In wake of the recent aggressive media debates and political interventions on matters of Shariah, Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind) has launched a countrywide awareness campaign for Muslim Personal Law. During the fortnight long campaign, Jamaat will reach out to both Muslim masses and fellow countrymen in order to remove their ignorance and misconceptions about Muslim Personal Law and teachings of Islam on family issues like marriage and divorce etc.
Briefing the national media on Friday about the “Muslim Personal Law Awareness Campaign” (23 April-07 May), top leaders of the Jamaat said it is mostly the ignorance of the Muslim masses about Islamic family laws and their consequent faulty conduct whilst dealing with domestic disputes that have created a distorted image of Muslims and Islam.
“It must be recognised that the primary reason for violation of Shariat is largescale ignorance of Muslim masses and lack of sincere commitment to Islamic norms. A large segment of Muslim society does not even know the basics of Islam. Many Muslims do not know the rules and instructions which would guide them in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance and the like. Hence, there is an imperative need to educate, uplift and morally reform the Muslim society, as a whole,”said Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari, Ameer (president of Jamaat and also vice president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board) of Jamaat while addressing a press conference at the Press Club of India.
He said the current debate in the media and political circles is to divert attention from real issues of the community. It must be noted that Muslims have been practicing the Shariat since time immemorial and there was never any issue in practicing the Shariah laws. Women’s rights are well protected by Muslim Personal Law, said Maulana Umari who is also Vice President of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
Maulana Umari was also critical of the way the judiciary, legislature and media have been interfering in Muslim Personal Law.
“Courts of the land often pass judgments contrary to the position of Islamic Shariat on disputes related to Muslim Personal Law and then these judgments become legal precedents. Legislative bodies also interfere in it while the media portrays a one sided image of Muslim Personal Law. They are seldom aware of real teachings of Islam; rather they are usually misled by the faulty conduct of Muslims themselves, which presents a distorted image of the Islamic law,” said Jamaat chief.
The JIH President was accompanied by top leaders of the organization, including Nusrat Ali (Vice President), Mohammad Salim Engineer (Secretary General), Mohammad Ahmed (Secretary for Community & Political Affairs), Mohammed Jafar, national convener of the campaign and Atiya Siddiqua (head of Jamaat’s women wing).
When asked how two laws (Islamic and Indian) can be run in the country at the same time, Jamaat leaders categorically said Muslims in India have constitutional right to practice Muslim Personal Law.“Indian Constitution has given us right to practice our religious laws. It is our constitutional right,” they said.
“The Shariat Application Act was enacted in 1937 on the insistence of the Muslim community. After Independence, the Indian Constitution continued to recognize the legal status of Shariat because it counted freedom of religion among fundamental rights. Freedom of religion obviously implies the freedom to follow Muslim Personal Law, because the latter is derived from the Qur’ān and Sunnah themselves. No individual or group has the authority to amend the Divine law,” said Jamaat.
During the campaign, Jamaat plans to reach 4-5 crore people, said Mohammad Jafar, national convener of the campaign and also member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. “For this, 700 public meetings and 8000 Friday sermons will be used. Besides cities and towns, the campaign will cover 20,000 villages,” he said.
Jamaat’s Secretary General Mohammad Salim Engineer said Jamaat has designed an app called MPLAC for this campaign to reach out people. People can download it from the website of Jamaat.
As hints of political intervention in Muslim Personal Law growing, Jamaat has given a call to Muslims to assert their right to follow the religion of their choice.
“Right since Independence, Muslims of India have clearly stated that they reject the idea of uniform civil code. They have opposed all attempts by courts or legislative bodies to interfere in Muslim personal law. Muslims are required to resist any attempt from any quarter to change the Muslim personal law or dilute or abolish it. Muslims must assert their natural right to follow the religion of their choice,” it said.