Auraton ki Shariah Adalat- Womens’ Shariat Courts set up by BMMA


Auraton ki Shariah Adalat Womens’ Shariat Court
Muslim women in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Dindigul in Tamilnadu have started legal aid for muslim women in need in the form of Womens’ Shariat Courts. Charting new territories which have so far remained a male prerogative, muslim women gathered in Ahmedabad from the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamilnadu made an announcement about Womens’ Shariat Courts that would run as per the injunctions of the Quran and dispense speedy justice to  women in matters such as divorce, polygamy, maintenance, custody of children, property rights etc.This is the first phase of this initiative, similar Womens’ Shariat Courts will be set up in West Bengal, Orissa, UP, MP, Bihar, Karnataka, Jharkhand in the next six months.
The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has been receiving grievances from Muslim women in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Orissa, West Bengal, Tamilnadu, MP, UP, Bihar, Karnataka and Jharkhand about unilateral divorce and total refusal by husbands to given any maintenance or support. The practice of unilateral divorce has been sent through post card, sms, letter through relatives or just communication on phone. All these go against the tenets of the Quran where there is a well-laid out time-bound process for divorce. The need to address such complaints has been felt by thousands of women in different parts of the country.
In the absence of a codified Muslim personal law, these matters are so far dealt by Qazis, muftis and maulvis making it an exclusive male domain often to the detriment and disservice of women.  The legal aid provider women will base their verdicts on the Quranic injunctions and they are also aware of the various strategies to be deployed so that a harassed Muslim woman gets legal redressal. The decisions of the women’s court are going to be based on the rights of women enshrined in the Quran and will try to curb practices such as triple talaq, polygamy, non-payment of maintenance etc. At present the facility is being opened in these three states. In the second phase similar courts will be set up in all states to enable all Muslim women to get justice. There will be a national bench comprising eminent scholars and activists who will give opinion on complex matters of Muslim personal law to safeguard the interests of women and children.
The Muslim women gathered here believe that women are equally well equipped to administer justice and legal aid. This was the need of the hour as women are the victims of a discriminatory law based on misinformation about Shariat and Quranic tenets. Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder said that, it is high time women took matters in their own hands to put an end to the injustices suffered for centuries. She felt that male-dominated and anti-women misinterpretations of the Islamic Shariat have always kept women at the margins and without justice in the matters of talaq and maintenance. She said, the time has come for muslim women to obtain justice as promised by the Quran and the religion. Zakia Soman, another co-founder stressed upon the need for a Quran-compliant codified muslim personal law to be brought about by the Parliament. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan was petitioning members of parliament and the government to bring about such a law to safeguard the constitutional rights as well as the Quranic rights of women, she said.
The Auraton ki Shariah Adalat will administer free, fair and speedy justice in the matter of marital and family discord based on Quranic principles. They will also make available the translations of the various verses of the Quran safeguarding the rights of women to the general public. 
Following are some of the guidelines that the Auraton ki Shariah Adalat will follow:
  • ·        Take recourse to all secular laws like the Anti-Dowry Act, Prevention of Domestic Violence Act etc
  • ·        The women volunteers will utilize the existing legal machinery like the courts/qazis etc to help women get legal aid. 
  • ·         They will also engage with the justice implementation machinery like the police. 

They will be guided by the following quranic injunctions:
  • ·         Triple oral/unilateral divorce is not acceptable
  • ·         Whoever initiates the divorce will have to go through the process of talak-e-ahsan method of divorce outlined in the Quran
  • ·         Women must get maintenance during their marital life
  • ·         She must also get maintenance during the period of iddat
  • ·         It is the responsibility of the husband to provide post-divorce maintenance as per the 1986 Act
  • ·         All grounds of divorce mentioned in the 1939 Sharia Act are applicable to the women visiting the Auraton ki Shariah Adalat
  • ·         Halala is not acceptable and should be a punishable offence for the husband
  • ·         No other restriction except remarriage during iddat
  • ·         If the children are small the custody of the children will be with the mother, after the age of 7 whether boy or girl, the child will be given the right to decide 

Working on guidelines of the Women’s Shariah Court 

Member of the BMMA-Women’s Shariah Court, A. Jeibunnisa addressing the press in Ahmedabad 

Members of the Women’s Shariah Court in discussion

Members of the Women’s Shariat Court, BMMA

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