Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan is happy to announce the formation of Darul Uloom Niswaan [DUN], a centre for Islamic learning and theology. As part of the initiative, DUN has begun the training of women qazis. The initiative began in Jaipur with a group of 30 Muslim women who have embarked on the journey to become qazis. The training programme in Jaipur is the first in the series of a year long training which will include learnings on theology, history of Islam, Constitution of India, principles and values of Islam, schools of jurisprudence etc. Further training modules through the year will focus on many other important topics like gender equality in Islam, family laws on other countries etc.
The need to set up the DUN has been felt as a qazi plays an important role in society. They not only solemnise marriages they also validate divorce. BMMA has observed in its last ten years of work across different states that owing to ignorance about Quranic injunctions there is widespread practice of triple talaq and halala in spite of there being no Quranic sanction. The qazi’s role becomes important in order to put a halt to triple talaq and halala. Our experience suggests that majority of qazis validate unilateral triple divorce which is in violation of Quranic injunctions. Some qazis play a dubious role in furthering barbaric practices such as halala. Our two research reports bear out testimony to how muslim women suffer owing to these unIslamic practices. We feel that more and more women qazis who are trained about Islamic teachings and gender justice principles are the need of the hour. Besides, there is no bar on women qazis as per the Quran. It was felt by thousands of women that women qazis can provide a solution to these ills which afflict our society.
A lot of legal problems faced by Muslim women today can be prevented if the Qazi plays his/ her role with responsibility. Womens Qazi trained by DUN will ensure that underage marriages do not take place, that man is not able to undertake second marriage in the subsistence of the first, that the residence proof of man and his source of income is ascertained before he enters into a marriage contract. Women qazis will ensure that the mehr amount is received by the bride at the time of nikaah and that both the parties are entering into the marriage alliance out of their free will and not by force or fraud. These preventive measures which even a male qazi can take are not being taken which results in a lot of hardship for the women. Male qazis approve of oral divorce and in fact encourage the Muslim men to unilaterally divorce his wife. They also approve of muta marriages where young girls are duped into entering temporary marriages. This malaise which has rendered so many muslim women homeless and destitute will be curbed if women who are trained in Islamic values of gender equality and gender justice become qazis. The idea of DUN was born following this.
By the end of 2016 through the DUN we hope to have close to 30 women passing out as qazis and annually thereafter. 30 women from across different states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, MP, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha have so far undertaken two modules of three-day each. They have been given basic grounding in Quranic injunctions pertaining to marriage and family, personal laws in muslim countries, Constitution of India, basics of Indian and global jurisprudence pertaining to gender justice and equality etc. Apart from this they have been trained in preparing elaborate nikahnama, conducting a nikah and divorce procedures as per the talaq-e-ahsan method found in the Quran. This initiative is part of the larger feminist movement in the Islamic world initiated by women activists and scholars who have taken upon themselves the task of presenting to the world a humane, just and peaceful face of Islam which today has been usurped by the conservative and dogmatic religious bodies who do not believe in gender equality and human rights.
Noorjehan Safia Niaz & Zakia Soman
& Trustees, DUN