Don't Write Off Modi's Fight Against Triple Talaq

Published: August 23, 2017 11:01 IST
By invalidating the torturous "Triple Talaq" practice, the Supreme Court of India has come to the rescue of those Muslim women who were tormented due to the atrocious silence of men and a secular polity that ignored their troubles, choosing instead to nurse their vote banks. It's nice to see major political parties now coming out in support of the judgement and it is hoped that the government will not delay a legislation to have this implemented soon. Why not a special session of the parliament to do so just to emphasise the significance of it?

The judgement has also proved that  justice finally arrives even if one has to wait for centuries. Every one saw the plight of Muslim women - left in pain for their entire lives by "chivalrous" men who quoted the Quran to keep their womenfolk in fear of a dreaded word uttered thrice in succession. Their silence was in the name of a fake "respect" for a religion that never prescribed triple talaq. All those men, leaders and writers  are guilty of treating women contemptuously to keep feudal control over them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted this inhumane practice to go, lock, stock and barrel in the interest of a society with equal opportunities. His address in April at the BJP national executive in Bhubaneshwar was memorable and clear on this. The BJP passed a resolution there reaffirming his commitment towards building a "society of equal opportunities" where nobody would be treated as inferior. "Justice needs to be delivered to every citizen without any bias or prejudice," it read.

On triple talaq, Modi told BJP leaders: "Sangharsh nahin, samjha kar samajik parivartan lana hai (We have to bring social change through dialogue, not conflict)." Modi asked workers to stand by Muslim women who want to fight the practice of triple talaq, saying dignity is guaranteed to all under the constitution.

It's the impact of Modi's honesty and sincerity that emboldened Muslim women to come out openly in an unprecedented united manner against the practice of triple talaq and they voted for him heartily, as many reports suggested. Defying the most orthodox Mullahs and their blind supporters amongst the so-called secular sections, Muslim women braved clergy with medieval-era thinking and the Muslim Law Board to demand change. It was amazing to see many Hindu secular writers and anti-Modi media-sirens standing against these women, calling the abolition of triple talaq an interference of the judiciary in religious matters of Muslims, who are already being portrayed as "unsafe" in India. Muslims must come out of the fear boxes created by the political shamanism of the Akhilesh Yadavs, Azam Khans and Owaisis, and assert their modern, futuristic identity as enlightened, empowered citizens. There are such voices amongst the Muslims like former Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi, but do they get the space to influence others or spread their courageous stand? Will it  be too much to expect that the government ensure them a proper platform?

Reform is a state of a progressive mind; religious practices are supposed to be means to achieve higher spiritual goals. Hindus have survived valiantly the vicissitudes of foreign invasions, massacres, loots and the destruction of their centres of faith because they always embraced change. From Raja Rammohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda, Sahuji Maharaj, to Mahatma Gandhi, Dr BR Ambedkar, Savarkar, Dr KB Hedgewar and many other stalwarts worked relentlessly against the ill practices of the Hindus crept into their society due to various reasons. The Hindu Code bill was one of the most talked-about and transforming laws brought after independence. None said  it would put Hindu Dharma in danger and such reforms would be considered an interference into their dharmic domain. It's the ability to change while keeping the quintessential features of the Dharma intact that has empowered Hindus to emerge as a progressive, liberal, free society. The fight amongst Hindus for equality and reforms is still going on.

On the other hand, Muslims in India never nourished a leadership that spoke for reforms. In April 1966, a young and energetic Muslim reformer, Hamid Dalwai, took a procession to Mantralaya in Mumbai with seven Muslim women who were victims of triple talaq, demanding an end to it and condemning the Mullahs and Ulemas who wanted it to remain in vogue. He died unsung and Muslims never accepted him as their leader. 

In fact, the entire Muslim leadership in India has remained fossilised in a centuries-old cocoon when the laws of Muslim behaviour were being framed by the Arabs and as suited to their contemporary circumstances. Islam, as they say, is a faith that stands for peace. Then it must be a faith that brings a soothing effect to its practitioners and is devoid of the Arab colonial influence. To be a faithful follower of Islam, you don't have to be a faithful practitioner of all that Arabs do.

For example, the burqa and the azan on loudspeakers. Can they also be considered an essential part of the Islamic faith? Islam in the Indian sub-continent is different in its contours than Islam elsewhere: dargahs, music, qawwalis, chadars, mannat, and all that essentially make it different from the adherents of the faith in other parts of the world.

The India that gave the message of pluralism and a harmonious living, respect for unity in diversity, where Sufism flowered and musicians and art showcase an incredible blend of Hindu and Muslim togetherness, has once again taken the lead in reforming a society and underlining the irrelevance of outdated clergy.

It is the Arab Wahabi influence that is causing the radicalisation, creating gulfs and keeping people in awe of Ulemas and Mullahs as if pushing them into a frozen time of Arab tribalism. The worst sufferers are women and children. The recent trends in the growing spread of Wahabism shows that one has to be essentially anti-women and ruthless about children to be a leader. See the ISIS. Nothing more demonstrates this than its barbarism.

It is shocking that in this time and age, there are two highly-educated judges who thought that triple talaq must continue in India. What a pity. 

The Supreme Court's majority judgement gives hope to the millions of Muslim women, nay, to the women of all faiths and colour who believe in saner, decent human societal values. The march must continue.

(Tarun Vijay is a BJP leader and former MP from Uttarakhand.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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