Islam is the most debated religion nowadays, not only in reference to terrorism, and the situation, but also to the position and rights of Muslim women, which is a global concern. Because of Islam’s deeply established principles, Muslim women are subjected to the faith in their religion, and getting any rights in the contemporary world is difficult.
Personal laws work hand in hand with faith in our country’s legal system. It implies that each religion has its own set of rules that are based on its customs and functions, while still keeping in mind the rights given to an individual under the Constitution. One of the most important enactments in the Indian law is on the rights of Muslim women bypassing the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019. This legislation forbids the archaic practice which allows a Muslim man to divorce his wife by stating ‘triple Talaq’, this proclamation is deemed void and unlawful. This method is chauvinistic and highlights the superiority of the male sex over the female, as such if this practice of divorce takes no consideration of the women’s view on the matter transpires, the woman has the right to take custody of her children if any.
RIGHTS OF MUSLIM WOMEN
ISLAM is the first religious group to acknowledge women as legal entities and to provide them all of the rights that men have. The Quran mentions several women, but only one is named, Mary, and she is referenced more times than she is in the Bible. Surah Maryam is an entire chapter in the Quran that is dedicated to her.
The sacred books of Islam are among the factors that have played an essential part in determining the social, legal, spiritual, and cosmological position of women throughout Islamic history: the Quran; the Hadith. Islam liberated women from servitude granted them equal rights and valued their individuality as human beings. Islam elevated the position of women by establishing rights for them –
- Rights of possession
- Right to ownership
- Right to inheritance
- Right to education
- Right to marriage and divorce
On August 1, 2019, Muslim Women’s Rights Day is marked in the context of the Triple Talaq Bill, which was enacted in Parliament on August 1, 2019. The triple Talaq bill was a significant step in freeing Muslim women from the shackles of societal evil that came in the shape of divorce conditions. Cases such as ‘Shah Bano Begum & Ors against Mohd. Ahmad Khan’ and ‘Shayara Bano versus Union of India and Ors’ set the groundwork for the relocation. In her writ suit, Shayara Bano urged the Supreme Court to rule that the three practices- Talaq-e-biddat, polygamy, and nikah-halala- are illegal. Cases were being filed alleging violations of Articles 14, 15, 21, and 25 of the Constitution.
THE RESPONSE OF JUDICIARY
The judicial system has already been reluctant in its response to the status of women under Muslim personal law. Many of the instances demonstrate to the institution that our judiciary’s function has been healthy and satisfactory. And I hope that the judiciary for the hijab matter is likewise healthy, true, and satisfied this time. On numerous occasions, the SUPREME COURT has examined personal laws based on the criterion of basic rights and also to make them consistent with fundamental rights. It is quite fascinating to notice that our judiciary has given us so many key rulings friendly to MUSLIM WOMEN, even though they are not considered landmarks in this regard.
SOME OF THE IMPORTANT CASES ARE
- In Shayra Bano v Union of India: The Supreme Court further held that the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act 1937 is void because it recognizes and enforces triple Talaq, citing Article 13(1), which asserts that all laws in force prior to the enactment of the current Constitution (including the 1937 Act) are void if they are inconsistent with the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled that the practice of Talaq-e-biddat is not protected by the exception in Article 25, because it is not an essential component of Islam. The court defended its stance by claiming that, while the Hanafi School practices it, it is sinful. Triple Talaq contradicts the fundamental tenets of Islam.
- AIR 1985 SC 945 Mohd. Ahmad Khan v. Shah Bano Begum: Under this case, it sparked extraordinary arguments and controversies about Muslim women’s rights to seek alimony from their husbands post-divorce. It eventually resulted in the enactment of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act in 1986.
In today’s Indian political debate, Muslim women have always had a place. The urge to communicate about them has become increasingly important as the demands of time have changed. It does not, however, end there. The Indian political landscape has shifted from talking about them to talking for them, resulting in a debate in which Muslim women are both present and missing at the same time. From being auctioned by their family, oppressed by the patriarchal society, and at the same time being denied their Right to Education for the mere reason of professing their religion which the constitution has allowed them the right of by wearing the hijab. It all points to one basic fact that there is an issue that might just be the spark that leads to a political movement for the same. Something is going wrong somewhere with our ideals, society, views, or laws and their implementation. Is it our secularist ideals? Is it a desperate yearning for these women to claim their individuality? Is it possible that Islam phobia has predicted Muslims to be violent and thus the subject of national hate? The problem is not decipherable at first glance, and the problem is much more layered and multi-faceted, but at its core remains the fact that these hijab-wearing women are traditionally “easy targets” even in the safest place like their classrooms and homes.
Wearing the hijab is not prohibited in our nation. The right to free expression, however, is subject to Article 19 (1) (2), which states that “the state may impose reasonable limits in the sake of morality, public order, and decorum.” In the latest happenings in Karnataka, not one but multiple institutions have barred women wearing hijab and from finishing their studies for the simple reason that the hijab violates the institution’s uniform. The essential issue is, why now? How did the hijab come to be associated with uneasiness, and in violation of equality in educational contexts when it was previously acceptable? If one ignores the importance of fundamental rights for a moment, the answer is rather straightforward. It is true that universities have norms that students must follow, but if the hijab is prohibited at these colleges, would they also prohibit the bindi and other types of adornment under the grab of secularism?
Mere libaas par ungli utha kar mujhe nicha dikha rahe hai,
Zamana toh dekho,
Kehte hai mere haq Mei awaz utha rahe hai
According to Pew Research Centre, 70 percent of Hindu women (aged 18-25) wear a bindi in public, 78 percent of Sikhs (aged 18-25) wear the turban, and roughly 87 percent of Muslim women (aged 18-25) wear the burqa (which includes hijab and niqab) outside their homes. This topic cannot be isolated into the confines of black or white. India is a country that since its independence has sought to integrate religions and their values into its framework rather than oppress and dictate over it. Our country shields various ethnic and religious spheres under the same umbrella and finds unity in this diverse culture that makes the country. Our very ideals seek freedom of oneself, one’s individual identity and personality, it condemns dictatorship and oppression of any minority or individual rights. Finally, it should be noted that every person in the socio-political realm has the right to identify oneself, or the right to self-identity. And whether this identity is achieved through the hijab, a turban, a nun’s cap, or any other method, it must be acknowledged, safeguarded, and most importantly respected.
Author’s Name- Ishika Soni (Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Hyderabad)
- https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/right-hijab-article-25-constitution-karnataka-government-hc-7786000/ accessed on 14 March
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Islam WIKIPEDIA accessed on 12 March
- <https://www.ijlmh.com/rights-of-muslim-women-in-india/> accessed on 14 March
- FAMILY LAW BOOKS “MUSLIM PERSONAL LAW”