LUCKNOW: It took 32 long years. A saga which began with Shah Bano in 1985 climaxed with Shayara Bano in 2017 with the Supreme Court holding the practice of Triple Talaq illegal. However, while reaction to the verdict among Muslim women tended to be guardedly celebratory, the response of conservatives in the community was warily guarded.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a party to the litigation which supported Triple Talaq — calling it the edict of Allah laid down in the religious texts — played safe.
In an official statement, the AIMPLB pointed out that it has already submitted to the Supreme Court that it has been discouraging the practice in the community as it amounted to an infringement of the rights of Muslim women.
“In an affidavit filed on May 22, 2017, we had informed the court about our stand of issuing instructions to clerics to incorporate conditions in the nikaahnama to exclude the option of pronouncing talaq three times in one sitting,” said the board’s official statement.
On the contrary, the Deoband Darul Uloom, the prominent Muslim seminary in western UP, could not hide its disagreement with the Supreme Court verdict. “It is a religious issue and any interference in the Shariat will not be tolerated,” said Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani, its vice-chancellor.
The cautious reaction of conservative sections of the Muslim community stemmed in part from apprehension that this might lead to incursions into personal laws. Nomani warned against any “interference” either by the courts or Parliament in Muslim personal laws. However, he added that his institution would abide by the stand of the AIMPLB on the issue.
“As far as Darul Uloom is concerned, we don’t accept this judgment. But it is a bit too early to give a final statement on this issue as we still have not received the entire judgment,” Nomani said.
The AIMPLB said it wait for clarity on the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict and red-flagged any interpretation of the order that would breach the protection granted to Muslim personal laws in Indian jurisprudence.
Claiming vindication, the board drew relief from the fact that three of the five judges on the bench (chief Justice Khehar, jutices Abdul Nazeer and Kurian Joseph) accorded personal laws the status of a fundamental rights protected under Article 25 (right to practice religion).
However, the Supreme Court order does raise apprehensions in some sectarian leaders of possible future infringements of the fundamental right to faith and religion guaranteed in the Constitution. Maulana Shahbuddin Rizvi, the national general secretary of the Jamat Raza-e-Mustafa, an influential Barelvi Sunni sect, said, “The Constitution of India has given us the freedom to exercise one’s faith and it should be upheld at any cost.”
But the triple talaaq order did bring out in relief different perceptions in the community. Arif Mohammed Khan, who initially piloted the Rajiv Gandhi government’s abortive move on the Shah Bano case, welcomed Tuesday’s order, calling it revolutionary which would have widespread ramifications but for the betterment of the minority community.