Muslim marriage oversight: women favour, others oppose

October 24th, 2008 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Kozhikode, Oct 24 (IANS) There were predictable differences among Muslim organisations in Kerala over the state High Court’s suggestion for a system of oversight of Muslim marriages and divorces, with women favouring it and religious bodies opposing it.The High Court, hearing a case involving a Muslim couple, said Wednesday that though polygamy was allowed in Islam there was no system in place at the national or regional level to supervise marriages and divorces.

V.P. Suhra, the president of NISA, a Muslim women’s organisation, said the court’s observation was a welcome development.

“The government should implement these observations. Divorces in the community are unilateral action taken by men. Holy Koran has been wrongly interpreted to perpetuate male hegemony. The religious heads are likely to oppose the court’s observation as it will erode their authority,” Suhra told IANS.

The court’s observation did not find favour with many Muslim organisations.

“We cannot accept regional or national committees for supervising marriages and divorces. These things should be done within the community itself,” said T.M. Bappu Musliyar, the state secretary of the Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyyathul Ulama, a prominent Sunni organisation.

There are systems and laws within the community to sort out any problem between a husband and wife, he said.

Another influential Sunni group, All India Jam-Iyyathul Ulama, also said it opposed the setting up of the committees to oversee marriages and divorces.

“I don’t think the setting up of committees to supervise marriages and divorces will be of any benefit. These are issues to be handled by religious scholars,” said A.P. Aboobacker Musliyar, a member of the group.

He said there were clear provisions in Islam to protect the interests of women. If people were misusing the provisions for polygamy and divorce in Islam, the solution was to make them enlightened on religious injunctions. “Supervision by outside committees will not do any good,” he added.

Muslim intellectuals, however, welcomed the observation of the court.

“The Indian parliament should make a law that the second marriage or divorce by a Muslim male should follow a due process by the court of law,” said M.N. Karassery, a Malayalam columnist.

The Vanitha League, the women’s wing of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) declined to comment on the issue.

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