The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a non-government organisation, which articulates the personal laws of Muslims in India, and often gets embroiled in controversy because of its “archaic” approach to Muslim laws, especially regarding women, seems to be fast losing touch with the youth of the community. The board is currently in the news because of a Supreme Court hearing on a petition regarding “Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality”.
The AIMPLB was constituted in 1973 as an organisation to safeguard and represent the religious laws of the minority Muslim community of the country. Often projecting itself as the spokesperson of the Muslim opinion, it has repeatedly resisted reforms in the divorce laws for Muslims, and is rigidly against the Uniform Civil Code.
The Muslim youth, especially young women, want a change in the Muslim personal laws and some of them even seem ready to welcome the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code.
Atiya Samreen, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia, said, “If the AIMPLB is dissolved it will help us to prevent the exploitation of women in the Muslim community. On the other hand, the board also safeguards all the madrasas running throughout the country and protects their rights. A solution to this is that women should be made aware of their rights.”
An alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University, Abir Ahmed stated, “As Muslim liberals, the youth does not want to get pressurised by the extreme views of Muslim clerics and laws. We respect our faith and at the same time are striving to survive in a multi religious society. The majority of the youth does not want to get perceived on the basis of the staunch views of a few. Islam directs one to make religion simple. But laws like triple talaq too have many exemptions that can benefit the women. It’s just that one needs to get educated about them.”
Incidents where husbands have divorced wives through SMS, Skype, and other such modern technology are not unheard of. Apart from the mental and emotional turmoil, a divorce of this kind also leaves the wife with very little time to readjust her life while the man often comes out on top. “The wave of technology is definitely being abused by some people in this regard. What is needed in situations like these is for the community to come to a consensus about the extent to which these technologies can be made a part and parcel of the procedure,” says Hakim Yasir Abbas, a PHD scholar at the National Law University, New Delhi. Talking of some case files where the women have suffered terribly because of the decision of the clerics, he says, “Such incidents arise because the community itself is not aware of its rights and of the laws. This ignorance is utilised by some segments of society to propagate their own interpretation of the Sharia. These issues can be sorted only when the community comes up with certain uniform guidelines,” he added.
When asked if he sees any disconnect between the youth and organisations like AIMPLB, he said, “Absolutely. There is a need for the youth to speak up and tell the board what they want from them and how they want it. It is up to them to tell the board which aspects of their life they need the board to look into and take care of and where to leave them alone,” said Yasir Abbas.