Calling the Law Commission of India's questionnaire on the uniform civil code 'unacceptable' the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) accused the commission of acting like a government agent.
Maulana Wali Rehman of the AIMPLB also said on Thursday, after a press conference, that the Muslims would boycott the questionnaire.
The commission set the cat among the pigeons by sending out the 16 questions, including one which asks if the practice of triple talaq should be done away with, on 7 October.
Another question specifically asks if the uniform civil code be 'optional', raising the hackles of AIMPLB which saw the move as an infringement upon the rights of Muslims.
In Lucknow, Maulana Khalid Rasheed, the Imam of Eidgah and AIMPLB member, said the board has started a signature campaign from Thursday to counter the law panel's move.
He said with Ram Mandir and other issues having failed, this is a dangerous move to polarise the society just before assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. It was also a tactic to divert people's attentions from other pressing issues like price rise and unemployment.
Muslims equally participated in India’s freedom struggle, but their participation is always underestimated: Muslim Personal Law Board pic.twitter.com/XINP1Obfwf— ANI (@ANI_news) October 13, 2016
With Muslims no mood to concede ground, the move on codifying the civil laws pertaining to women could prove to be a game-changer for the Bharatiya Janata Party in UP.
The proforma being distributed in Lucknow for women's opinion has three points:
"We, the signatories, do hereby affirm and declare as follows:
1. We are fully satisfied with the commands of Islamic laws, especially on Islamic orders related to Nikah, Talaq (divorce), Khula (woman's right to seek a divorce), Faskh (dissolution) and Wiraasat (heritage). We are fully satisfied with and strongly deny the possibility of any type of change in them.
2. The Constitution of India has provided complete freedom for followers of all faiths to practice their religion. We, therefore, do not accept common civil code in any form.
3. We are with Muslim Personal Law Board to save and protect Shariat Laws."
The proforma will have the name of the signatory, name of her father/husband and her address.
These forms will also be distributed at mosques after the Friday prayers and the issue will find mention in the khutba at the end of the prayers, Maulana Rasheed said.
Asked if the board will limit its opposition to the Law Commission's move to boycott, Maulana Rehmani said in Delhi, "aage, aage, dekhiye hota hai kya" (wait for events to unfold).
Maulana Rasheed said that something big was being planned and "a decision will be taken at the AIMPLB conference in Kolkata in November".
Although in its 'appeal' the Law Commission "hopes to begin a healthy conversation about the viability of uniform civil code and will focus on family laws of all religions", the Muslims are particularly incensed at the move to end country's diversity and paint everyone with the same brush.
The Muslims are divided on the issue on sectarian lines with the Shias particularly being opposed to the triple talaq. "The practice does not exist among Shias," said a descendant of a Shia nawab on condition of anonymity "to avoid trouble from maulanas".
Shaista Ambar, the chairperson of Muslim Women's Personal Law Board, denied that only Shia women were raising their voices for their rights as Shias, Sunnis, Barelvis, Wahabis all have the same Holy Quran.
"Everyday, women from all sects come to me seeking to solve their problems pertaining to the triple talaq, khula, maintenance and other marital issues," Ambar said. She insisted that the triple talaq was illegal.
On the law panel's move for a uniform civil code, Ambar said that she was also a petitioner in the Supreme Court demanding an end to the triple talaq, polygamy and rights for women under khula.
Even as the Muslim Personal Law Board described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "dictator" a bunch of petitions filed by Muslim women against the "abhorrent" practice of triple talaq lies pending before the Supreme Court.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen