India: AIMPLB backs Deoband's anti-women fatwa

Muslim panel too rules lifelong separation for rape victim.
An already battered Imrana, who was raped by her father-in-law, is in for a bigger shock with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) endorsing the "punishment" awarded to her by the Deoband school of Islamic thought.
The board was of the view that she would have to separate for life from her husband, who would be responsible for bringing up their five children.

"The fact that Imrana was raped by her father-in-law completely bars her reunion with her husband. There is no way she can be allowed to again live with her husband," ruled AIMPLB's sole women member Naseem Ikhtidar.

According to Ikhtidar: "The Deoband school has rightly said that the husband-wife relationship between Imrana and her husband automatically ceased no sooner than she was raped by her father-in-law. Under the Shariat, she becomes the mother of her husband."

Maulana Khalid Rasheed, Imam of Lucknow-based Firangi Mahal, a renowned Islamic institution dealing with personal law matters, endorsed Ikhtidar's views.

"The decision of the Deoband maulanas was strictly in accordance with the tenets of Islam so there was little that anyone can do about it," Rasheed maintained.

However, they were at loss to explain why the guilty father-in-law Mohammad Ali was not being dealt with in accordance with the Shariat, which clearly lays down that a rapist should be stoned to death.

"Mohammad Ali had already been arrested by the police under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code so how can we interfere?" asked Ikhtidar.

"Since he is to be tried under the criminal law of the land, we do not come into the picture," said Rasheed.

Taking serious note of the issue, the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) as well as the newly-formed All India Muslim Women's Law Board have flayed both the Deoband seminary and the AIMPLB.

AIDWA president Subhashini Ali, the firebrand former Communist Party if India-Marxist MP, is all set to lead a demonstration to Imrana's home in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh on June 30 to protest the ruling of the clerics.

"The decision of the maulanas was highly questionable. Such an attitude is bound to dissuade women from raising their voice against such exploitation and violence in future because they would be scared of being ostracized," said Ali.

"By the same logic, if a child is raped by her grandfather, would be declared a grandmother?" she asked.

Said Muslim women's board chief Shaista Ambar: "The ruling speaks volumes of the discrimination of the maulanas. It further establishes what we have been contending - that the male-dominated AIMPLB was not the appropriate forum to decide matters dealing with personal law issues and that is why we had to set up an independent body for Muslim women."

Originally published on 29 June 2005.