The Darul Uloom 'fatwa' (which has since been withdrawn by the institution) seeking to restrict the rights of Muslim women contesting elections and announcing that if women are chosen the leaders of any nation or community it will prove disastrous is extremely objectionable and flies in the face of historical evidence. The Indian constitution gives every citizen the right to contest elections, campaign and also to dress as he or she chooses. These rights cannot be infringed upon by any institution and, in fact, should be extended and widened in the interests of democracy.
The fact that many Muslims are taking advantage of reservations for women in the local bodies is extremely welcome and any effort to circumscribe their participation in public affairs in the name of religion is to be opposed. It is also very important that the women contesting organise and conduct their own campaigns so that they can become effective representatives and can also mobilise other women in their support. It is untrue to say that women in politics are cyphers. Fatwas like this only strengthen such misconceptions.
AIDWA is also of the opinion that such fatwas are mostly resorted to against the interests of poor Muslim women. We should not forget that Bhopal was ruled by a succession of Begums who were not only extremely efficient rulers but enjoyed the support of the Muslim clergy. Similarly, Fatima Jinnah was the candidate of the Jamiat-e-Islami in the Pakistan Presidential polls.
Such fatwas have been given in the past and have been treated with the contempt that they deserve. Once in Deoband itself, a Muslim woman contesting for the post of Chairperson was sought to be prevented by a fatwa. AIDWA supported her in her decision to ignore the fatwa and she won the election.
AIDWA appeals to Muslim men and women and the electorate to ignore such anti-women and anti-democratic fatwas, and asserts that it is important for the community at large to come forward and safeguard these democratic rights.
Subhashini Ali, President
Sudha Sundararaman, General Secretary