CAIRO - A group of Muslim scholars and activists are preparing a draft of personal law that would ban triple talaq (divorce) and restrict polygamy among Indian Muslims, The Times of India reported on Sunday, February 5.
"Codification of the personal law is the need of the hour," said reformist scholar Asghar Ali Engineer, whose Center for Study of Society and Secularism along with Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan and Institute of Islamic Studies championed the drive.
We are not bringing any new law but only reiterating the provisions which the Qur'an makes for Muslim men and women."
The draft suggested by the National Consultation on Codification calls for banning triple divorce at one time and restricting polygamy.
It also calls for the mandatory registration of all Muslim marriages with the state governments.The draft also appeals to the governments to appoint Muslim marriage registrars.
The consent of the bride will be made mandatory and the minimum age of the bride will be 18 and that of the groom 21.
The draft will be sent to parliament for approval to become law.
In Islam, marriage is a sacred bond that brings together a man and a woman by virtue of the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
Each partner in this sacred relationship must treat the other properly and with respect.
Divorce is not at all viewed favorably in Islam and is discouraged unless warranted by valid reasons.
Muslims account for 160 million of India's 1.1 billion people, the world's third-largest Islamic population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.
In India, divorce and marriage issues are dominated by All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the single largest religious body consisting of scholars of different schools of thought.
The AIMPLB was formed in 1973 to protect and apply Muslim Personal Law in marriage, divorce, succession and inheritance.
In 2005, Shiites and women seceded to form their own separate Boards, the All India Shiite Personal Law Board & the All India Muslim Women's Personal Law Board.
Scholars say that the draft law aims to educate Muslims about the true teachings of Islam as manifested in the holy Qur'an.
"There is no place for triple talaq in one seating," said Qutub Jehan Kidwai of the Mumbai-based Institute of Islamic Studies.
It must be abolished.
The scholars also say that the draft aims to restrict polygamy, who was encouraged during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) to sustain an overwhelming number of Muslim widows and orphans.
"The spirit of Islam is monogamy, Kidwai said.
A lot of men were killed in the battle of Ouhad and there were an overwhelming number of widows and orphans in Arabia.
Justice Shamsuddin, a retired judge of Kerala HC, agrees.
The Quranic verses, while allowing men to take up to four wives, clearly says that men cannot do justice to all of them and, therefore, should marry just one woman," he said.
Islam sees polygamy as a realistic answer to some social woes like adulterous affairs and lamentable living conditions of a widow or a divorced woman.
A Muslim man who seeks a second or a third wife should, however, make sure that he would treat them all on an equal footing.
The Noble Qur'an says that though polygamy is lawful it is very hard for a man to guarantee such fairness.