world is fighting terror without waiting to think who machinated terror as their tool. Indians know it better than others of the fact, having over 1,200 years of experience. Therefore, their 'honorable' Prime Minister had been launched to help the agenda of those who had started it in 2001 in the name of terror and fuelling it with his deep rooted hate.

Mvjrao May 20, 2017 03:43pm

@PAKISTANI what is illegal in Pakistan is sought to be legal in India. What a justice ,Pakistani ?

Abid May 20, 2017 03:44pm

@Amit let me tell you, what is wrong here! If you are giving backwards Hindu population special treatment e.g. Jobs, educations reservation, same rights not granted to poor and backward Muslim, where is your equality then?

Abid May 20, 2017 03:49pm

@Houlbelat 1200 years experience! What is the meaning of fighting terror around 1200 years, Mahabharata war was million years according to Hindu scripture.

abusing May 20, 2017 04:11pm

Triple Talaq is true way but people are abusing it, should be implemented correctly otherwise 3 talaq won't occur !

Sunil Varma May 20, 2017 04:19pm

@Abid.... Mahabharat is only 5000 years old as per our Holy Scripture Gita It dates back to the time when the Aryans arrived from Asia Minor and central Europe and settled down in northern parts of the Sub Continent.

VINEETH May 20, 2017 04:24pm

@PAKISTANI He is the Indian PM and BJP is the ruling party. Their moral authority transcends any religious laws in their country.

A May 20, 2017 04:45pm

@Sunil Varma

Let us accept the fact that very few people read their Holy Scriptures....!

Mrs CHARU May 20, 2017 04:54pm

@Abid

Only one thing I can say is that you are totally wrong on this Sir ! Overwhelming support has been provided by the Government to the Community financial, job reservation,vocational training etc etc But inclination to take 'modern education' is grossly lacking ...

Abdulla Hussain May 20, 2017 05:02pm

Indian Muslims should take care of this and many other controversial plans against Muslims of India in the pipeline. One of Modi's lieutenant has also proposed burning of Muslims like Hindus in India, clips available in social media. Some of the tall talking Indian Muslim leaders who thinks the non Muslim majority in India will support Muslims case and that no foreign interference will be welcomed should come out of their caves.

Raj KUMAR May 20, 2017 05:07pm

@PAKISTANI the matter is in supreme court of India take by muslim women and organisation.

doshi h k May 20, 2017 05:16pm

Why we mixed up politics with such social reform which empower Muslim woman. If woman will be liberated it liberate whole society. Muslim society should think openly with all reforms if they want to walk with time and development.

Raj KUMAR May 20, 2017 05:16pm

@Irfan Uk you may tell me in the west which law are they following,if i know correctly there is 1 law for everyone.

NP May 20, 2017 07:00pm

@PAKISTANI, Prime Minister of India and choosen by the majority of Indians!

The end is near May 20, 2017 08:21pm

Modi is doing well to isolate india from rest of the world.

E.Somapalan May 20, 2017 08:43pm

@Alba Visionaries like Ataturk are longer on the scene in any country or faith. This is the time of puny little men masquerading as leaders.

Jaanbaaz (india) May 20, 2017 09:07pm

Proud of Mr. Modi.

Krishna May 20, 2017 09:19pm

@PAKISTANI Modi is India PM who was given powers to make laws by Indians

Metaphor May 20, 2017 09:57pm

@Kris I say Pakistanis have no what's for the law and the judgement given by their own SC and why would they accept indian sc verdict..such uncivilised people..

RoHail May 20, 2017 10:27pm

Is that the biggest issue in India or poverty, unemployment, crime, literacy etc? I don't understand why these politician play with sensitive religious issues in order to gain popularity within its constituencies? Try resolving other major issues that really required to be resolved. People elected you to address their issues which affect their daily basis lives.

pathanoo May 20, 2017 10:31pm

"Muslims are looking in to it" for ever and no one has ever decided any thing except just put out absolutely meaningless statements and then go quiet knowing the storm will blow over. Elimination of Triple Talaq is the morally right thing to do irrespective of who implements it.

pathanoo May 20, 2017 10:32pm

The articel is meandering, self-serving and contradictroy all at the same time. You can NOT defend a practice that allows men to enslave and abuse women.

rr May 20, 2017 11:30pm

The author says that the problem is on the verge of a solution and then points out the steps 45 to 120 years back. So, has it been on the verge of a solution all these years.

Justice May 21, 2017 12:13am

And Muslim women are supporting.

Mohseen May 21, 2017 02:32am

@SAchin you are absolutely spot on. This gentleman is playing to the gallery as always and pretending to be concerned about a subject which has already been decided in favour of "Modi" in Pakistan too. So who is he trying to impress??

Ash patel May 21, 2017 04:05am

Women in India, Pakistan and most countries in Asia and the Middle East are treated unequal to men and have suffered physical and mental abuse. No religion preaches to abuse women, and if men in this countries, irrespective of religion, wan to continue to abuse women, they are not following the teaching of their religion, but they certainly brings a religion when it's to their advantage.

I know even Muslim countries have moved away from triple talaq, and a country can not have separate or different laws for the people of different religion. The democracies are ruled by constitution.

MG May 21, 2017 06:46am

Can we have a Hindu law board and can have their own set of laws?

R S Chakravarti May 22, 2017 04:55pm

@Abdulla Hussain Clips available in social media only prove that someone said something. In this case that thing is rubbish, not to be taken seriously.

R S Chakravarti May 22, 2017 05:01pm

@Indian Discussing an issue in a newspaper is not an interference in our internal affairs.