The deliberations on Muslim Personal Law initiated by Justicia, the association of lawyers, saw enthusiastic participation at a function organized at Calicut. The discussions were held in three different phases, under various titles like ‘Marriage in Islam’, ‘Divorce in Islam’ and ‘Islam and Mohammedan Law’.
Though Justicia was entering a domain that Muslims have not taken seriously enough in the past, the initiative received unstinting support from nearly all Muslim outfits in Kerala The lawyers and the scholars at the function unanimously felt that it was high time people stopped groping in the dark about Muslim Personal Law and formulated a codified system of law that incorporates the spirit and essence of the Islamic Shari’h.
The first phase of the discussions was inaugurated by the former High Court Judge and Chairman of the Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission Justice Abdul Gafoor, while the second and third phases were inaugurated by the sitting judges of the Kerala High Court Justice Haroon Al Rasheed and Justice C K Abdul Raheem respectively.
There were three chief points that emerged out of the final phase of discussions
The current law stipulates that if the son of a living father dies while his siblings are alive, the children of the deceased stand to get nothing by way of inheritance from the property of the grandfather. Is this fair?
Should men and women be given equal share in the inheritance? If not, why?
Where a man has only daughters, should the current law be so reformed that the daughters are considered on a par with the sons and all the estate is divided among them? Why?
Inaugurating the final phase of the discussions, the Kerala High Court judge Justice C K Abdul Raheem maintained that there was nothing essentially amiss about the Islamic Law. However, the Muslim thinkers and scholars should consider if any changes that are concurrent with times but within the limits of the basic principles of Islam were possible at present. Adv. Ahmed Kkutty Puthalath, delivering the presidential address, wondered why those concerned were not ready to grant their dues to the grandchildren, considering that Islam is very clear about the rights of grandchildren. Cherur Abdullah Musliyar, the leader of the Samastha Kerala Jami’atul Ulama, and the moderator of the discussions, said that all Muslim outfits hailed the initiatives and activities of the Justicia.
Presenting a paper on ‘The law of inheritance in Islam’, the Director, Research Centre Al Jamia Al Islamia, said, “Some fair-minded people, like the Westerners, think that Islam is not fair to women. One of the reasons they point out for this is the issue of inheritance. Their claim is that women only get half the share of the property that men get. This is however not true. The least one can say is that in some cases women can get twice as much as men get. When both sons and daughters are the heirs of a father, women get twice as much as the share of men. For instance, if the deceased has only a son and a daughter and has property worth of 3 lakh rupees, 2 lakhs goes to the son and one to the daughter. It is not all over yet. Who has the responsibility of looking after the sister? The brother has the responsibility of taking care of her accommodation, food, clothes, treatment, education and other essential needs. That is to say, the sister ends up being a partner in the share of the brother. The brother, on the other hand, has no partnership whatsoever in the share of the property of his sister. As far as the brother is concerned, his household expenses are apart from all these. Besides, if there is any sick and financially weak mother, maternal uncle, grandfather or paternal uncle, he has the responsibility of their maintenance as well. In other words, when his sister becomes the partner in his property, his share is effectively reduced to one lakh, while the sister’s share effectively goes up to two lakhs”. Presenting a paper on ‘The Law of Inheritance in Mohammedan Law’, Advocate M M Aliyar pointed out that the British used to give precedence to the customs in their legal proceedings. Therefore they used to pass judgment on the basis of customs of Muslims who used to practise some Hindu traditions in their daily lives.
C P Umer Sullami, the State Secretary, K N M, held that law of inheritance in Islam is based on the principles of responsibilities amd obligations and is not meant to protect the orphans and solve their problems alone. He added that Islam had given so much due to women as nature did.
E K Punnur, the Editor, Vichindanam magazine, highlighted the consensus of all Muslim organizations in Kerala on the inheritance issue in Islam. He also termed any attempt to see women on a par with men as unIslamic.
‘Scholars can discuss the laws in islam adinfinitum. However, any review regarding the categorical laws of Islam is off-limits, said V K Ali, the Director, Al Jamia Al Ialamia Shantapuram. He also held that Muslim Personal Law should be given statutory status and such issues should be dealt with by the Personal Law Board that has the statutory power.
Professor A K Abdul Hameed, the Secretary of the Sunni Educational Committee and the member of the Central Hajj Committee, maintained that the law of Allah has the greatest importance. He advocated the status quo on the three subjects.
Kadakkal Azeez Moulavi, the president, Kerala Muslim Jamat , said that those who find fault with the Islamic law are ignorant of the rights Islam gives women. Even George Bernard Shaw has praised to the skies the law of inheritance in Islam. It is nonsensical to say that Islam does not give the fair dues to women, considering that Islam holds the husband responsible for giving even the personal zakat of his wife.
Ahamed Ali, the State Secretry K N M, maintained that if the whole world accepted Islam, the whole financial ills in the world would come to an end. He also said that it was the prerogative of the Giver of property to say how it must be spent and nobody had a say on these matters.
Hyderali Shantapuram, the member of Jamate Islami Consultation Committee, speaking at the function said that the law of Islam is complete and Muslim organizations should make concerted efforts to dispel the popular misconceptions about Islam.
Among those who spoke at the function included V A Kabeer, the Editor ofMadhyamam periodicals, Abu Sahara, A P Abdul Rahman Faizi Panambra, Prabohanam Editor T K Ubaid, Todiyur Muhammed, the Secretary, South KeralaJam’itul Ulama, AlIrshad magazine Editor P M K Faizi, Kunhu Muhammed Pulavat, Dr A A Haleem and Adv. Pulikkal Abubacker, besides the representatives of various Muslim organizations in Kerala.
Talks on Reforms of Muslim Personal Law should Continue