Follow Turkey in Muslim personal law

Follow Turkey in Muslim personal law

By M.D. Nalapat | 4 September, 2016
According to Nehruvian secularism, the ‘majority’ can do no right and the ‘minority’ no wrong.
Since 1947, India has practised a form of “secularism” that has served as a time-bomb primed to explode and once again shatter into fragments the unity of the country. Nehruvian secularism is unique in that it discriminates against the “majority” community, placing restrictions on it that are absent in “minority” communities. In the first place, even within the maelstrom of identity, the terms “majority” and “minority” are misleading. Neither the Hindu nor the Muslim (nor indeed the Christian or the Sikh) faiths are monolithic. Within these hyper-broad terms, there exist huge differences, and indeed, across many points of each sub-community’s cultural matrix, commonality may be more with elements of other faiths than with their own. Not that such a mixing of traditions and cultures is in any way objectionable. Indeed, the very diversity of India is what promotes an overall unity within the country, expressed strongly, for example, in situations such as war. Such tolerance of diversity has been under test recently, and not by those claiming to be the inheritors of Nehruvian tradition and practices. Ongoing efforts to introduce changes in diet or dress or lifestyle through the coercive mechanism of penal law are damaging to the future of India, for it is the tolerance for diversity that keeps the country united. Not merely beef but meat of any kind is, in the view of this columnist, “against the order of nature”, where human beings are considered. But the matter needs to be tackled through social conscientisation, not through the police, but through social reformers. If Devendra Fadnavis would like every citizen in India to stop eating beef, or if Nitish Kumar wishes a similar abstinence from alcohol, that is their right. But they are overstepping the boundaries set by democracy when they seek to enforce their personal preferences on the rest of the population through the police. Moral policing, food policing, alcohol policing are creating an image of an India in the grip of those who mimic the Saudi “Muttawa” in their approach to lifestyles. The Supreme Court has thus far retained its assent for certain Victorian laws which have been cast aside even in the country of their origin, but it is hoped that the Apex Court will in future—if it errs at all—err on the side of freedom rather than on the preservation of the repressive superstructure of the colonial state that has been retained since the time in office of that globally renowned prince of democracy, Jawaharlal Nehru.

According to Nehruvian secularism, the “majority” can do no right and the “minority” no wrong. Hence, when laws designed to bring some of the traditional practices of those professing Hinduism into the 20th century, any effort at ensuring a similar modernising exercise on the Muslim community was discarded. Since that time, much of the policies of the Indian state have had the unintended effect of distancing Hindus and Muslims from each other. Such forbearance, which Nehru thought would prevent a second partition, has in fact furthered the conditions for it, by separating citizens of India into two boxes (“minority” and “majority”) that are in practical terms meaningless.

An example is what is termed the “personal law” relating to marriage and divorce. In India, women who are born into the Muslim faith are subject to divorce in seconds, with all that is needing to be done by the husband being the repetition of the word “talaq” three times, in a manner wholly contradictory to the example set by Prophet Mohammad, who from the early days of his life treated women with the respect they merit as, among other virtues, the mothers of every human being on the planet. Despite the Wahhabisation that has continued in that country since the days of Zia ul-Haq, such a dismissive approach to the dignity and rights of a female spouse are absent in Pakistan. The personal laws as practised in India qualify to make this country among the most retrogressive in the world, a circumstance which needs to change. At a minimum, Muslim women in India should be given the same rights in divorce proceedings as their counterparts in Turkey, the original home of the Islamic Caliphate, including in restrictions on the number of wives a man is legally entitled to wed. Islamic doctrine is meant to be dynamic, adjusting to changes caused by the efflux of time, and any Wahhabi-style effort to lock such doctrine into a static mode is to do disservice to its teachings.

Unfortunately, in India as in the US or the EU, “authentic” Muslims are regarded solely as those who are ultra-rigid in their views and practices. That only those with flowing beards and all-covering burkhas can be “good” Muslims, which is nonsense. Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister began his fall from popular favour when in 1985 he ignored voices such as those of Arif Mohammad Khan and went ahead with legislation to reverse the Shah Bano verdict of the Supreme Court of India. It is wrong to regard the fringe as representative of the Muslim community in India, exactly as it ridiculous to tar the whole of Hindu society with a brush meant for the Sadhvi Prachis. Triple talaq as practised in India goes against every human right of Muslim women in India. While equality under the law would be the ideal at the very least, what is needed is to bring divorce and marriage practices for Muslim women here in sync with those of Turkey, a country even the most diehard in the AIMPLB would find it difficult to denounce as “anti-Muslim”.

There are 16 Comments

Around election time, BJP shouts about Nehru and his family's blunders, be it PoK, UCC, article 370, or others. However, they have never lifted a finger to remedy these blunders. Vajpayee, Advani or Modi - lots of rhetoric. Will Modi do anything? Doubtful. Had placed a lot of hope on him.

Perhaps u should've watched Modiji's interview on Network18. He clearly gives an indication for not going to bell the cat. Keep aside bell, Modiji has not even brought the rope and everyone are screaming "political witch hunt". And you know indian voters are very centi. If u are young, wait n watch. Or else, I pray for your long life to witness the cat with bell.

As well said by S kumar. Who is going to dare to bell the cat ??


Who is going to bell the cat !! India is a democracy. Voters will bell the cat. See the mood in country changes. Its easy to blame Govt for everything. And make mockery of Mr.Modi, the only effective PM till now. Author is convinced for Uniform Civil Law, changing definition of Secularism. Are so called Secular Intelligentia of India, in favour of this...!!!!!!! It is still Aam Janta that is making decisions.. GST got passed.. why not Art 370 be abolished... Educate Aam Janta, idiot secular elite..

Nehruvian Secularism has divided the society. Two genuine models of Secularism are possible: (i) The country can be governed based on Hindu majority laws, with complete protection for minorities in the form of personal laws etc and protection for minority institutions to practice their faith and practices. (ii) The Govts can be strictly neutral to all religions, but then there is no need for protection for minorities in any form; else, it will be loaded against the majority. Strict neutrality has to be observed, in practice, not just in words. There will be hardliners from majority and minority communities (and of course, Nehruvian Secularists) who will object to both these models. But I believe the aam aadmi of all religions will understand and agree to at least one of these models, if presented in this form.

India is a country of many diversities. Diversity is not division into fighting groups. It is to know each other well and to strengthen the bond of relationship. No law or ideology can eliminate these diversity and put people in the same line of thought, habit, culture, lifestyle and belief.

I never suggested elimination of diversities of thought, habit, culture, lifestyle and belief, in either of the models. I never suggested dividing them into fighting groups; in fact, just the opposite. Current practice has precisely done that, making two groups fight. If India is governed by Hindu majoritariaism, then there should be very strong protection of minorities to counter-balance that. If the State is neutral to all religions, it should be strictly neutral to all religions; else, Hindus will feel shortchanged, which is what is happening now, which is the cause of all tension. How are 'both models' against any religious groups?

Agree with the spirit of your suggestion. However what I do not understand is what specific laws make the majority feel short changed? Or what specific 'exceptions' allowed for any minority make the majority feel short changed? For example, how does the triple talaq tradition of Muslims make the people of other faiths feel short changed? Doesnt it actually make the people of other faith feel better about their religions and its respect of their women? Dont get me wrong, even I, as a citizen of India and as a fellow human, strongly support abolishing of this triple talaq provision. But my push for that is not because it is in anyway today makes other faith followers feel discriminated. It is not a privilege for God's sake, it is a curse.

The only reason India is democratic is because Muslims are not close to a majority.. if they were, they'd tend towards mullah authoritarianism as seen everywhere, and slowly even in Turkey now. So if Muslims can produce more children from having many wives and divorcing older wives easily, then their population will increase.. and Saudi funds will ensure that the mullahs who control this whole patriarchical process will continue to be funded and the country wahhabized. Its already happening..more hijabs, less eating of sweets at Diwali or Holi. Why are temple funds controlled by the state and then redistributed the way it feels free? No church the contrary churches have had large land endowments in plum areas bestowed on them through the legacy of the British Raj. Look at who controls the temples in Kerala, Karnataka etc. The country would be up in arms if a single church or mosque's funds come under state control. Why is the Mamata govt paying for salaries of madrassas teachers? And they have the cojones to even go on strike saying they haven't gotten enough? Why is the govt paying for Haj flights? People are free to go on pilgrimages, but why is the state involved in any of that? The definition of minority also is flawed.. The Church and the Mullahs are not disadvantaged in the sense that they are funded by powerful countries from abroad. Saudi Arabia, England, USA, Germany, Norway -- all rich countries/religious NGOs funding religious institutions in India..and supposedly secular NGOs who they use to continually try to break the back of Hindu society when THEY FEEL FREE to do the same things in their own societies.. e.g. feminist NGOs will find some thing wrong with some Hindu festival saying women don't have enough rights.. But their backers in Western countries are amongst the worst patriarchical offenders in the world :) Breaking Hindu society has the benefit of weakening India..which can be helpful if you want to either convert or go to war with India.


"Nehruvian Secularism,Directive Principles of State Policies & Personal Law ",are mirror image of "TwoNationTheory",on which India had been Partitioned. Law Ministry of India,Legilators,eminent personalities, Lawyers/Judiciary etc.,must perusal & look into the impending danger in the years to come & witness the same...!!!

The article has failed to address the issue in just manner. It seems that it is based on the writer's personal likes and dislikes. His sweeping inferences on minority-majority rights smell biased. India is a sovereign nation and its people are capable to reform themselves according to their choice, need and the land of the laws.

What is wrong with protecting a Muslim woman's rights in a marriage with a Muslim man, by abolishin the three-times spoken talaq tradition?

Everytime when an election comes BJP will never forget to put its three contentious issues in small prints in the last page of its election Manifesto and puts it in cold storage. If anyone raises the issue his voice is muffled. If at all anyone is at it 24X7 , it is non other than Dr. Subramanian Swami.

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