Uniform Civil Code -choosing between devil and deep blue sea.

The last post on Muslim Divorce laws have evoked lot of discussion of Uniform Civil Code..I haven’t done much reading on this,so I am yet to form my own opinion.Enacting UCC is easier said than done,but I have no idea how it is practical in a country of excessive plurality of religions.I think gender-equal and secualr concepts emulated into personal laws will be more acceptable and more fesible in our current state of nation-atleast,it may serve as a first step towards reform.Otherwise,we and our coming generation will die ranting UCC and nothing is going to happen.

While I do my reading,I would like to share an article that echo my current thoughts.

Why I Support The Uniform Civil Code

Author: Tariq Ansari

Publication: Outlook

Date: July 29, 2003

URL: http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20030729&fname=ucc&sid=1

The Supreme Court has once again set the cat amongst the pigeons on the matter of a Common Civil Code. Gloating and breast beating has commenced on all sides of the politico-social spectrum. As an Indian Muslim I would like very much to be heard….

 

The Supreme Court has once again set the cat amongst the pigeons on the matter of a Common Civil Code. Gloating and breast beating has commenced on all sides of the politico- social spectrum. As an Indian Muslim I would like very much to be heard.

 

Let’s get some ridiculous myths out of the way first:

 

Myth 1: All Muslims are opposed to a Common Civil Code.

 

Clearly, this is not the case. I am one who is not, as are many others.

 

Myth 2: The Muslim Personal Law gives Muslims some great benefits that are being withheld from non-Muslims.

 

Nothing can be further from the truth. The personal law only gives Muslims the right to be governed by Shariah principles in the personal matters of marriage, inheritance, property rights and religious observance. Commercial and criminal law is the same for all Indians.

 

So why do I support a common law for all Indians in civil matters? For four very good reasons.

 

First, there are at least six schools of jurisprudence among Muslims, four among Sunnis and two among Shias. The Indian Muslim Personal Law is a curious amalgam of principles from different schools, but most particularly the Hanafi branch of Sunni legal belief.

 

While most Indian Muslims are from this sect, our so-called Muslim Personal Law does not cover large numbers of Muslims, who prefer their own interpretation of Shariah law. Therefore, this is hardly in conformity with pure Koranic practice, as the more extreme elements among the Muslim clergy would have us believe.

 

Second, I believe the most important demand that Muslims should make in secular India is that we are treated equally. That we have equal rights and opportunities as all other Indians and that the State will afford us the same protection of our rights and property as it would Hindus. I do not believe Muslims can make that demand when at the same time we want to be treated differently in matters of personal law. This is an irreconcilable inconsistency.

 

Third, at least half of all Muslims are badly served by the Muslim Personal Law. Triple talaq, no rights to maintenance (thank you, Rajiv Gandhi!) and subordinate rights of inheritance are all examples of how my Muslim sisters labour under an unfair and, dare I say it, unIslamic set of regulations. I have a daughter and if she should want to marry a Muslim it will be under the Special Marriages Act, thank you very much.

 

And lastly, this ridiculous Muslim Personal Law is a convenient stick for Hindu communalists to beat Muslims with. Giving us the right to be governed by our own personal law gives them the right to claim that we are some kind of privileged minority with a suspect commitment to the Indian Republic. Take away the law and deprive Pravin Togadia of the stick.

 

However, I would also like to raise two very specific and critical qualifications to my support of the Supreme Court mention. We cannot move towards a Common Civil Code without absolute clarity on these matters:

 

One, understand and do something about the fundamental reasons why Indian Muslims cling to their own Personal Law. Deep within the psyche of the Mussalman is a fear of disenfranchisement, of complete loss of identity and marginalisation within Indian society.

 

Two, every time you burn homes in Gujarat, every time you treat Urdu as an alien tongue, every time a Muslim boy loses a job opportunity thanks to discrimination and every time Mr Togadia hints darkly at ‘the enemy within,’ you compound the siege mentality.

 

When everything is taken away, goes the ghetto belief, let us cling tightly to what we are. The Muslim Personal Law, sadly, has become one of the symbols of identity, an identity under threat.

 

A Common Civil Code must imply that ALL citizens are covered under the same laws on civil and commercial matters.

 

Let us dismantle at the same time, special privileges under the Hindu Undivided Family provisions as also any special laws governing the personal affairs of Christians, Parsis, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs as well as other groups like the Nairs of Kerala who follow the principles of matrilineal descent.

 

Do away not only with Muslim Personal Law but also other laws on the statute books that grant legal sanctity to unique practices of the diverse communities of India.

 

As an Indian Muslim I wholeheartedly support the idea of a Common Civil Code. It is a fair and equitable Directive Principle of the Constitution of India. Let us, however, understand this matter in its entirety, away from the hysterical jubilation and frantic wailing of communalists on both sides.

 

One people. One law.

 

Yes, for sure!

 

Tariq Ansari is Managing Director, Mid Day Multimedia,

Mumbai

Yes,Uniform Civil Code may require muslims to give away their religious rulings and idendity,but what else can do done in a nation where Personal Law Board members are not ready make any reform even after 60+ years.. (oh,I forgot to give them due credit.They are smart enough to reform Sharia so that men can divorce vis SMS,phone and email..Apart from these sexist reform,I haven’t heard of nay reform that would benefit women who are still at mercy of men )If muslims are bothered about giving away the freedom of religion,they better reform their gender-biased laws,or else may shut up and do as the state enacts Article 44 of Indian Constitution ( Article 44 provides that the State shall endeavor to secure for all citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.)

Advertisements
  1. Interesting post Nimmy and a great link..will come back and read it in detail:)]

    —————————–

    🙂 -Nimmy

  2. I did not read the earlier post on muslim divorce laws, but this common civil code seems to be the right direction. But it should be quite complex to implement as there are so many religions and sub-sects.

    Destination Infinity

    ———————————

    True DI ..We have infinite catses and sub castes and trillion religious customs..Tieing them all to a single rope would seem impossible and thatz why told that reforms based on gender equality and secular norms will be more progressive and more practical.. -Nimmy

  3. Good link…I know the UCC sounds easier to implement than it is because it will include not only Hindus and Muslims but other religious minorities as well…

    ————————————


    Yes Bones,it is easier said than done..Then again,its not impossible eaither..Just that law makers have to show that solid will and proper management to clean the mess.. The qstn is ‘Who will bell the cat’.. BJP just keep ranting,they never will do this..Congress will never ever do this..Third front??hhmmmm 🙂 -Nimmy

    • Nancy
    • March 17th, 2009

    ummm its all going over my head…Civics always was a weak point with me or is this Sociology:-o?????

    This is just to let u knw I’ve been here;-D

    ——————————-


    🙂 I don’t know to which category does this belong to..Maybe Civics….Good day -Nimmy

  4. Brilliant Nimmy! Absolutely awesome!!!!!!!!!!

    The reason why I did not say much in your last post was that I had an idea of what Praveen Togadia (etc) says, but wasn’t sure of exactly what the details were. This is brilliantly said. A good thing can be thrown like a punishment on your face and might look bad. I think a uniform civil code is great for women – no matter what the religion. This is a really well written article.

    I always feel it is best if changes come from within, because then there is no resentment. Women must raise their voices, and keep in mind that they too have voting rights, and political parties must not be allowed to forget this. They need to stop thinking of personal laws as concerning only the men.

    I also agree – completely – that Hindu undivided family laws also need to be made unbiased.

    ————————————————-

    //I always feel it is best if changes come from within, because then there is no resentment

    So tru IHM ..I hope to spread this word and make more people aware.. -Nimmy

  5. “A Common Civil Code must imply that ALL citizens are covered under the same laws on civil and commercial matters.”

    And that is what one needs to unite the citizens of a country. We can’t divide the country on the basis of reservations and religious personal laws and then expect everyone to feel equal. UCC is difficult to impose but what is difficult is actually some political parties oppose it fearing the wrath of their voters.

    I have long supported UCC would continue to support it.

    —————————-
    I agree Solilo..Extremists form a minority,so i guess its easy to bye pass them. Will of people from within the community to reform supported by lawful acts by politicians will help -Nimmy

  6. Let Muslims have an option of marrying under UCC. Even if 10% opt of Muslims for it in 10 years time, that is a great success. Evolutionary change lasts longer than revolutionary. Bans and enforcement fail more often than not.

    ———————————-

    Yeah,I agree with you..Imposing it may create negative perception .Infact,it is seen that banning something will only lead to increase in underground movement… Today,the dynamics is totally different than 5 years ago (atleast thatz how i feel it) and maybe more and more peopel will opt UCC than it had been before..-nimmy

  7. Another great post Nimmy . The irony of the situation is that Nimmy a liberal progressive Muslim that too a woman is learning abt UCC and coming to a conclusion that it should be supported only now, while I heard abt it first when I was 12 when my school mate friend who visits ‘RSS shakha’ whispered to me how unfair it is that due to lack UCC Muslims can marry any no. of times while Hindus cannot.

    ———————————-

    ha ha 🙂 -Nimmy

  8. At the cost of repetition – I am for UCC.
    I have read every person while discussing for or against UCC mention the difficulty of implementing it. And my bone of contention is exactly that – difficulty of implementing UCC should not be the objection raised against it.
    Keep them coming.
    Cheers,
    Sal

    • Charakan
    • March 18th, 2009

    Difficulty is in convincing a majority of Muslims that radical reforms in personal law is in their interest. May be first stage new code can be made voluntary Implementing it without a consensus among muslims is undemocratic. Political parties can help the process by fielding more liberal pro reform muslim leaders in elections and we all who are concerned abt muslim womens plight should elect them to power.
    Already the spl marriage act is there that can be used by muslims.

    • Milind Kher
    • March 18th, 2009

    For a pluralistic society, a Uniform Civil Code is the best way to go. If all people are to be treated equally, they have to be governed by a similar law.

    Even in a Muslim country, whose Islam? There are so many schools of law. And who is to interpret it?

    I believe that Muslims should follow Islam as a religion and let legislation be secular.

  9. A bit late here 🙂
    I agree with some of the points mentioned here by others..
    Specially what Salil says ”that difficulty of implementing UCC should not be the objection raised against it.”

    UCC is direly needed so that detractors dont have this stick to beat the religion with..
    BUt most importantly WOMEN NEED IT..more than any other group..

    • manoj
    • March 19th, 2009

    i had a glance on the blog today after a long gap.
    shariah is something interpreted from different texts. i dont think it is from God/Allah.
    inheritance,divorce, widows generated from war, slave women: rights of these women are described in quaran. thus uniform civil code is something muslims will obviously object to.

    i repeat, let muslims of kerala start from consent seeking from the bride.

    • manoj
    • March 19th, 2009

    i had a glance on the blog today after a long gap.
    shariah is something interpreted from different texts. i dont think it is from God/Allah.
    inheritance,divorce, widows generated from war, slave women: rights of these women are described in quaran. thus uniform civil code is something muslims will obviously object to.

    i repeat, let muslims of kerala start from consent seeking from the bride for marriage.

  10. Nimmy, I am so glad you are raising these issues. I do hope that young Muslim men and women of India discuss these prickly problems openly, without fear or prejudice.

    While I agree with the concept of UCC, I agree with you that organic changes — that come from within the community — are the most sustainable. For UCC to become a reality, all provisions of the law need to be discussed publicly and threadbare.

    Re Mr. Ansari, while I understand his fundamental reasons for why he thinks Muslims tend to cling to personal laws, we also need to bear in mind that no many Indians condone the Gujarat riots or the likes of Ram Sene and Tagodia. We badly need to marginalize these people.
    Ultimately, in civil matters, we need to make the State religion-blind, gender-blind and caste-blind.

    But my feeling is this will take time. And discussion. And a lot of education.

    • sshama
    • March 24th, 2009

    I hope Mr. Tariq Ansari indirectly doesnt claim to rebuke the shariah scholars like Hazrt Hanaf , Hazrat Shaafi etc. And I dont even find any good reason to agree with Mr. Tariq Ansari, a Mid day multimedia managing director in his attempt to opine on religious issues. Or does he think his randomly and carelessly written article can question the exhaustive, disciplined and systematic research done by great Islamic scholars based on Quran and Hadiths?? Its high time people are undermining and underestimating the essense and insight of extremely intelligent works of Islamic scholars and no wonder the extent of carelessness towards religion has increased to so much that even educated muslims are hurriedly throwing up amateurish articles and trying to ridicule the sincere works and efforts of Islamic scholars of past. Why muslims need to compromise with their faith everytime to prove their sincerety towards country??? This is all hypocrisy and double standards played by politicans for votebank politics and to engage some fools to scratch their brains for any type of ‘sleep blabbering’ committed by them. Let every Indian follow his religion and let us not force anyone from practicing his beliefs, and this is what is the true concept of ‘Equality’ in a pluralistic society like India.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: