Triple talaq is actually a non-issue for Muslims

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Veiled grace: Earlier, burqa was considered to be not just a sign of femininity but also that of sensuality and grace

During the election campaigns in Uttar Pradesh, BJP’s top brass have repeatedly uttered that they would ‘ban’ triple talaq and with that supposedly reach out to the Muslim women. To all the ‘fake promises’ fitted in their screechy speeches, I would point out the two very basic ones: If the BJP-RSS would have been even one per cent genuine in their concern for the Muslim women, there’d be no rioting. To be nearer to 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.

If you read any of the in-depth studies and reports on riots, facts and figures show this hard hitting reality. In fact, the aftermath of the Gujarat pogrom has been so severe that till date members of the Muslim community of Gujarat are too petrified to speak out against the right-wing’s top brass who provoked if not directed the goon brigades to kill and hound.

The other aspect is 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 fashionable to bash Islam! And this scenario gets compounded as myths and misconceptions are played up: Muslims are violent. Muslims eat flesh like popcorn. Muslims produce like rabbits!

What have the political who’s who done to counter these extremely damaging notions. Nothing! On the other hand, 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 for me 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!

The reality is that Islam has actually provided enough guidelines and precautions and codes of conduct but it’s really tragic that most sit unaware of them. As Zeenat Shaukat Ali, teaching Islamic Studies at Mumbai’s St Xavier’s, 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 I took up her case? It was not as though I who opted to fight for her…I was simply 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.” Latify 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 non-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.”

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 non-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.”

Latify was against the Common 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 that the Muslims do not need it.”

Also, today there are cries about the burqa and the hijab! Though I’m comfortable with saris and blouses of all hues and shapes, but I must narrate this incident. One late night, whilst driving on the Delhi- Gurgaon highway, I faced a somewhat risky situation with truckers honking and trying to overtake …when I couldn’t take the strain any further – that is, drivers overtaking, their lewd comments hitting, I got this bright idea: that evening I’d bought a dining table cloth. I quickly pulled it out from the packet and threw it on myself. It covered my back and arms and my hair. I took refuge in that piece of cloth and it did cover me up so very completely. And you wouldn’t believe. That bandobast worked! The remaining part of the long drive on the highway was hassle-free! Modesty, I suppose does matter at least where the Indian scenario is concerned, or for that matter where the Indian male is concerned, for he’s is yet to grow … in his thinking. Of whatever size and dimension, whether he is from the North or South, rich or even those trying to get-going upwards, a woman is viewed as an object for sex…Here let me also say, our shervani and dhoti clad men were far more progressive than today’s lot.

Back to the burqa. Unfortunate that in recent times there’s that all -out war on the burqa. Earlier, the very burqa was considered to be not just a sign of femininity but also that of sensuality and grace. Remember, those Bollywood films of the 60s where actresses with burqas drew the attention of not just the hero but also of us, the viewers.

And when I had asked Khushwant Singh what drew him to his first lady love, Hyderabad-based Ghayoorunissa, he had listed the burqa as one of those attractions.

To quote him, “I must have been around 17 years and Ghayoorunissa was three years older than me. She was my sister’s friend … On one of those occasions when she and I and my sister had gone to see cinema, she’d slipped her hand on mine and held my hand and that alone meant a lot to me. I was drawn to her and that burqa she’d worn added to that entire atmosphere, to that romance, to her beauty.”

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