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Sunday, July 5, 2015
Why has Muslim Personal Law Board failed the Indian Muslims?
Why has Muslim Personal Law Board failed the Indian Muslims?
"When All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) deviated from its chosen path and intruded in other areas, why did it not take up issues of Muslim empowerment through economic development?"
By Dr Jasim Mohammad
Much water has flown down the Ganges since the Sachar Committee Report stamped the backwardness and the deprivation of Indian Muslims. The socio-economic conditions of the community remains the same even now. Current statistic indicates that the Muslims have not only further registered a downfall but, in fact, are a confused lot presently. And unfortunately, the religious as well as political leadership has failed to take up the development of the community or plan anything meaningful for the same.
It is an irony that the psyche of Muslims is just to register their grievances and protest, that too on the emotional issues, real or fictitious. Almost all Muslim social and political organizations have failed to embark on any constructive campaign and centred themselves only around few of the issues such as Babri Masjid, Article 370, Common Civil Code and so on. These organisations have never taken up the cause of employment or economic issues of the Muslims.
I will start with the top most recognised and credible Muslim organisation, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which has its voice among the masses and also in the corridors of power. The AIMPLB was constituted in the wake of threats to the Muslim personal laws in India. It was established to counter any attempt of the government to undermine Shariat and Islamic tenets. And most significantly, the Muslim Law Bard has representation of all Islamic schools of thoughts, people drawn from all maslaks(sects) are its members. This is the only organisation where Muslims or the Ummah is seen united.
But for about a decade, a deterioration of sorts has taken place in the Muslim Law Board. Instead of bothering itself about the legal Islamic tenets and defending Sharia, the AIMPLB has become highly politicized. Many of the Muslim Law Board members have political affiliations openly and it is natural that they carry on their political agenda on the Board's platform.
Then, there is another side to this sorry state of affairs. They command some respect and have some clout in their respective political parties just because they are members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. This trend is a defeat of, rather an attempt to nullify, the aims and objects for which the Board was constituted.
Just analyse the issues that have been taken up by the Board till now. It was most active during the controversy over Shah Bano case. It has taken a stand against communal riots. It has also taken up many non-religious issues including a silent "fatwa" in favour of or against a political party during elections. But it has completely failed to take up the issues of unemployment, education and industrial development of the Muslims. It failed to guide the community to modern commerce and trade and, even kept a deadly silence over the government policies, which may have positive or negative impact on Muslims.
For instance, why did AIMPLB keep silent when the economic policies of the country were changing in the 1990s which killed artisan class from among the Muslims? I am not debating liberalisation and globalization but am most concerned that the AIMPLB failed to point out to the government that a large section of the Muslim community is engaged in cottage and small industry and due to such liberal policies, their craftsmanship has either been killed or is adversary affected.
One may recall that there was a time when Gorakhpur was the hub of handloom and power loom industry. The trade there has completely collapsed. The brass industry of Moradabad, glass and bangle industry of Firozabad, scissors industry of Meerut, wooden industry of Saharanpur and chicken embroidery industry of Lucknow, all have registered a downfall but the Muslim Personal Law Board has failed to come up with an alternative plan to be submitted to the government.
The AIMPLB is keeping its mouth shut over casteism among Indian Muslims. Further it has failed to come out against clashes between followers of different schools of thoughts. Recently, in Bareilly and at some other places, there was a clash between Deobandis and Barelivis but the Board did not intervene.
The harsh reality of the Muslim society in India today is that they are divided horizontally and vertically too. Even the mosques have been separated and it is shocking that on one hand Adan is called from roof top of the mosque and on the other hand, sign boards have been displayed on the walls outside saying that people belonging to such and suchmaslak should not enter for performing namaz. Where does the Board wish to lead Muslims to?
The world is fast changing and for meaningful and dignified survival, economic stability is the first condition. For getting the community educated too, sound financial status is needed. I am at a loss to understand that when the Board deviated from its chosen path and intruded in other areas, why did it not take up issues of Muslim empowerment through economic development?
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is being used – rather misused – by selective people to further their personal ends and to increase their political clout, which is very condemnable. My opinion is that either the Board should mend its ways or the Muslim masses must stand and point out its short coming. The Board should not have any member who is in turn a member of any political party, because the platform of the Board is not a political play-ground.
Muslim organisation must take up economic development of Muslims of India so that they may lead a dignified life and contribute in nation building.
Jasim Mohammad is director, Muslim Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MCCI). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org