Proposed changes in Muslim Personal Law

Proposed changes in Muslim Personal Law

The practice of triple talaq for divorcing a Muslim woman and the freedom extended to Muslim males to practise polygamy were in some quarters regarded as violation of the dignity of Muslim women and also discriminatory. These two features of Muslim Personal Law were some of the sticking points to the enactment of Uniform Civil Code as contemplated by Article 44 of the Directive Principles of our Constitution. According to press reports, a group of Muslim scholars and activists have made a valiant attempt towards codification of Muslim Personal Law. The national consultation on codification has prepared a progressive draft which among other things bans triple talaq and restricts polygamy. According to the reformist scholar Asghar Ali Engineer, the group is not bringing any new law but only reiterating the provisions which the Quran makes for Muslim men and women. Qutub Jehan Kidwai of the Mumbai based Institute of Islamic Studies was emphatic that there is no place for triple talaq in one seating and that it must be abolished. The Quranic verses which are relied upon in justification of the liberty given to Muslim males to take up to four wives, on a proper interpretation clearly says that males cannot do adequate justice to all four wives and, therefore, should marry just one woman. The draft document also makes registration of all Muslim marriages with the state governments mandatory and further provides that consent of the bride be made mandatory and the minimum age of the bride should be 18 and that of the groom 21. Some of these provisions will no doubt generate controversies but they clearly reflect a progressive trend. It is hoped that forces of sanity will ultimately prevail which will better the lot of Muslim women and ensure them a life of dignity.

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