By Adeeba Hussain
The resilience and fortitude are the most appropriate words for today’s Muslim women. Muslim women have been victim both within the community as well as outside it. Personal law have always been used by the conservative and patriarchal religious leaders to oppress the women. Practices like purdah, polygamy, instant triple talaq etc. are the known vices of Muslim community in India.
Successive governments did nothing to interfere in the laws and uplift the status of Muslim women, fearing a backlash from the conservative leaders. In this context we have the example of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi whose government maintained a stand in the favour of instant triple talaq in the case of Shayara Bano v. Mohd. Ahmad Khan. Solely for their own selfish purpose they continued with such outdated practices. Though the legislation Protection of rights on divorce act 1986 provided a kind of legal remedy to the women. Successive governments both at national and state level were reluctant to interfere in the personal law of the community. The institutions established for the upliftment and welfare of the community like All India Muslim Personal law Board , Sunni Wakf board and Shia wakf board did nothing to bring reforms in the community. They are decaying institutions that need to be dismantled as for decades they did nothing to address the plight of the community. Recent example we know of instant triple talaq a menace for the Muslim community which could have been addressed by the personal law board on its own without requiring intervention from the side of the government but it deliberately failed to do so. Another gruesome example of patriarchy was the opposition to implementation of prohibition of child marriage act 2006 which was opposed by several Muslim organizations. However various courts have given the ruling that it is applicable to all citizens regardless of religion. new institutions should established with various luminaries across different fields who can legitimately and sincerely represent the aspirations of the community. According to the Sachar committee report the situation of Muslims in India is worse than the Dalit’s. This is the result of ignorance and apathy of both the government and the community’s institutions.
Though one can raise the fact that aspirations of women are same across the religious divisions. But the Muslim women in particular are victims of communal propaganda as well as religious extremism. But now we can see a kind of enlightenment within the Muslim community which embarks a journey into a new era. It was really unexpected and surprising for most people to see Muslim women coming out of their homes holding the constitution in their, doing 24×7 sit in protest and talking about principles inculcated in the preamble. The Muslim women stereotyped as a women clad in a burqa or hijab, being reluctant and shy to speak their minds and confined within the walls of the house. It’s true that majority of woman were confined to the roles of housewife but they have broke this stereotype and myth that woman as such know nothing about outside world or about their rights. They have shown that in the times of extreme necessity they can come and fight for their rights which is the duty of each and every citizen. As a result of this new phenomenal change we can see Shaheen Bagh being there in most of the big cities in India. This anti CAA and NRC protest has a huge positive impact upon the mind set of the community. They have realised that they have to break their shackles of ignorance and free themselves from the burden of the past. Particularly Muslim men have realised that they need to give up their conservative archaic practices and give the women the respect and rights they deserve. The creation of Shaheen bagh like protest is giving new opportunities and broad horizons to the women to grow and develop their personality. The chance which they have been waiting for centuries has know knocked on their doorsteps. This movement has given impetus and momentum to institutional and cultural changes with the community. These changes were much needed and surely transform the Muslim community as they will realise the importance of education. What the community learns from this that they can be a pious Muslim as well as a secular citizen for constitutional rights at the same time. This is indeed a huge opportunity to imbibe a healthy combination of both religion and of secular and modern principles.
Indian Muslims should follow the examples of liberal and secular Muslim countries like country on how secularism can maintained in harmony with religion. They should get inspired from examples of these countries and follow their personal law systems which they have emulated.