Law and culture are inextricably related concepts that require a social and cultural backdrop for meaning. For every religion, there are some basic grounds that guide a person to follow a particular religion.
Since medieval ages, Muslims have been following the same orthodox and ancient traditions which don’t particularly work in favor of women.
However, in India, there are attempts made to reconcile traditional religion and work on the issue of women protection under Islamic legal concepts. Few of the modern Muslim thinker’s debate about the flexibility in the principles of Islam. This allows them to explain and interpret with the greatest freedom while still keeping the faith intact. And particularly, this is what today demands.
As a result of this debate, two groups among the Muslims have emerged. A few believe that maintaining a religion should be sacrificed for the sake of modernization. But there are few who support the idea that modernization should be sacrificed for the sake of religion.
In short, here are 8 such issues that are basically crucial and require immediate attention-
1. Triple Talaq
Triple Talaq is basically the easiest way to part ways from your spouse. As per the Islamic laws, any Muslim man can divorce his wife by just saying the word ‘talaq’ three times. It can either be oral, written and since in the advanced technological system of today, it can even be done through any digital messaging system too. This practice has been in action for ages.
Even if it raises issues of justice, gender equality, human rights and secularism, it was long before that India paid attention and put a ban on this. Before 2016, there were thousands of cases, wherein the wife was divorced and abandoned by their husbands on the basis of no logical grounds.
After putting ban on this tradition, India became the 23rd country to ban ‘triple talaq’ which already includes Pakistan and Bangladesh.
2. Nikah Halala
Halala is one of the other rules of Islamic marriage which needs to be paid attention to. According to the law, if a man divorces his wife, she cannot marry the same guy again unless she marries another man then divorce him as well too marry the previous one.
It might sound simple but the interpretation of this law which can be clearly seen in the Indian Muslim communities is something beyond imagination. Thousands of cases have surfaced in which after divorce, the wife is forced to sleep with her father-in-law, brother-in-law, or any male relative in the name of halala. This unethical and treacherous practice is backed up by the males. And it’s on the basis that after halala, the woman becomes eligible and he can remarry her.
Of course, any logical person wouldn’t agree to this reason, but sadly it is something that the females have to go through each time they are divorced. But so far, there isn’t any strict law in India preventing such act in the name of religion.
Polygamy is a practice commonly seen in the Muslim communities that allows a man to have up to four wives. Again, there are religious facts that back up this theory according to those who practice it. But, it’s just a matter of how they interpret the law.
For Muslims, polygamy draws its validity from Chapter 4 of the Quran. Its verses allow men to marry “two or three or four” women, but at the same time, it asks a Muslim man to have just “one” wife, if they can’t treat all of them in an equal manner. However, it is misinterpreted and Muslim men are seen with multiple wives, none of which are treated fairly.
Supreme court also commented on this that polygamy is not a fundamental practice in Muslim religion which means that they can have up to 4 wives if if they want to. Also, monogamy is state law which means that as per the laws laid down within the country a person is only allowed to have one spouse. However, these are yet to be implemented on the ground level, as even today millions are in favor of preserving this practice.
Among the Muslim population in India, burqa is commonly worn by the young and married women. The concept of this usually finds its origin again in the Holy Quran. This states that going by the Islamic traditions, women should cover the body and face in public. They believe that this prevents the female to spark any sexual feeling in the others.
However, the case isn’t as simple as it appears. Not only it hides the identity of the female, but also creates a distinctive sense of being cut-off from the world. Several countries have banned this attire because of terrorist activities taking the aid of burqa for suicide bombings.
France, Belgium, the Netherlands are one of the many countries which have banned the burqa for security reasons. There have been cases in India where police have found terrorists even assembling bombs in the garb of running burqa factory, and also using burqa’s to travel without being caught. It might be a possibility that the banning of an attire might strike a fire in the name of violation of human rights, but that surely doesn’t mean that we should continue risking lives in the name of religion.
5. Animal Sacrifice
Animal sacrifice has been an integral part of Muslim culture. Even though killing an animal in the name of religion isn’t justified, Muslims take pride in it. Yet again they refer to their tradition according to which they are obliged to sacrifice a lamb or a goat or join others in sacrificing a cow or a camel during the celebration.
It really doesn’t matter which celebration it is, it requires an animal to be sacrificed. And they also believe in distributing it among friends and family and needy who cannot sacrifice an animal. Millions and millions of animals are beheaded on the major festivals of Muslim communities across the globe.
In 2017, the Supreme Court finally intervened in this matter after a few animal rights activists and organizations approached the court with a petition. But sadly, as India is a religion-oriented country where anything related to religion takes time to be changed, a ban could not be placed.
For now, the apex court has stayed the clause of prohibiting sacrifice of cattle for religious purposes under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules.
6. Genital Mutilation
The practice of the genital mutilation is a horrifying truth that has been kept well-hidden under the veil of religion. The belief that the clitoral head is ‘unwanted skin’, that it is a ‘source of sin’ makes some of the orthodox communities still support this practice.
Even the elderly females that have undergone this procedure in the past believe that if not performed, it will make them ‘stray’ out of their marriages. On the contrary, senior Muslim religious authorities appear to disagree. They believe that FGM is not required by Islam or is prohibited by it. But the point is, there is no mention of FGM in the Quran either.
This questions the base of this practice altogether because even the ones who believe it are under a wrong notion. They feel that if they don’t undergo FGM, they will disrespect their religion. And that’s clearly not the case. So, why are even females in support of continuing this hideous practice which causes N number of health-related issues?
Finally, the Centre has intervened and even the Supreme Court opposes the practice of FGM strongly. Additionally, the Center has also filed a counter affidavit stating that the FMG is a crime with a punishment of seven years of imprisonment. It’s just a matter of time when the top Court will step in and issue directions on the practice of FMG.
7. Short-term and contractual marriage
There are two versions of this kind of marriage which are available for the Muslim men. One is known as Nikah mut’ah and the other is called ‘Nikah Misyar’. It won’t be wrong to refer to these marriages as a form of a pleasure marriage. Both Nikahs have plenty of benefits – for the man. Just to cloak this, it is said that women who have no hope for real marriage also benefit from these contracts. Just because of the companionship they are offered within the contract.
A man can make a contract with a woman to be his temporary wife for a certain period of time. It could be several hours, days, weeks or months. No witnesses are needed for this contract to begin.
They can meet whenever they want, but can’t live together. Several Muslim religious leaders are against this practice as they believe these traditions are for the sole purpose of “sexual gratification in a licit manner”. And definitely, they aren’t wrong if they say so. Alas, even now, this law still exists and which should have been banned ages ago.
8. Domestic Violence
The connection between domestic violence and Muslim religion has always been a topic of debate. Several cases of domestic violence get reported by Muslim females on an everyday basis. And males are not seen guilty in most of the cases. It’s because he believes it was right of him to beat his wife.
Unfortunately, there is a verse that supports this claim openly. It also provides solid grounds to the violence-oriented males of the Muslim community. It states that ‘As to those women from whom you fear disobedience, first admonish them, then refuse to share your bed with them, and then, if necessary, beat them.’
There is no way that the ones who blindly follow traditions in the name of religion are going to change. Status of women require basic safety with the help of a law. Only then it may come to an end and the future generation will be much more logical in their behavior.