For over 6 months now the subject of banning Islamic Laws of the Social system has been discussed and debated across the Nation. Certain women groups such as the BMMA (Bhartiya Muslim Mahina Aandolan) and others have petitioned the Indian Supreme Court to ban ‘triple talaq’ as a means of instant divorce, arguing that it is unconstitutional, discriminatory and contrary to Islamic law. They have reasoned that women are not allowed to respond or object to the talaq, and are often left vulnerable after being suddenly abandoned and shunned by both family and the wider community whilst the men receive no repercussions. They also claim that the triple talaq violates Quranic injunctions on divorce, that it has no place theologically and should be banned legally.
With this new litigation, the Supreme court in India has decided to test whether the Islamic laws on the Social System meet the conditions put down by the Indian Constitution. It will assess whether these Islamic laws are in line with the idea of Freedom of religion and whether they ensure equality for both the sexes.
The Indian Courts and the Indian Government have for long carried the viewpoint that,"absence of reforms in the community in the last 65 years have left Muslim women “extremely vulnerable — both socially as well as financially”, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Indian Govt recently said that polygamy and triple talaq, “cannot be regarded as essential or integral part of the religion”.
Similarly the Indian Law ministry on the issue of polygamy and triple talaq, said that the validity of these practices required a “reconsideration” by the top court, “in light of the principle of gender justice and overriding principle of non-discrimination, dignity and equality” as well as “evolution of women”,
Muslim Organisations across the nation have spoken strongly against any interference in the Islamic Personal laws by the Government of India and the banning of Triple Talaq and other Islamic laws.
Many Muslims have framed their defensive argument based on the rights that the Indian constitution gives them. Some Muslim Scholars whilst referring to the concepts of Freedom of religion and Gender equality have said, “It is a right under our Constitution to practise our own respective religion”.
Another well known Islamic scholar argued, “We are uneasy with the way the Centre’s argument is framed, to make it a contest between Islam and the Constitution, where Islam is made out to be out of line with ideas of equality and gender justice. This is wrong… Islam is not anti-women, Islam also allows Khula (where the woman is free to seek divorce).”
THE ISLAMIC WAY OF APPROACHING THIS ISSUE
1. Firstly it should be clear in our minds, that Islam is a complete way of life unlike any other religion. It is not like Hinduism, Jainism, Budhism, Christianity or any other religion which are mere rituals of marriage , inheritance and worship.
2. Secondly, for Muslims the idea of who is Al-Haakim (law maker) is a fundamental aspect of the Islamic Aqeedah, i.e. Al-Hakim means ‘The Legislator’, the one who is sovereign, who has the right to make rules and laws, to decide the halal (permitted) and haram (prohibited) for mankind.
Let us remember that the idea of ‘Man’ making laws is the idea of the Godless western society which relegates God to the confines of the Church and give man the charge of man making laws.
However, the question we need to ask ourselves - Does Man by the use of his mind alone have the ability to determine which actions should be deemed good and bad? Which actions should be praised and which should be shunned? Or do we require the guidance of the Creator, Allah (swt)? There is no doubt that man has the ability to judge the reality as it is and to conclude certain facts about that which we can sense. However, it is beyond the scope of the mind to determine laws pertaining to deciding between good and evil actions and a regulatory system including the solutions to all human problems whether individual, social, economic or political. Any such attempt would be fraught with disparity, difference, contradiction and influence from the environment.
Allah (swt), the creator of men and women says: "But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not." [TMQ Al Baqarah: 216]
This is the reason why Allah (swt) in Surah Mai’dah says: “And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the disbelievers..” which means that as a Muslim it is not allowed for him to accept any man made court and any man-made book to arbitrate on the Shari’ah of Allah (swt) because all man made laws are false and the only correct law that is applicable to human beings is the divine law by the creator of Mankind, Allah (swt).
ADDRESSING REAL ISSUES INSTEAD OF ATTACKING ISLAM
The Indian Government and its Supreme court have failed to address the deep rooted real problems in the Indian society, instead they have chosen to raise their voices against Islam, comfortably choosing to ignore the real problems that it has created due to its unending embrace of the Western way of life.
The West offers individual freedom as the progressive basis of life. By individual freedom what’s meant is that an individual is completely free in how he or she lives his or her life. Sex is promoted everywhere from billboards, movies, music, adverts – everywhere. They have taken something which should be for the bedroom, for the private life and promoted it in the whole society.
The West views women as sex objects. They value women by their looks – making women obsessed about looking the right way and how men perceive them. This problem is not limited to the west, rather has been exported wholesale to countries like India who are trying to catch up with the liberal west.
The Bollywood culture, along with other entertainment, advertising, and pornography industries sanctioned by India’s secular liberal democratic system have presented the woman as an object to play to the desires of men. A sexualized society encourages individuals to pursue their selfish carnal desires and promotes extra-marital relationships, nurturing a culture of promiscuity and cheapening the relationships between men and women. All this has desensitized the disgust that should be felt towards the violation of women’s dignity in the minds of many men.
Let us look at where the Indian society is heading. In 2015, India ranked third among the list of countries that watched pornography the most. It was a one rank jump as compared to 2014, where India was at number four. According to a survey by a Mysore based NGO, Rescue led by Abhishek Clifford, 66 per cent boys in undergraduate courses in India start watching porn at the age of 9 with an average of 7 hours a week. The survey states as many as 30% of boys watch violent porn, including on an average 19 rapes per week. A whopping 1.7 lakh new students start watching rapes each year and by the time they enter the degree course, they would have seen 4,900 rapes. 84% said watching porn is progressive and addictive. About 83% of students surveyed said porn leads to sexual activity and 74% said it motivates them to go to prostitutes.
Several surveys and independent researches indicate that there has been a steep rise in the graph of couples seeking divorce. A decade ago one out of every thousand Indians were seeking divorce. However, the figure has gone up thirteen times in 2015, where every 13 out of a thousand married couples wanted separation.
India’s business Capital, Mumbai – witnessed 11,667 cases of divorce that were filed in 2014 as compared to only 5245 cases in 2010. Lucknow for instance registered 2000 couples filing for divorce in 2014 – as compared to a meagre 300 in 2009. The trend is fairly similar in all the major cities all over India. The demand for divorce is so high that in 2013, 3 more family courts were opened in Bengaluru alone, to cater to the unprecedented rush of couples seeking separation.
These are the fruits of freedom and these should not be considered surprising but in fact are an inevitable occurrence since a solution proposed by man’s limited mind will never be able to address the intricacies of human life and its requirements.
So, those criticising Islam need to open their eyes and look at the problems that their own way of life has created. There are far more deep rooted problems that they should be addressing instead of attacking Islam, they should be looking for solutions for a society:
- That has lost its moral compass.
- That has encouraged sexualisation of woman in films and advertising.
- That has encouraged free mixing as we see on New Year’s eve and on Valentines day.
- That it has accepted pornography and pornographic actors/actresses as part of their society.
- The current system, media and entertainment industry instils concepts of freedom and the unrestricted satisfaction of needs and instincts.
THE ISLAMIC VIEW TOWARDS WOMAN
Islam does not believe in the ideas of freedom and liberation of women and does not discuss the relation between men and women in terms of gender equality, for it does not leave the human being to decide how he or she should live her life according to her own desires or allow mankind to legislate their own laws for the society and create their own system from the ignorance, bias, greed, and limited understanding that they have of each other’s needs. The system comes completely from the Creator, covering all of life’s affairs: ruling, economic, judicial, education and the social system, dealing with the relationship and duties of men and women within the society. As a verse in the Noble Qur’an in Surah Al-Ahzab states,
“It is not fitting for a believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision. If anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path”. [TMQ Ahzab:36]
Within Islam, the Muslim woman has contentment in her life, because the only expectations she has to live up to are those of the Creator and not the continually changing or unrealistic expectations of her husband, family, community or society. In Islam, where the man and the woman share similar qualities in their nature, the obligation prescribed to both is the same such as the salaat (prayer) sawm (fasting), and Hajj (pilgrimage). However, where the nature differs then different duties have been prescribed.
In Islam, the duty prescribed to the man is not viewed as better than the role prescribed to the woman. Rather, the duties prescribed to the man are seen as responsibilities that need to be fulfilled and for which the man will be held accountable to Allah (swt). Likewise, the woman will also be held accountable as to how well she fulfilled her responsibilities. Both duties complement one another and are crucial for the family and society to function properly and with tranquillity.
Hence, equality between men and women is not an issue for discussion, nor is it an issue that forms a subject in the social system of Islam. The woman being equal to the man, or, the man being equal to the woman is not a significant matter which has influence over the societal life nor is it a problem which is likely to occur in the Islamic life. It is but a phrase that is only found in the West. Islam has nothing to do with these terms because it has established its own social system on a firm basis that ensures communal and societal cohesion.
With regards to the honour, respect, and security that a woman deserves, Islam establishes this in two ways. Firstly, Islam rejects liberal freedoms and rather promotes Taqwa (God-consciousness) within society that nurtures a mentality of accountability in the manner by which men view and treat women. It prohibits the sexualisation of society as well as all forms of objectification and exploitation of women’s bodies, such that the relationship between the sexes is never cheapened or the woman devalued. It celebrates a comprehensive social system that regulates the relationship between men and women, and includes a modest dress code, the segregation of the genders, and prohibition of extramarital relationships – all of which directs the fulfilment of the sexual desires to marriage alone, protecting women and society.
The second manner by which Islam protects the honour of the woman is by the presence of an Islamic authority or a Khilafah. The Khilafah is the ruling system of Islam that applies all of the commands of Islam that includes the prayer, the fasting, the zakat (obligatory charity), the economic laws, the social system and the punishment system of Islam.
It is this Khilafah which existed for over 1300 years since it was established in Madina by our beloved Messenger Muhammad (saw). It has been absent in our lands for almost 90 years.
And due to this absence of comprehensive application of Islam, some Muslim’s have made the Eastern Culture and sometimes the Western culture as a basis in their lives and this is the reason behind increasing injustice against Muslim women. So it should be clear in our minds that the real reason for the increasing problems among Muslims is not the Islamic rules rather the non-application of Islamic rules in a comprehensive manner.
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND
1. Muslims in India should raise their voices against the interference in the Islamic laws. This is something that many Muslims are already doing, however we should expose the real problems in the Indian society that have been created as a result of the Western way of life which the Indian government has embraced and seeks to implement over Muslims as well.\
2. Muslims should expose the increasing problems in the Indian societies due to the perpetuating ideas of freedom and liberty.
3. Muslims should be decisive in their stance that the Islamic law is ordained by the creator of All mankind, he is the legislator, Allah (swt) and no man or man-made court is qualified to judge the laws made by the creator of man.
4. Muslims should realise that the real solution to all of the problems in modern day societies is through the comprehensive implementation of the Islamic system.