Model Nikahnama fails to evoke enthusiastic response

Model Nikahnama fails to evoke enthusiastic response
New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) Unveiled recently by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the model Nikahnama has failed to evoke a very enthusiastic response from women's activists, who say it falls short of the promise to give equal rights to women, even as it has received a mixed reaction from Muslim organisations all over the country.

The All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) has outrightly rejected it and announced its plans to formulate a separate Nikahnama.

"The model Nikahnama is just a formality and does not safeguard the interests of women and it is not acceptable to us," said AIMWPLB President Shaista Amber.

She charged that the AIMPLB has formulated the Nikahnama without taking the women into confidence. "Though there are women members on the Board, they do not adequately represent the common women of the country who are subjected to immense hardships due to the misinterpretation of the Shariat," Amber said.

While the National Commission for Women (NCW) has so far refused to comment on the Nikahnama, saying it was currently studying it, the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) has said it fails to satisfy the democratic demand for banning of triple talaq.

After studying the Nikahnama, the Secretariat of AIDWA said, "It (Nikahnama) has recommended that after the first talaq, a minimum time period of three months is required before the second talaq... While this falls far short of the democratic demand for the banning of triple talaq, it is a small step forward.

It has also termed as "extremely unfortunate" that the Board has not made an outright ban on polygamy. Meanwhile, Muslim intelligentia and organisations have given a mixed response to the Nikahnama, with Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari saying the need of the hour was to create awareness among the people, which cannot be fulfilled by drafting a model Nikahnama.

"There is no need for a Nikahnama. What is needed is creating awareness among the people," Bukhari said.

"What is given in the Nikahnama is all there in the Quran. It does not permit triple talaq at one go, but that is already forbidden by the Quran. Instead of formulating the Nikahnama, they should go among the people and create awareness among them. With the literacy levels so low, how many people are going to read the Nikahnama anyway," he said.

The 133-year-old Jamia Nizamia of Hyderabad is also of the view that there was no need for drafting a model Nikahnama, albeit for a different reason.

"There is no need for a new Nikahnama as the present Nikahnama used in Hyderabad is more comprehensive and widely acceptable," said Mufti Khaleel Ahmed, Rector of the Jamia Nizamia.

A Nikahnama known as `Siyahnama' has been in used in Hyderabad and other parts of Andhra Pradesh for over 200 years.

Ahmed said different sects of Islam follow different sets of Shariat laws, hence a uniform Nikahnama would not be acceptable to all the sects.

Dr Syed Hameeduddin Sharfi, Director of the Andhra Pradesh-based Islamic History and Research Centre, has the complaint that the media and people of the country have misunderstood the model Nikahnama as a new set of Shariat laws. "This is wrong. The model Nikahnama has only incorporated a set of advices to Muslim couples in accordance with the Shariat laws," he said.

In Kerala, while some Mujahid sections consider the model Nikahmana as a progressive step, another group holds the view that triple talaq is invalid.

According to General Secretary of the Madavoor faction of the Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen, triple talaq was unislamic and should be discouraged, while a major Sunni outfit in the state, Samastha Kerala Jam Iyyathul Ulama says it is not unislamic, but it should only be the last resort.

On the other hand, the AIMPLB says the Nikahnama is an earnest effort to check the exploitation of Muslim women.

"Those opposing it have the right to have a certain viewpoint. But they should have faith in the knowledge and understanding of the Ulemas and experts who have worked relentlessly over it for years," said Board member Maulana Sajjad Nomani.

On the complaint that women had been ignored while preparing the Nikahnama, he said women members on the Board have a vast knowledge in the matter and have been part of the debate and discussion that went into the drafting of the Nikahnama.


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