ibnlive » India

Mar 18, 2008 at 12:14pm IST

Conflict in Muslim Boards over new nikahnama

New Delhi: A new nikahnama or marriage contract released by the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) has challenged the existing model contract in a bid to empower Muslim women.

The newly released Shariat nikahnama also challenges the authority of the highest Muslim law-making body in India and is questioning the marriage laws laid down by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).

“Women have to deal with broken homes and unhappy lives because of unfair laws. We hope that this will not happen any more,“ said AIMWPLB President, Shaista Ambar.

The new nikahnama, written in both Urdu and Hindi states that registration of marriages is compulsory.

It goes on to say that divorce proceedings are to be spaced out over a period of three months and adds that triple talaq in one go is not acceptable.

Talaq is also not allowed via telephone, e-mail or SMS text. Current law permits this to carry on unchecked.

The nikahnama also demands free will for the girl for her nikah.

The AIMPLB has rejected this new document, stating that the women's group has no authority to introduce changes.

Says AIMPLB member Khalid Rasheed, " No one has the right to include any point in Islamic law which has not been included in the Islamic scripture. I think All India Women’s Board has no base."

The new nikahnama is facing strong opposition from clerics and Muslim hardliners within the AIMPLB, indicating that it might not easily find acceptance among a large section of Muslims.

For the Board, which is often accused of being a patriarchal body, these radical suggestions have raised some difficult issues.

“No matter what religion, patriarchy always tries to stifle,” says Planning Commission member, Sayeda Hameed. “Patriarchy needs to be challenged.”

What the women are demanding may not be accepted, but it has definitely sparked off a debate much needed by society.

(With inputs from Abhishek Patni in Lucknow)

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