Members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) have reacted with anger to what they think is unsolicited advice put forth by Abid Rasool Khan, chairman of the minorities commission of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Many of them have conveyed to Khan over telephone that they do not take kindly to his suggestion that the Board should relook at the practice of the triple talaq. On 17 September, Khan had written to Moulana Syed Mohammed Rafi Hussaini Nadvi, the president of the AIMPLB that unless the Board reconsidered its decision, it could lead to a derecognition of the Islamic personal law.
Khan also wrote a similar letter to the Jamiat-Ulema-I Hind.
"Triple talaq in the manner in which it is practised, is leading to harassment of women. It is quite likely that the practice will come under the scanner and pave the way for the imposition of uniform civil code,'' said Abid Rasool Khan.
The minorities commission of Telugu-speaking states said that the original practise was to spell out the talaq over a period of three months, to give the woman enough time to make alternative arrangements but over a period of time, the practise has been abused and misused. To buttress his argument, Khan cited several instances of how Muslim husbands abused the institution of talaq, leaving the woman to fend for herself.
"In three years that I have been the chairman of the commission, I have received over one hundred complaints of harassment due to triple talaq. The fact that the woman's parents would have scraped the bottom of their savings to give a hefty dowry for her marriage only makes the situation worse,'' says Khan.
What seems to have displeased the members of the Board is the reference Khan has made to the Bombay High Court judgment in the Haji Ali Dargah case. "It is possible that a similar action may be taken in the case of the triple divorce. If that happens, the AIMPLB would have been instrumental in opening the door for the eventual imposition of the Uniform Civil code,'' wrote Khan in his 13-page letter.
The Centre and the AIMPLB are bracing for a showdown with the former expressing its decision to take a tough stance against triple talaq in the Supreme Court. But the Board has maintained that even though the triple talaq is not a well appreciated means of divorce, it was permitted under the Muslim personal law. On 5 September, the court gave the Centre four weeks to respond to petitions from Muslim women in the case.
Khan charges the Ulema of not taking a proactive stand on issues that concern the community, saying this is the time for the Board to advise the priests that they should counsel everyone to do the right thing.
But though some members of the Board have frowned upon his letter, Khan says he has also received messages of support from different quarters and members of the community on the need to purge the system.
"With many husbands going away to other countries to work, the practise of triple talaq through phone, Skype and even Whatsapp. The community needs to stand up to stop this,'' says Khan.