Areas Needing Reform

A survey of 4,710 Muslim women in India, mostly from disadvantaged communities across 10 Indian states, shows that the women want reforms in Muslim Personal Law, especially those laws involving divorce, alimony, polygamy and custody of children. The problem with the Muslim Personal Law is that it is not codified, and thus open to interpretation by clerics. The existence of different Muslim sects and subsects adds to the likelihood of differences in interpretation. The law affects some 140 million people, who form India’s largest religious minority group.

Main Results Of Survey

The survey, “Seeking Justice Within Family: a National Study on Women’s Views on Reforms in Muslim Personal Law”, was conducted by rights group Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), and focused on religious laws perceived as discriminatory against Muslim women. It was conducted between July and December 2013. Questions asked related to marital status, underage marriage, domestic violence, and status of the sharia courts.

92% of the women surveyed wanted a total ban on verbal or unilateral divorce, and 91.7% did not want their husbands to practise polygamy. 96% wanted child maintenance from their ex-husbands.

Need for Codification And Reforms

The report says that “Owing to the way Muslim personal law is practised and understood in India, it is mired in ambiguity, obfuscation and apathy”. Zakia Soman, a co-author of the report says, “Muslim countries such as Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia have also enacted codification. As a result, in Morocco, for instance polygamy and triple talaq are banned”.

The report also points out that the most prominent instance of multiple interpretations is triple talaq. It also reports that “women are denied their Quranic rights such as right to property and inheritance, right to divorce and right to matrimonial home in the name of Sharia”.

Apart from codification, what’s needed are amendments to the law, which currently discriminates between men and women with regard to marriage, divorce, alimony and inheritance, says socio-political analyst A K Mukadam.

Dr Noorjehan Safia Niaz, a co-author of the study describes codification of Muslim personal law in India as “a long-term struggle”. Her view is echoed by advocate and former member of the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu state, Bader Sayeed, who says the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has resisted reforms. She points out that a reform that is badly needed is for all divorces to be decided in a court of law, albeit within the Quran’s parameters. At present men can divorce their wives by saying the triple talaq or sending it through SMS or a letter.

Basis Of Triple Talaq

Is the triple talaq quranic? Muslim schoar Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Ali says it is not. He says that “Even if the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammed) contradicts with the Quran, it should be considered weak and should be neglected”.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board disagrees. One of its members, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, said that the Board rejects the BMMA survey because the sample was small, and that “Religious laws cannot be changed with the passage of time or cannot be changed as per the wishes of few people”.

Think About It

India’s Muslims may form only 14% of the population but their absolute number of 140 million is certainly substantial, so why is India lagging behind so many other countries in codification of the Muslim Personal Law? Will other Indian leaders follow the example of the Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali and speak out against the triple talaq? But how will their views hold against fatwas issued by well-known seminaries that approve of triple talaqs communicated by SMS or by telephone, and even by a person who is inebriated?

Previous posts

India – No Triple Talaq At One Go In Islam
India – Finally, Muslim Women Act To Protest The Dreaded Triple Talaq Divorce
When Is Divorce By Triple Talaq Valid?
New Deoband Fatwa – No Joke, Say “Talaq” Thrice And You Divorce Your Wife
New Deoband Fatwa On Talaq Divorce “Inhuman” Cries Women’s Groups

Prince Of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali 

Divorce via triple talaq is controversial, with many Muslim countries not accepting it.  Such countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  In India, the triple talaq divorce is recognized by Sunni Muslims.  There are many Islamic scholars who voiced opposition to a triple talaq.  Among them, the latest is the Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali.

No To Triple Talaq

Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali claimed recently that there is no triple talaq at one go in Islam.  Calling the procedure for talaq (or talak – Arabic term for divorce) cumbersome, (or talak – Arabic term for divorce), the  Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali said: “It cannot be played around with or taken very lightly either by the married couple or while issuing fatwa by the learned Ulema (learned religious scholars)”.

Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali was adamant that Islam does not recognize the triple talaq.  He said: “There is no triple talaq at one go in Islam.”

Quran To Be Strictly Obeyed

Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali said that should there be any conflict between the Quran and a fatwa, the Quran should prevail.  Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali said: ”Even if the Hadith contradicts with the Quran, it should be considered as weak and should be neglected”

Think About It

So is it just a single talaq, or is a triple talaq required to effect a divorce?  Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali is adamant that there is no triple talaq in Islam.  If this is true, then how did Indian Muslims end up accepting a triple talaq for divorce?

Previous posts

India – Finally, Muslim Women Act To Protest The Dreaded Triple Talaq Divorce
When Is Divorce By Triple Talaq Valid?
New Deoband Fatwa – No Joke, Say “Talaq” Thrice And You Divorce Your Wife
New Deoband Fatwa On Talaq Divorce “Inhuman” Cries Women’s Groups

Malala Yousafzai’s GCSE Results

Malala Yousafzai, the then 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot through the head by a Taliban gunman nearly 3 years ago for being an activist for education  for girls, has hit the headlines again, this time for her good results in the examination for the UK’s General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). This examination replaced the O level examination that used to be taken after 4-5 years of secondary-school education. She scored A* for Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Religious Studies, and A for History, Geography, English Language, and English Literature. In addition, she scored A* for Mathematics in the IGCSE (International GCSE). She had been sent to the UK for specialist treatment after her serious head injury and had stayed on there.

Recognition For Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai has been supported and recognized internationally for her continued stance in promoting education for girls and women’s and children’s rights. In 2013 she was named by Time Magazine as one of The 100 Most Influential People in the World, and among the awards she won was Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize as well as the Sakharov Prize.

In 2014 she was nominated for the World Children’s Prize in Sweden, granted an honorary doctorate by the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and given honorary Canadian citizenship. Of the other awards, the most prestigious was the Nobel Peace Prize, which she shared with Kailash Satyarthi from India for their struggle against suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.

Reception In Pakistan

Malala Yousafzai’s good GCSE results have so far been well received in Pakistan. The Express Tribune newspaper and the Daily Pakistan website both reported that Malala Yousafzai has made Pakistan proud with her GCSE results. However, in the past, especially after she won the Nobel Prize, there were expressions of resentment against her. She has been accused of being a stooge of the west. Some said she should have returned to Pakistan. Others queried why she is singled out for so much attention. And yet others felt that the attention given to her gives the west the impression that the people in Pakistan are all terrorists and women-haters. The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation even held a “I Am Not Malala Day”, with walks, seminars, and press conferences, to condemn her for being used to spread western values in Pakistan.

Think About It

Malala Yousafzai wants to get a good university education, to be able to use it as a weapon in her fight for education of all children. When she gets that weapon, will her country let her use it to help its own people? Or will her people deny their own children the kind of help that Malala Yusafzai would like to give them?

Previous posts

Association Of Pakistani Schools Campaigns Against Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai Becomes Youngest Nobel Laureate
Malala Yousafzai’s Book Launch In Pakistan Is Cancelled
Taliban Death Threat Against Malala Yousafzai As She Advocates Peace Talks
Pakistan – Taliban To Malala Yousafzai: “Come Back Home”
Malala Yousafzai For Nobel Peace Prize?
Taliban’s Attempted Assassination Of Pakistani Schoolgirl Makes Her Heroine Instead

Changing Customs

What do you do with fatwas that were issued by scholars a long time ago (effectively in past eras)?  Not all such fatwas can stand the test of time, especially in a world that has changed so rapidly since the issuance of those fatwas.  And customs also changed in that period.  Well the undersecretary of Al-Azhar Abbas Souman has a solution.  Speaking at Dar al-Iftaa’s international conference recently, Abbas Souman opined that such fatwas of bygone eras should be reconsidered!

Reasons For Reconsidering Past Era Fatwas

Abbas Souman chose the conference (attended by representatives from 50 countries) which had the theme “Fatwa: Current Reality and Future Prospects” to call for a review of these past eras fatwas. Abbas Couman gave the following reasons to support his call:

1.   Those past eras fatwas may be based on customs that have long changed (or perhaps even ceases to exist today).

2.   Fatwas issued by old scholars may not address today’s matters.

3    Such past eras fatwas may have no corollaries in Islamic history.

4.   Past-era scholars who issued old fatwas could have put sectarian and political affiliations into consideration.

5.   Fatwas represent the viewpoint of their issuers rather than scientific grounds and evidence.


Abbas Souman put forth a suggested solution, saying: “Thus, we are in dire need for a collective endeavor in which those proficient in these sciences to sit side by side with Sharia scholars concerned with devising a sharia ruling on the issue in question”.

Think About It

It is not just the fatwas issued in past eras that need reviewing.  Today there are fatwas issued that are downright ridiculous.  At the end of the day, fatwas should be issued only by those scholars who are knowledgeable in the subject matter.  Otherwise Islam will be a laughing stock if its followers issued ridiculous or ignorant fatwas.


Sex Slavery An Integral Part Of ISIS

It’s a year since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) systematically introduced sex slavery. It began when ISIS (also known as the Islamic State [IS]) invaded villages in northern Iraq where the Yazidis lived. ISIS massacred the males, but sent the women off to be used as sex slaves (sabayas). The New York Times has recently reported on how the rape of Yazidi girls and women has become an integral part of ISIS and its theology. The paper has interviewed 21 females who recently escaped from the clutches of ISIS, and has examined the group’s official communications.

Theological Justification For Sex Slavery

A 15-year-old girl, referred to as F, reported how she and 24 others were driven to an army camp, where they were told they were sabayas. They were also told that Taus Malik, one of the seven angels to whom Yazidis pray, is not God but a devil, and since the Yazidis worship the devil, ISIS members were entitled to sell them and use them as they saw fit. Internal memos also gave guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy “how-to” manual by the ISIS research and fatwa department.

ISIS uses selective readings from the Quran and other religious rulings to justify the violence and to celebrate each sexual assault as virtuous. F reported, “Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray”. Another girl, aged 12, also reported that the fighter who raped her would first explain that what he was about to do was not a sin, then prostrated himself in prayer before raping her, and finally prayed again after the rape. He told her that by raping her, he was drawing closer to God.

ISIS Bureaucracy Of Sex Slavery

ISIS has a system of handling all the issues associated with sex slavery – from price lists for the slaves, to sales contracts notarized by extremist-run courts, to warehouses for holding the women, to viewing rooms where the women can be inspected and marketed, and to a fleet of buses for transporting the females.

There is even a system of setting a slave free. A 25-year-old woman told of how her master handed her a Certificate of Emancipation when he had finished his training to be a suicide bomber and was planning to blow himself up. The certificate was signed by an ISIS judge. The woman presented it at security checkpoints in Syria to return to Iraq.

Think About It

What kind of mind is it that can use the Quran to justify the violence and to celebrate each sexual assault as virtuous? And then go on to develop a system for organizing sex slavery. What kind of a mind is it that believes what ISIS has propagated? The organization seems to be attracting recruits from all over the place. Do young Muslims not see how twisted ISIS thinking is?

Previous posts

ISIS Has Price List For Captured Females To Be Sold As Slaves
ISIS Provides Guidelines On Capturing And Treating Female Sex Slaves
Syria – It’s That Sex Jihad Thing Again!
Syria – Fatwa Permits Jihadists To Have Sex With All Non-Sunni Women
“Taking Infidel Women Captive…Permits Whoever Is Holding Them To Have Sexual Intercourse With Them”
Saudi Arabia – Fatwa On “Intercourse Marriage” Issued For Jihadists In Syria?
Tunisia – Teenage Girls Going To Syria In Response To Alleged Fatwa On Sexual Jihad

“Islam Is Based On Faith”

Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria recently gave this advice to the Malaysian Cabinet – avoid logic and intellect when it comes to Islam. Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said that the reason for this is because “Islam is based on faith”

Call To Ministers Not To Issue Statements Based On Logic And Intellect

Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria told the Cabinet that the reason Cabinet Ministers should lay aside logic and intellect when dealing with Islam is because the intellect is influenced by desires and subsequently susceptible to the devil.

Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said: “The intellect is governed by desires and it is influence by shaitan (satan). Don’t be ruled by desires and rudderless comments”.

Deriding And Belittling Islamic Laws

Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria told Cabinet Ministers to guard against issuing statements based on intellect or logic.  Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said: “I advise them not to go overboard. Islam is based on faith… Don’t make any remarks based on the intellect or logic because they are laws of Allah”.

Oath Of Loyalty

Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria delivered a warning to Muslim Cabinet Ministers not to deride and belittle Islamic laws as doing so may breach their oath of loyalty made in the name of Allah. Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said that Muslim Ministers, Deputy Ministers and state executive councillors have all taken their oaths in front of the Agong or a sultan, and sworn with the name of Allah to defend the Constitution.

Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria noted: “The Constitution states that the Islam is the religion of the federation. Therefore, they cannot deride and belittle Allah’s rules. If not, then it means they have breached their oaths”.

Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria’s comment is believed to related to the call by newly minted  Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Azalina Othman for the Film Censorship Board to relax its guidelines against banning intimate physical contact between Muslim male and female actors as they were only acting out their roles.

Think About It

As Islam is the way of life, does the call to set aside intellect and logic mean that Muslims cannot think in their daily life?  Is there such a thing as the gift of logical deduction based on intellect?

Fatwa Against Shaving Beards

In response to a query by two barbers, the Darul Uloom Deoband, a leading Islamic seminary in India, issued a fatwa saying that shaving a beard is not permitted in sharia, and that anyone who assisted a person to do anything that is not permitted in Islam shared the responsibility for the violation. This fatwa put barbers in a quandary. But clean-shaven Muslims have voiced their dissent against the fatwa and have criticized clerics for issuing frivolous decrees instead of focusing on important issues.

Fatwa Criticized As Being Irrelevant And Fuelling Extremism

One criticism was that keeping a beard is not a requirement of Islam, merely a “sunnat”, which is a way of life normative for Muslims based on the teachings and practices of Muhammad and interpretations of the Koran. According to Salim Alware, a community activist, “…not everyone follows it [sunnat] 100%. Some Muslims manage to reach up to following 25%, while some go up to 100%. But not following it does not make a person un-Islamic”. He added that issuing fatwas has become a publicity tool, and that fatwas are merely opinions that need not necessarily be followed.

Also saying that being clean shaven does not make him un-Islamic was Rafik Mulani, who works in the corporate sector. He considers himself pious and offers namaz  (the ritual prayers offered 5 times a day). His father, too, has never kept a beard.

Another critic, Mumbra businessman Arif Kapadia, who says he is an ardent believer of Islam, asked why clerics don’t focus on important issues such as education and employment instead of preaching “irrelevant things”. He thinks that intelligent Muslims simply ignore irrelevant fatwas.

The other concern about the fatwas is that not only do they make the community seem “medieval and parochial”, they reflect a “Talibanized and anti-Muslim mindset”. According to social activist Feroze Mithiborewala, similar decrees fuelled extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and “should be opposed by secular and progressive forces”.

Think About It

How should Muslims treat fatwas? Should they examine fatwas carefully, then ignore them if they are irrelevant and oppose them if they reflect extremism? Should Muslims also put more pressure on their clerics to focus on important issues? Will Muslims who are concerned about the way fatwas are being issued be prepared to step up and encourage their fellow Muslims to think about how to deal with fatwas?

Previous post

Fatwa from India’s Leading Islamic Seminary Says Shaving Is Un-Islamic

Anonymous Fatwa Caused Uproar Among Social Media Users

This fatwa, from an anonymous source, has sparked an uproar in cyberspace, with many people expressing shock and sarcasm.   But is this real or an hoax?  Nobody seems to care about the origin of this ridiculous fatwa, which if true, seems a good candidate to make it to the top 10 most ridiculous fatwas of 2015.

The Fatwa

What can Muslim men do if they are married to ugly wives?  According to this fatwa, such men can take hallucinogenic drugs to delude themselves that their wives are as beautiful as those “beautifully dark-eyed ” women in heaven called Houris (or lovely nymphs). Then they can enjoy having sex with their wives under such delusion.

The fatwa said: “This is the ideal men who are unfortunately married with ugly-looking wives so that they can see them, under the effects of the drugs, as beautiful women, like Houris or lovely nymphs”.

The fatwa went on to say that hallucinogenic drugs can be taken for 30 minutes during sexual intercourse and only by men who are less than 40 years old. The drugs can be used only in the evening”.


Social media users in Saudi Arabia reacted with shock and poured scorn and sarcasm at this fatwa.  Female blogger Suroor said: “This fatwa is utter nonsense. The men who believe their wives are not good looking and need to live an illusion, even if it is for fleeting minutes, can simply switch off the light and use their imagination to think she is a superstar”.

Male blogger Dayem said that the fatwa issuer must be high on drugs when issuing this fatwa.  He added: “This means that we will next have a fatwa that says infidelity and cheating are permissible if they help solve marital problems”.

Another male blogger, Hala, said: “When we talk about an ugly person, we should mean deficiency in moral standards and good manners, and not in good looks. This fatwa is so ridiculous that it should not be dignified with comments”.

Think About It

What is the reason for the issuer of this fatwa to remain anonymous?  Can we take this fatwa seriously when the origin is unknown?  Can it even be a hoax?

Seeking Clarification

Two barbers running a hair salon in Saharanpur, Lucknow, were unsure whether it was Islamic to shave beards, so they sought advice from the Darul Uloom Deoband. And the advice given by a panel of three muftis was that barbers should not shave or trim beards.

The Fatwa On Shaving Of Beards

The three muftis – Faqrul Islam, Waqar Ali, and Zain-ul-Wasmi – declared that shaving a beard is un-Islamic and not permitted in sharia. Their fatwa added that those in the business of trimming beards should try to change job.

Maulana Ashraf Usmani, spokesman for Darul Uloom Deoband, explained that “The fatwa was issued in the light of the sharia and is based on the premise that keeping a clean shave is un-Islamic, and those who assist someone to do anything that is not permitted in Islam, shares the responsibility for the violation”. The seminary has in the past said that shaving a beard, or even not growing one, was unlawful and a major sin.

However, Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, head of a unit that issues fatwas in Lucknow, said, “Shaving a beard is mamnoon (not preferred) but not haram (forbidden) in Islam”.

Action By Barbers

The two barbers who sought advice, Mohammad Irshad and Mohammad Furqan, have stopped shaving or trimming beards, and are limiting their services to hairdressing. However, it has not been easy to convince their clients that shaving is un-Islamic, so they have put up a copy of the fatwa outside their shop.

Other barbers in Lucknow are in a bit of a quandary. They are waiting to get a copy of the fatwa before deciding what to do. One barber, Shadid Siddiqui, said, “As far as we know, it is preferred for people to support a beard, but it is not mandatory”.

Think About It

So, is shaving a beard prohibited, or only “not preferred” in Islam? Does the answer depend on which Islamic authority you ask? Unlike Sikhs, who are known to have to sport a beard and to keep their hair long (although there are now modern Sikhs who are turbanless and beardless), many Muslims are beardless – which shouldn’t be the case if shaving off beards is un-Islamic. What made the two barbers ask about shaving beards? How many barbers in Lucknow will stop shaving beards? And how many Muslim men there will heed the fatwa?

Previous posts

Islamic State Issued No Beard No Head Warning
1 Million Beards Vs 1 Million Bikinis – Which Campaign Will Win?
Egypt – Controversy Over Beards For Police Officers