Following a three-day workshop on creating awareness of the rights of Muslim women, a delegation of over 60 Muslim activists from across India on Sunday proposed that Muslim personal law including marriage, divorce, bigamy and polygamy should be codified.
At present, except for three enactments — Shariat Act, 1937, Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 and Muslim Women’s Act, 1986 — Muslim personal law is largely not codified.
“Islamic laws in principle are very gender just. But in practice they are destroyed. What we call personal law is not even Sharia law. We as a group of activists have decided that the law should be Quranic and be properly codified,” said Asghar Ali Engineer, director of Centre for study for Society and Secularism, which organised the workshop with the Institute for Islamic Studies.
As per the Quranic procedure, divorce is preceded by arbitration. The marriage is then dissolved in the presence of two witnesses. “Triple talaq is a customary introduction by Muslims. It is illegal,” said advocate Neelofar Akhtar, who participated in the workshop.
“Polygamy is also permitted in a very strict condition. The Quran says a man can have four wives but has to do justice to all. If he fears he cannot do justice, he should marry only once,” said Engineer. He proposes a codified law related to successive marriages whereby the man should inform the board about marrying the second time and also state the grounds for which he wants to marry the second time.