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INDIA: Muslim Law Board’s stand sought on controversial short term marriages

INDIA: Muslim Law Board’s stand sought on nikah halala

The controversial short-term marriage forms are not practiced commonly in India, says the AIMPLB; with regard to minimum age, it adds that Islam allows marriage when boys and girls come of age.

By ZIYA US SALAM

 

The Hindu (25.08.2023) – The Law Commission has asked the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to unambiguously state its position on nikah halala and muta, two controversial forms of marriage. The Commission has also sought clarification on Islamic law regarding the minimum age for marriage.

These queries were posed by Law Commission chairman Justice (retired) Ritu Raj Awasthi in a two-hour long meeting on Thursday with an 11-member delegation of the AIMPLB, led by its president Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rehmani.

These questions assume significance as petitions against nikah halala and muta have been filed in the Supreme Court by several Muslim women, who have sought a prohibition on both forms of marriage.

Short-term marriages

Muta is a consensual short-term marriage with a specific time frame for matrimony and divorce. Nikah halala is often forced upon a woman who has been thrice divorced by her husband, after which the spouses seek a reunion. It is intimately linked with instant triple talaq, which was invalidated by the top court in 2017.

The Board members voiced their opposition to nikah halala the way it is often practiced in the country, calling it “a mockery of religion”, according to a member of the delegation who did not wish to be named. A woman who has received three instant divorces is at times asked by some clerics to undergo halala, which is a short-term marriage to another man followed by divorce, before being eligible to resume marital life with her erstwhile husband.

The AIMPLB delegation also felt that the Commission was making “an issue out of a non-issue” with regard to muta. “It is not practised in our country. An attempt is being made to turn a rare instance into a popular practice,” the delegation member said, adding, “At a time when the Supreme Court has allowed extra marital relations, talking of muta is incongruous.“

Minimum marriage age

On the minimum age for marriage being raised to 21 years by the government, the Board reiterated that the Muslim community had been following the law on the subject. “Islam allows marriage when boys and girls come of age, to avoid premarital relations,” the delegation told the Commission, according to the member, who added, “However, in modern times, early marriage is usually linked to socio-economic parameters. A poor family wants to marry off the daughter quickly so there is one less mouth to feed. It cuts across religions. in Islam, there is no specific age for marriage. If the spouses are in a position to fulfil the obligations of marriage, they can marry.”

The AIMPLB delegation, which included women members as well, reiterated that, “if anybody has a problem with the personal law, then he or she can solemnise marriage under Special Marriage Act, which is a secular law. For such marriages, Indian Succession Act will be applicable.”

‘Muslims are target of UCC’

The delegation reiterated the AIMPLB’s strong opposition to the proposed Uniform Civil Code, insisting that no debate can be conducted on Shariah. “The Shariah law (Muslim Personal Law) has two components, one is based on the Quran and Sunnah (Prophet’s words and actions) and the other is Ijtehad (Islamic scholars’ opinions). The first part is unalterable, even Muslim ulemma cannot make any change in it. Ijtehad can differ with time and situations. Therefore, for us, even a minute change in the basic format of Shariah will not be acceptable. It is non-negotiable,” said Board spokesman S.Q.R. Ilyas.

The Muslim leaders also asked the Commission if it had undertaken any survey or had any data on the basis of which the UCC was being proposed. “We asked the Commission why only Muslims were not being exempted from the proposed Uniform Civil Code when the government is ready to exclude tribals and Christians of northeastern States. It means that only Muslims are the target of UCC,” Mr. Ilyas concluded.

File image of a child bride from Hyderabad used for representational purpose only. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

 Further reading about FORB in India on HRWF website





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INDIA: Misinformation on India’s Muslim population fuels Islamophobia

Misinformation on India’s Muslim population fuels Islamophobia

Daily Sabah (02.05.2023) – Indian social media is rife with false demographic data claiming that the country is being turned into a Muslim-majority state, misinformation that influencers have used to cultivate large audiences to spread Islamophobia in the country.

 

Amit Upadhyay repeats the claim to why India’s population is growing: He says his Muslim neighbors are having too many babies, so Hindu women have a responsibility to bear more of their own.

A pharmacist by trade, Upadhyay is one of many social media influencers from India’s majority faith to have cultivated large audiences by spreading false demographic data to claim the country is being refashioned into a Muslim-majority state.

For them, last month’s announcement that India had overtaken China to become the world’s most populous nation was not a cause for celebration, but a call to action.

 

“I tell all my Hindu customers to produce more children, to counter Muslims,” Upadhyay, who in his spare time curates a popular Facebook page from his home in Uttar Pradesh state, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“Or else they will become a threat and eventually wipe out the Hindu religion from India.”

Upadhyay regularly publishes widely shared Islamophobic posts to his nearly 40,000 followers.

One post in April warned of an alleged plot by Muslims to “multiply their population to take control of India.”

India is home to 1.4 billion people, including around 210 million Muslims, but birthrates have declined across the board over recent decades in tandem with global trends.

The country’s last National Family Health Survey in 2021 showed an overall fertility rate of 2.0 children per woman, rising marginally to 2.3 for Muslim women.

A forecast issued the same year from the Pew Research Center said that India’s Muslim community would grow to 311 million by 2050.

But despite their growing share of the national population, Muslims would remain a small minority in a country of 1.7 billion people by mid-century, according to the U.S.-based think tank’s projections.

That has not stopped the spread of viral disinformation on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms claiming India is soon to become a Muslim-majority country.

One Facebook post sarcastically greeted the news that India’s population had overtaken China’s by thanking Muslims “for producing 5-10 children” each.

Another post on Twitter claimed that the Hindu faith would soon disappear from India, while a supposed Muslim majority would replace the country’s constitution with religious law.

Population control

 

Conspiracy theories that allege a Muslim plot to secure the faith’s numerical supremacy in India have been a staple of Hindu nationalist ideologues for years.

Similar theories of immigrants and minorities “replacing” majority populations have also been embraced by the far-right in other countries.

At times the theories have been indulged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has come to dominate national politics partly through its muscular appeals to the country’s Hindu majority.

BJP lawmaker Rakesh Sinha introduced into parliament a population control bill in 2019 that proposed to limit all Indian households to two children, garnering the support of 125 other MPs.

The bill was withdrawn after critics accused Sinha of targeting Muslims when he gave a speech on the supposedly glaring disparity between Hindu and Muslim birthrates – an accusation he denied.

The U.N.’s April announcement that India is now home to more humans than any other country on the planet has reinvigorated these claims.

“Hindus will get married once, and have two children,” Ishwar Lal, a member of a Hindu nationalist group affiliated with the BJP, said in a public speech after the announcement.

 

“Whereas Muslims get married four times and have so many children that they can have their own cricket teams.”

The same month, at a popular pilgrimage destination in the Himalayan foothills, a religious sermon exhorted a crowd of the Hindu faithful to wage their own demographic counteroffensive.

“From two children, Hindus have come down to producing one child,” priest Ravindra Puri told a crowd of hundreds at Haridwar. “This is causing an imbalance in the population.”

The solution to this imbalance, Puri said, was for the pious to have three children: “One to serve the nation, one to take care of the home and one to serve the religion by becoming a priest.”

India’s former election chief, S.Y. Quraishi, has written extensively on the spread of disinformation about the country’s Muslim birthrate.

He said that claims Muslims would soon become India’s majority religion had proved to be a salient “propaganda” tool for Hindu nationalists.

“They continue to provoke Hindus to produce more children by creating a fear that Muslims will outnumber them,” he told AFP.

“This will never happen.”

 

Photo: In this undated photo, Muslim men pray at a mosque in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Shutterstock Photo)

Further reading about FORB in India on HRWF website





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INDIA : Hindu nationalism is exporting its Islamophobia

Hindu nationalism is exporting its Islamophobia

Hindutva is linking with other modern fascist movements across the globe.

By Omar Suleiman

 

RNS (06.10.2022) – https://bit.ly/3Td1RR3 – For years, one of the biggest threats to Muslims in the world has been the reinvention and rise of Hindu nationalism in India. This is in part because of the sheer number of Muslims in the country: Indian Muslims represent 10% of all Muslims worldwide. Now the movement known as Hindutva (“Hindu-ness”) is not only threatening Indian Muslims or India’s proud democratic tradition, it is spreading its radical nationalism around the globe.

 

The man behind India’s modern revival of Hindutva is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose career began in the ultraconservative Hindu organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. In the early 2000s, when Modi was chief minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat, a series of anti-Muslim riots there led to nearly 2,000 deaths by some estimates. Modi, who implicitly condoned the violence by doing little to stop it, became known as the Butcher of Gujarat. In 2005, Modi was denied entry to the United States under the International Religious Freedom Act.

 

But after Modi became prime minister in 2014, President Barack Obama welcomed him over fierce objections and protests from Indian Americans and human rights advocates. Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden have continued to normalize Modi’s facism, not only allowing him to visit but, in the case of Trump, appearing with him at a Texas rally celebrating his leadership.

 

In India, Hindutva has most egregiously impacted Muslims in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, but Hindutva has begun to come west. Last month in Leicester, England, young Hindu men marched through the streets chanting “Jai Sri Ram” — “Glory to Lord Ram,” a Hindu nationalist war cry — and attacking Muslims. Attacks at local houses of worship ensued, and nearly 50 people have been arrested.

 

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a public intellectual in India, wrote that the tensions in Leicester followed a familiar ethno-nationalist playbook for stoking violence: “the use of rumors, groups from outside the local community, and marches to create polarization in otherwise peaceful communities.”

 

Majid Freeman, a Muslim activist, told The New York Times’ Megan Specia that the Hindu nationalist aggression in Leicester had drained public trust in the historically diverse community, where Muslims and Hindus together make up about a quarter of the population. “We just want the city to go back to how it was,” said Freeman. “Now everyone is looking over their shoulders.”

 

Across the Atlantic, at an India Independence Day parade in Edison, New Jersey, the festivities included a bulldozer draped with a picture of Modi, whose political party, BJP, is associated with Hindutva causes. Bulldozers have become a symbol of Islamophobia in India, where they have been used to demolish homes belonging to Muslims on the mere suspicion of participating in protests or riots. A few months ago, I spoke with Afreen Fatima, an Indian Muslim activist whose home was bulldozed and her father imprisoned.

 

Pranay Somayajula, outreach coordinator for Hindus for Human Rights, has emphasized the need for urgent action to counter the spread of Hindutva. “The diaspora, and in particular Hindu Americans, urgently need to speak out against the infiltration of Hindutva hatred into our communities,” Somayajula said.

 

Modi’s Hindutva is part of a wider rise in fascist movements across the globe. Masked as ultraconservative nationalism, modern fascism has developed as a racist and anti-immigration identity, rooted in ignorance and moral decay. In many places, it includes a virulent Islamophobia. India’s ethno-nationalism has created bonds with other states, such as Israel.

 

Indeed, in 2019, Sandeep Chakravorty, India’s consul general to New York City, told Kashmiri Hindus and Indian nationals that India will foster Kashmir’s depleted Hindu population by building settlements modeled after Israel’s implanting of Jewish residents in Palestinian communities.

 

To those paying attention, Hindutva is a growing international crisis. The threat of genocide is an abomination emanating from the world’s largest democracy, and it’s already spilling over into our politics and streets at home.

 

Photo: A bulldozer razes structures in the area that saw communal violence during a Hindu religious procession in New Delhi’s northwest Jahangirpuri neighborhood, India, April 20, 2022. Authorities riding bulldozers razed a number of Muslim-owned shops in New Delhi before India’s Supreme Court halted the demolitions, days after communal violence shook the capital and saw dozens arrested. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Further reading about FORB in India on HRWF website


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