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Women group challenges Deoband's authority to issue fatwas

Sunday November 28, 2010 10:43:27 AM, Staff Reporter

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Malegaon: In a strongly worded letter to the Darul Uloom Deoband, a Muslim women's advocacy group has decried the frequent fatwas - religious decrees issued by the Deoband seminary, and has even went on to challenge its authority to do so.


"Who are you and what is your authority to pass such fatwas? In a secular democracy like India and in a religion that denounces clergy ship, from where do you get the authority to pass dictates which are unconstitutional and un-Islamic?", Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan asked in an open letter written to Darul Uloom, Deoband.


Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan's letter came in the wake of the frequent fatwas issued by the Deoband, the latest in the line being divorce pronounced by the husband on phone.


The Deoband in its fatwa has said such a divorce is valid even if the wife has not heard it due to network problems. It also says that ‘for talaak to take place it is not necessary that wife should hear it or witnesses are present.’ In October this year they also ruled that talaak pronounced in jest is also valid.


Continuing its tirade against the Deoband, the Muslim Mahila Andolan in its open letter demanded an answer from the muftis and qazis who, they say, "have nothing better to do than pass fatwas which ruin the lives of so many women."


"What is the source of illogical, stupid and laughter-evoking fatwas like women should not be riding bicycles, women should not talk loudly, they should not work in male company and without a veil, that women cannot be a judge and that she cannot be talking to her fiancé before marriage and many other much much more ridiculous rulings? Don’t you think twice before you defile a rational, progressive and liberal religion like Islam? Don’t you have an iota of a sense of responsibility?", they asked in the letter.


Stating that a Muslim man feels empowered and emboldened when irresponsible muftis and qazis send letters and notices on his behalf to his unsuspecting wife abruptly terminating her marriage, they observed, "Divorcing ones wife by letters, emails, SMSs is a recurring phenomenon which gives no opportunity to a harried wife to even know what went wrong where and how. Instead of dissuading men from resorting to this un-islamic method of divorce, the qazis are actually providing an easy conduit to men who think of marriage as some joke and his wife to be some piece of furniture to be discarded at his will."


"What do you feel when you read the verse no. 4:35 which insists on arbitration before divorce? Do you suffer from selective amnesia and forget all those verses which are just and fair to women?", they challenged the Deoband.


Demanding the Deoband's stand on codification of the Muslim family law, the Mahila Andolan asked, "When practically all Islamic/Muslim countries have codified the family law, why is the Darul Uloom not taking an initiative to call for codification of Muslim personal law in India?"


The Deoband's stand on divorce or talaq is debatable. The vast majority of Muslims in the world including the Arab world do not agree to the stand which is frequently propagated by the Deoband.






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