Disket Document: Dinner debate
Cinematographer: Shaina Anand
Duration: 00:33:42; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 329.630; Saturation: 0.079; Lightness: 0.221; Volume: 0.283; Cuts per Minute: 1.602; Words per Minute: 210.356
Summary: A number of historians, journalists and activists are invited to Disket in the Nubra Valley, Ladakh to participate in National Integration Conference. However, it appears that the same has been misrepresented, on arrival they are told that the actual event is the celebration of "Buddh Mahotsav", the first in a series of Nation-wide Events (the next was to be in Arunachal Pradsh) master-minded and organised by the VHP. What were a bunch of left-liberal folks to do? They performed their speeches for the good citizens and children of Disket, and talked late into the night.
Here, after a bizarre day, that began with breakfast and a conversation with the VHP 'paratrooper', Mr. Dewan, and ended with the closed-door round table becoming a public address-cum-cultural programme organised by army officers' wives (as part of operation Sadbhavna), the participants are chatting over dinner. Several strains from previous conversations continue. Here they discuss women's law and property rights.
The participants consist of :
Shaina - Shaina Anand
SA – Shubhadra Anand, Historian (Former Principal and Professor of History, R. D. National College, Bandra, Mumbai)
IE – Irfan Engineer, Social Activist and Advocate (Director - Center for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai)
MM – Meena Menon, Political and Trade Union Activist (Vice President, Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti (Mill Workers' Action Committee) and Senior Associate, Focus on the Global South)
RM - Rama Menon, journalist
NS - Nandini Sunder, journalist
SV - Siddharth Vardarajan, Former Editor, Times of India; currently the Strategic Affairs Editor, The Hindu.
KMC- Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Professor, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
SA: We'll speak in Hindi.
MD: It's all right. I enjoy talking with you all. I told the RSS representative that the old man had a mental illness. RSS representative asked me 'who?' I said: 'Bal Thackarey.' Immediately he cut me off by saying: 'Let it be, Let it be. Our views on this matter do not agree at all.'
Everyone laughs on hearing this exchange.
MD: And then he asked me about S.I.M.I. - Student Islamic Movement of India. So I just answered back that I don't have anything to say regarding them. Anyway, somewhere he (VHP Representative) brought up the topic of reincarnation and past life. Why is there nothing in Islam about this?
I immediately replied that there is. In our culture, it is like this - we have these seven important points with regards to karma - I don't know about cats and dogs - (general laughter at the witty repartee) - but as humans we will always be ahead. According to the Koran, i.e the Prophet says that the still-to- be born child resides at the base of the father's back and from there, the child is transferred to the mother's womb. So if the child has already gone ahead from me into the womb, then it means that I have already reached there. I may or may not be present within me (soul) but after me, there will be something alive... it will go forward like this. It is like this in our understanding...
Sharing stories, experiences and exchanging views over a candlelight dinner is a gathering of the invited participants for the supposed National Integration seminar arranged by the RSS, which is subsequently discovered to be, in fact, a Buddh Mahotsav. In particular, Maulana Dehlvi, a journalist from Delhi shares with the group the incidents of his exchanges with the RSS representative earlier in the day.
Bal Thackeray is the founder and chief of the Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist and Marathi ethnocentric party based in Maharashtra. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bal_Thackeray
has more information on Bal Thackeray.
sacred islamic literature -reincarnation
student islamic movement of india
MD: Then he asked me many things - Pakistan, Article 370. He said, "Listen, we want to talk about 370 but Kashmiri people do not want to talk about it. 370 will get finished, the substitute will get over, these people will starve to death." I said, "Please end 370 today itself." So he asked, "Why?" I said, "Well, two nations, two ministers all that whatever is there. Arcad's Nawab
(Royal Prince) puts up his own flag, the Maharaja of Gaekwad puts one up, Scindia Bhavan in Gwalior has one of its own, and even the Maharaja of Kashmir, has their Suryavanshi flag- in Delhi, in Chanakyapuri. It is always up. You (VHP) have never removed it. Firstly, when the M.C. (Muslim Commission) members put up their flag, you can't say that it is a separate flag. Secondly, in one country the concept of two constitutions exists in many places. For e.g. Maharashtra - In Maharashtra, by law, outsiders will not be allowed entry unless all Maharashtrians agree. Then, Karnataka - Tirupati Temple - there are some kinds of temples that are given a status in Article 369 where the state has the right to run them. Thus, it is not a Muslim issue here. The Arunachal Pradesh people who are outsiders in their own state - the matter which I was referring to this morning ( looks at the other group member who he was with) Himalayas Belt - these people don't really possess anything except their land. They don't have any industry, there's nothing else except for the land and the sky. So an outsider Arunachali should not get entry in Arunachal Pradesh, non-Sikkim should not go to Sikkim, non-Himachali don't go to Himachal Pradesh; and in the same manner, non-Kashmir should not go to Kashmir. Jammu-Kashmir is then not a Hindu-Muslim issue. And thus, if you end Article 370, then there will be no harm done."
Maulana Dehelvi, a journalist from Delhi, recounts an earlier discussion with an RSS representative from earlier in the day; the topic of their discussion having been the need for Article 370.
Article 370 of the Indian Parliament, which is meant to be temporary, grants special status to Jammu & Kashmir. Due to this Article, Jammu and Kashmir have been virtually constituted as a country within a country, with its own flag, emblem, constitution and Sadr-i-Riyasat
(Head of State). The right of the state to have a separate head of state was lost in the 1960s.
This article specifies that except for Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications, the Indian Parliament needed the State Government's concurrence for applying all other laws. Thus the state's residents lived under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians.
Similar protections for those of a unique status exist in tribal areas of India, including those in Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland
has the entire text of Article 370.
jammu & kashmir
maharaja of gaekwad
maharaja of kashmir
MD: He then brought up the favourite VHP topic - Uniform Civil Code. I said, "tell me, all these chaturmas
people. so suppose you make chaturmas
the law, Shankaracharya states that he will not celebrate chaturmas
now, but in January. How can that be possible at all? When you cannot work under the Indian laws yourself, cannot fit within the framework of the Indian Constitution, then what do you expect with regards religion? Then you can't expect a Muslim to follow it.
If you think that we want to implement Islamic Law in an absolutely strictest sense... We are not asking for it to be such that if a robber robs, then his hands should be cut, or if a man rapes then he should be stoned to death, or if someone commits murder, then off with his head. What we are saying is that within the same set of laws, both Hindus and Muslims should follow the laws as per their individual community laws. Where matters of divorce and women's rights are concerned - sure, we can sit across across the table and have discussions on that. But if you are under the impression that we should talk of the laws as stated by Vishva Hindu Parishad
(VHP) - No, we will not do that. Under the same set of laws, we bring in some differing requirements.
In response to this the VHP rep said to me, "very virtuous matter you have brought up."
Maulana Dehelvi continues to recount his discussion with the RSS representative earlier in the day, the topic now moving to the Uniform Civil Code.
has more information on Chaturmas
has more information on the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).
uniform civil code
MD: Uniform Civil code, Kashmir and one more matter he had brought up...
Another activist: About cows, wasn't it?
MD: Aah! Yes, yes, about cows. (General laughter.) Let me have some soup. (More ribald laughter.) About Cows, I said, "wasn't there some illness among cows which had spread abroad?" (More ribald laughter.)
Someone pipes up: Mad Cow Disease.
MD: I said that I had written a long piece on this. But my bad luck; The Mirror (newspaper in UK) quoted only four lines from the entire piece. That too because they wanted to raise the issue about British Muslims in the Parliament. Maybe all of you must be aware that in Islam there are two acts - one Sunni and Shafis Law.
And in Sunni for schools; first is Hanafi
, second is Hambali
, third Shafii
and fourth, Maliki
. Up till now, the figures state that there are 1.20 crore Muslims in the nation (UK). Among them, 100 crore Muslims are all Hanafi
; so the ones who believe the most are Hanafi
. So I am quoting what I had stated there; 'Among the Hanafis
, in the supplementary book after the Koran, the last chapter quotes the words of Shahbaaz, one of the ardent followers of the Prophet, "Please drink the milk of a cow." So people asked, "Why?" He stated this three times, "Please drink the milk of a cow. Please drink the milk of a cow. Please drink the milk of a cow." The Prophet has said that in the world of plants and vegetables, the cow has been blessed by God to eat anything and everything. This is a gift that the cow has been blessed with, so all these nutrients will be present in her milk. But be wary of her, that can cause illness.'
So in response, he (the VHP Representive) said, "Alright, please give this to me. People are not aware about this. We'll get this published."
(Amused laughter all around the table.)
One journalist pipes up: You should become a spokesperson for him.
(General laughter all around.)
MD: No, no, no. After that he said that in the end we desire that...
Another voice: No, no, be careful of him (VHP Rep). He (MD) says that it is written in the Koran.
Another voice: Who says it is written in the Koran?
MD: No, no, it is not written in the Koran. In the supplementary of the Koran.
Same voice: Supplementary of the Koran?
History Professor, Subhadhra Anand (SA): These are the interpretations...
Maulana Dehlvi continues to recount to the group his earlier conversation with Deewanji, the VHP representative at the Festival. His discussions now centres on the cow being revered in Islamic sacred literature. This is in contrast to the predominant notion that the cow is predominantly sacred in Hindu literature.
has more information on the Sunni Islam, and carries links to more information on its four main schools.
Dr. Shubhadra Anand is a retired History Professor, and the former Principal of R. D. National College in Mumbai, India. She is also the author of National Integration of Sindhis
, published in 1996 by Vikas Publishing House, India.
interpretation of the koran
sacred islamic literature
supplemenatary of the koran
SA: You see, the same thing can be interpreted in a different fashion to suit your end. It's like how the Bhagvad Gita... you interpret it how you want to interpret it.
MD: One thing. Yes,what are the analogies? Srimad Bhagvad Gita says, "Tam Soma Jyotir Garme
. (It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.) So I said that the same is in the Koran, "Zulluma Teel Annur. Chaliye Andhero se ujjale mein.
(Come in from the darkness into light.)
For instance, the angels we were referring to yesterday, that is the muse who assists in the writing of extraordinary work and who resides in the body. I said to the VHP rep that we (Muslims) too have a reference for them. So he was astonished and asked me what we refer them to as? So I responded: As Chitragupt - the recording angle of the God of Death, Yama. The intelligence of the Gods is referred to as Kramankantipura
and is allocated to the hidden writer who is writing the matter. So he (the VHP representative) says to me that, "this is a very good thing. These matters should be discussed." Then I also quoted you in some places. (referring to S.A.)
The discussion involves an analogy between the Bhagvad Gita and the Koran, which are offered by Maualana Dehlvi and the other members sitting around the dining table. He provides references in the Islamic literature which allude to the creative inspiration for powerful writing, of muses and angels; concepts which are often read about in western Literature but not so familiar among the populace as part of Indian sacred literature and especially, in Islamic sacred literature.
has more information on Chitragupt.
srimad bhagvad gita
SA: But you know, MD said, "it is written that Ishwar
(God) is so and so, Ishwar
is..." And the VHP representative kept asking every time, "Is it actually written as Ishwar
? Is it actually written as Ishwar
Another member of the group: He actually talks like this...
SA (laughingly): He kept on saying like this; Ishwar
MD: No, no, no, no. The subject of God came up. So I said that we don't say God, but we refer to God as Ishwar
sometimes. So he asked me why we don't say God? I replied that 'G.O.D.' has an entire Christian Theory to it - Creator, Destroyer and Preserver (The Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit). According to me there is only one Creator. So he asked me, "Who is that?' I said, according to me it's Brahma; he transcends even Vishnu and Shiva. He is only Ishwar
, and we only pay homage to him. So the VHP representative was very impressed and said that this is a very good thing.
The conversation wanders to the concept of faith, or religion, and the aspect of God. Maulana Dehelvi explores the name of 'GOD' as linked with Christian faith, and the term used Ishwar
, also used by Muslims.
At the close of this section of the clip, Maulana Dehelvi goes out to take a breath of fresh air.
IE: But it is a true fad in Bengal. Bengali Muslims have no concept of Allah, they refer to God as Ishwar
only. Even today in Bangladesh, Allah is referred to as Ishwar
SA: But then, don't Bengalis call their gods Thakur
(Pause as everybody reflects on this.)
Suddenly a flurry of voices agree and SA reinforces: They call them Thakur
Male member of the group pipes up: I've heard it several times...
SA: I have never heard them use the term God or Ishwar
or any of these things. All of them call Thakur
is the word for God.
Another female member of the group: Thakur
is also the general word for God.
Meena Menon (MM): Thakur
is the word for God.
Female Member: I heard it for the first time in my life from Bengalis.
SA : Why, among Sindhis also, we always say Thakurji
MM: Yes, among Sindhis. Sindhis say... yes.
IE: Sindhis also say Allah!
MM: Yes, Sindhis also refer to God as Allah...
IE: Sindhis say Allah! I was referring to...
MM: Not only that. It is used as such a colloquial term; so if you fall down to the ground or slip, the expression which involuntarily slips out of the person is 'Hay Allah!" (Oh God!) Automatically the word Allah comes in use in the way Sindhi is spoken.
IE finally gets to make the point he has been trying to for some time in the conversation: I was talking about Bengali Muslims; they refer to... Of late, Islamisation... just of late, with fundamentalist movement, now they have slowly started referring to God as Allah. Otherwise Bengali speaking Muslims always referred God as Ishwar
. That was a Hindu tradition and not from... (goes quiet as some people come in)
Another voice: Some people have come....
Those present are now discussing the concept of God and the various names by which the same is referred to in different communities in India, and the origin of these names being either Hindu or Islamic. Specific emphasis appears to be placed on Bengali-speaking Muslims and the words by which they refer to God.
Irfan Engineer is the Director at The Center for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai, India. He's also the author of Underdevelopment Poverty - Political Economy Of Migration - A Case Study Of Sugarcane Harvesters In Western India
, published by Vikas Adhyayan Kendra.
Meena Menon is a journalist and social activist. She has received fellowships from both, the Centre for Science and Environment and Panos Institute, London, to work on water-related issues, and from the National Tree Growers Cooperative Federation in Anand to study development issues in Orissa. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JQP/is_363/ai_111617816
has an interview with Meena Menon regarding some of her social activism.
IE: That is a pet theory.
Shaina: It's lots of... How many people my generation have spoken, who say, "look at the status of our women in the glorious Gupta period. The Muslims came and screwed it all up"?
SA: And then because of the invasion...
MM: Glorious Gupta Period!
SA : Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Shaina : And then, they are like, "women wear Burqa." And I say, what about Sati?
SA : This whole theory which they were floating is women could go out in the night, women could wander around freely. Then these invaders came, and were looting and raping the women. Because of this Hindus were most...
Shaina : Even something as black and white and basic as that, they are blind to it.
MM: In Sati, the theory is that it was acceptable since it was a way to escape the Muslims.
SA : No, no, that is all nonsense. Sati has found effect in the Later Vedic Period.
MM: But the VHP theory is that Sati is a reaction to the invasion by the Muslims.
SA : Early Vedic period, Sati was not found. But Later Vedic Period, Sati was practised.
MD: But that's what I voiced to him.
Shaina : But Later Vedic Period is where everything is.
SA: And later when it became orthodox...
Shaina: But that's not the point...
SA: But Sati is there. It's there in the tenth Mandala of the Rigveda.
MM: But the VHP doesn't say that, do they?
The camera is focused on Maulana Dehelvi while the group discusses the actuality of women's rights and issue as stated within the sacred Islamic and Hindu literature, particularly with regard to Sati and Burqa. The conversation also covers the misuse of early historic textual references to freedom for women in various threads of society by the VHP, creating a misconstrued, narrow and limiting perception of earlier texts, laws and practices in the general thinking of the public.
The VHP representative referred to in the course of the dialogue between Meera Menon and Subhadhra Menon is Diwanji.
has more information regarding Sati and its practise in India.
carries information with regard to the use of Burqa.
The History and Culture of the Indian People. Volume I, The Vedic age
has more information regarding the Vedic period. [ed. Majumdar, R.C. and A. D. Pusalker, The History and Culture of the Indian People. Volume I, The Vedic age
(Bombay : Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1951.)]
MD: That's the point I stressed to him - I said "Mandir mein koi uuuch-niichch ho, yeh Ram nahi kehta, Sati bana to Roop Kunwar ko yeh Gunshyam nahin kehta, Hindu mat se nafrat karna, yeh Islam nahin kehta, masjid ko tum jaake dhao, yeh toh Ram nahin kehta.
" This point too, was accepted very well by him.
(Again, general laughter.)
SA: Oh, so he agreed to that too, did he?
MD (with a humorous tone): Oh, he kept accepting everything I was saying. If you had been there, I would have made him write it down. That way, many topics were covered with him in discussion on S.I.M.I., on women...
Shaina : Hmm. Yes, what did he say?
MD: No, I don't know what he said to you (referring to S.A.): I didn't hear what he said to you earlier. Would you repeat it for my benefit?
MM: No, no... When we were going from here to Nubra, that's when he was telling me...
MD: Who... Diwanji? Was he with you? Oh, this matter wasn't said when I was present.
SA: That means, you had to endure him for seven hours! Seven hours journey you had...
MM: No, it was about four and a half hour's journey.
IE to MD: I missed that... I missed that...
MD: You should have been there. But anyway, yesterday, the Kanchipuram incident...
RM to SA: Anyways, it is a waste of time. Because these people are so fixed in their ideas, their ideology, there's no point...
IE: No, this isn't just about Kanchipuram...
MD: Its about a lot of issues...
IE: Also Bamiyan. When the Buddhist monuments were destroyed...
Male voice: I'm interested in talking to that guy...
RM: I like to talk to them only to the extent that to what point have they gone mad. And what are their mad theories...
SA: But Rama...
IE: But he has made two important admissions...
SA: They need to meet people like them. (Refering to MD and IE) They really need to meet people like that. Because they really have too much stereotype.
Female voice: That's not true...
RM: No, no, no, no, that's okay. But meeting them is not going to make a... make them change an iota of what they are going to do.
NS: Diwan saab
apparently told somebody that in person they are talking very well, but in the public forum, how will they speak out?
MD: yes, yes, yes. That's it. Yesterday, when he was sitting, all three of us were there...
RM: He (the VHP Rep) basically thinks that MD doesn't take him seriously. He is basically saying things for the sake of saying...
Female voice: Like he (the VHP rep) says half the things...
The discussion continues to focus on Maulana Dehelvi's earlier discussion with Deewanji, the VHP rep at the site. The topic of conversation has moved to women, and in particular, the need to create and maintain peaceful relations between Hindus and Muslims.
Irfan Engineer refers to Bamiyan
in discussion with Maulana Dehelvi.
Rama Menon (RM) is a well-known Indian journalist, as is Nandini Sunder (NV).
hindu - muslim
MD: We were talking about women's issues. And with reference to what the three of you were saying yesterday, I said to him, "Prophet has said the same thing in the last message. When the Prophet was on a Hajj
, the last message of the last Prophet where the last point that he made to the audience was, 'I am going to tell you about two types of people, two types of people in the society. One is women and the other are labourers; or either slaves, all of them. You should possess the fear of Allah (God) with reference to these people in society, because where women are concerned with regards to you all (Islamic pilgrims at the Hajj
site) according to the Islamic religion, women are not your hallal ka jaat
. They enter your houses, they raise your children; therefore whatever society is formed is due to them. Thus you should respect them and fear them. And second, labour. You should respect and fear them. Before their sweat dries, you should clear their payment. Try to reduce their work. Also, with regards to burqa, there is the matter of hijaab
in this. First of all, the hijaab
came for the Prophet's wife... means those whom we refer to as mothers?
Up till the times of the Prophet, women used to go to the mosque for worship. It used to be men, women and children as a unit would go together. I have said earlier that my command of English is not very good, and I prefer speaking in the national tongue. But I will try to the best of my ability to help you understand. In the period of Caliph the Second, as in every period's (historical) society, there are people everywhere. Even if you go to Ajmer dargah or Vaishnodevi Temple, you will find bad elements of society - cheats, liars, molesters, etc. What happened in the period of Caliph the Second is that one man harassed a women in the public. When the Caliph got to know, he said that these are the women belonging to our community. If this happens again in the premises of the mosque or around it, then worship will not remain worship anymore and the women's reputation will be finished. So he proclaimed that except for two mosques - one the kaaba
(mecca) and the other, Madina Sharif (the mosque of prophet Mohammed) will be the only mosques where women will be allowed permission to enter. Women will not be allowed to enter any other masjid
(mosque). They should read the namaz
(prayers) in the sanctity of their own homes.
Second, with regard to womens' education, the prophet has said, "Talabullil meinif... Allah.
" (Knowledge and learning is a right for everyone to access.) Those who say that Islam has not given opportunities to women for education... Half of what we consider Islam, that is the Koran. And after the Koran is the hatheez
. Totally there are about 18,000 hadeeth
. If you remove even more than half the hadeeth
, most of it has come to us through the Prophet's wife, considered as the mother of all the Muslims, whom we consider as the highest women authority. With regard to the costume to be worn by the ladies, he asked them to wear the purdah. Purdah does not mean that you cover yourself totally all the time. When you visit various places and travel in the public grounds, you are requested to be conservative in your attire. And with regard to their monetary freedom - if the women is your wife, then offer her <i.mehr.
Maulana Dehelvi discusses the Prophet's words with regard to women, as mentioned in the sacred Islamic literature. He attempts to justify the various laws in Islam which were supposedly created in the best interests of women with regard to their safety and protection. He also discusses Islamic ideas regarding Labour.
has pictures and information which relates to this sacred religious site.
is a holy city located in Saudi Arabia, and is considered to be the holiest city in Islam.
have information regarding Caliph the Second, or Caliph ii.
has further information regarding the hadith
, whereas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purdah
provides information with regard to the Purdah.
has a photo-supported tour of Madinah Sharif, Mosque of Prophet Mohammed.
MD: According to the Christian law - I have come to know this recently - you must be aware that if a Christian couple doesn't have a son but has daughters, then according to Christian Law, the daughter could not inherit the property of the father/ parents; the property would go to the nephews of the father and not to the daughter. Islam decided that a woman in the capacity of being a wife would get mehr
, as a mother would get six percent of the entire property, as a daughter she would be entitled to one share of the entire property. It's not like in a Hindu family... Actually, we can consider any family...
SA: One share... Does that mean an equal share?
MD: No, that's just what I am trying to explain.
Female voice: It's not equal.
MD: I am trying to explain....
IE: Half a share. She inherits one half of her brother...
The discussion starts with MD, Maulana Dehelvi explaining the details of property laws in Islam and its allocation for men and women; soon, everybody in the group is vociferously involved in this interesting and contentious subject. Various perspectives come to light through this discussion.
has information provided by Shruti Pandey regarding the property rights of women in India on the basis of religion.
has an article by Dr. Purushottam Bilimoria regarding the state of the Muslim Personal Law in India, whereas http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:3Xmu2Uh23wYJ:www.unhabitat.org/downloads/docs/3546_65292_ILP%25203.doc
has a more in-depth discussion of the same. For further reference, one can refer to [Sait, Siraj and Hilary Lim, Human Rights in Islam: Law, Property and Access to Land
(London: Zed 2006)]
has an account of Women's property rights in various nations across the world, including India.
MD: I'll explain using my personal family example; from my mother! Altogether there are eight women - seven aunts and my mother - so that makes it eight ladies. And I have only one uncle. When the property was divided, after removing the share due to my mother, Indian law states that half should go the woman and half to the man. 80 lakhs worth of property should be split in such a way that 40 lakh goes to the brother and the rest of the 40 lakh is split among the sisters. Islam doesn't agree on such a division. Islam says that the entire property should be split ten ways. One share for a woman is equal to two shares for a man. So in my case, eight out of ten shares are to the women, and two shares go to the man. So the property division allows my uncle to get only 2 percent instead of half the entire property which would be 50 percent. Instead he's got only 2 percent. According to Islam, the ladies have got 80 percent. And the man only got 20 percent. As per Islamic law...
SA: But nobody does that...
IE: No, people don't.
MD: See, we don't take our property matters to the court. One thing that people are not aware of...
SA: No, not court, but even then... generally, what they do is... what you have mentioned earlier. Generally 50 percent of the property straightaway goes to the brother, and then the rest of the 50 percent is then divided among the women. Generally, they always do this...
Maulana Dehlvi uses a personal example to illustrate the reality of Islamic property law. This appears to spark a great deal of debate among the others.
Female voice: No, but how should it actually be? Supposing there are four daughters and two sons, then how should it be?
MD: Four daughters and two sons. If the wife is alive...?
Female voice: Yeah.
MD: Then remove six percent in her favour...
Female voice: Yes, all right.
MD: Okay. If we remove siz percent... Let us assume that the entire property is one hundred percent. So for four daughters it will be four shares, and for the two sons also there will be four shares, since one share to the woman is equal to two shares to the man.
Female voice: Let's put it in terms of a hundred rupees. How will you explain in terms of a hundred rupees?
MD: Okay. Let's take a hundred rupees. Out of hundred, the division is for four daughters and two sons. So how much percent does that make it?
Female voice: Eight percent.
MD: Eight percent, huh? So four shares will go to the women already, and four shares will go to the men. And one woman will get 2 shares.
IE: Simple formula is that sister inherits half of her brother.
RM: Why is that so?
SA : Sister inherits half of her brother... that's what I am saying...
RM: I am saying, isn't there a need to change that? Why is there an inequality between a sister and a brother?
IE: Maybe there is a need. Maybe there is a need in accordance with the times... But the concept at that time was that a woman inherits from husband as well as father. So that is why... maybe now...
RM: So then both ways you are making her dependent, isn't it?
IE: No, no. It isn't a question of dependence. Islam never said women have no economic rights. Women have all the economic rights. They can work, they can earn, they can have their own property. Women have all the economic rights.
RM: But when the man gets married...
IE: No, no, no, no. It isn't like that!
RM: When the son gets married, he gets his own plus the wife's share.
IE: Rama, don't confuse. This is how property will be inherited after death of a person.
The discussion on property rights continues, with the added aspect of the possible gender-based inequalities present therein.
division of property
IE: So, in that, the daughter inherits half of what a brother inherits.
RM: I'm saying, why not equal?
IE: Because the daughter is also going to get married.
RM: The son also gets married.
Male voice: No, no, no.
IE: The son doesn't get the property of the wife whereas...
RM: No, no... The property that comes to the wife through her father, where does that go?
Female voice: Both of you are talking two different things.
MD: No, no. I'll tell you. It's a matter of equality. I'll tell you. Like in my case, in my grandfather's case, the women are getting a larger share. That is, one rupee. We shall consider it as hundred paise. So from that eighty paise is going to the ladies...
Female voice: How eighty paise? On what basis?
MD: Yes, the Islamic law allows that one man gets two shares of the property.
Shaina: It's so simple
IE to MD: For e.g. Her question is that...
NS: The girl gets ten percent only, doesn't she?
IE to MD: Her question is that, if we see each of them individually...
RM: I'm saying that see each of them individually.
Shaina: Whatever the girls get, the boys get double, no matter how many boys and how many girls.
IE: Your uncle gets double that of any sister...
IE: So why did he get double than the woman? That's the crux of her question.
Shaina: So, if a family had three daughters and three sons, the daughters each get one share. i.e. one, one, one and the sons get two each.
The discussion on property rights heats up, with the conversation moving to the inequality of the divisions.
MD (in reply to IE's question): Oh, I see. That's what I am telling you about. Listen to me. Rama, in that it is such that the man does not get another share from anywhere else. For example, my mother...
RM: But when the man gets married to a girl...
MD: But that's exactly what I am explaining! The girl is liable to inherit from many places; the son gets double because he only inherits from the father. For example, my mother, she already gets a share from her father's property.
RM: But I want to ask about one thing. When this son gets married, he gets married to a girl?
RM: He marries a girl only, doesn't he? So when that girl gets a share from her father's property, that share is brought by the girl and it goes to him (her husband) only. Doesn't it come into the same family?
IE: No, no, no. It is considered as that women's separate individual private property. She can give it to anybody else. She can will it to her brother.
Female voice: No, no, no. But that is again in theory.
RM: He has no right.
IE: Husband has no right.
Another voice: You cannot defend husband's right to the...
RM: But if I get married to the man, I have a right over his property? His entire property?
RM: No, I don't have a right over his entire property; I get only six percent. So where is equality here?
IE: No, no, no.
MD: No, no, no. Where is it only six percent? Listen to me...
Another voice: She doesn't get the...
RM: I don't get property from my husband, no?
MD: Property. Now, in my case for example, my mother's total property, in that she got a ten percent share from her father, six percent from my father, and then the will allowed her...
(will)... Here we are not talking about adhikar
RM: No, what I am saying is that doesn't it make things simpler, if everybody is given equally? Doesn't it make things simpler?
MD: Okay, tell me, how will you make it equal? Take my case, for example. In my case there are eight girls and one guy. How will you make the division to ensure that all get equally?
Female voice: All together -
MD: Okay, nine ways. Then where will you give the guy more from?
RM: He will get as much as the girls are getting.
MD: You have given the guy, haven't you? But the point I am trying to make is that the girl is entitled to inherit from many other places.
RM: From where?
MD: I'm telling you. That's what i am trying to tell you. Ten percent my mother got from her father, six percent she got from my father...
IE: No, no, no...
MD: Listen to me...
IE: Maulana Saab
MD: Please let me finish. Hear me out, please. Ten percent she got from my grandfather, six percent she got from her husband and she also has a stake in my share. She gets five percent from her son also. So, in this way, she gets quite a lot from many places. She gets a lot more than my uncle does.
IE: No, no, no. That is not the point.
RM: No, no. What you are talking about is one family situation.
IE: The uncle will also get his share from his father; he will also get his share from his sons...
MD: Yes, he is... Yes, he is...
The conflict regarding the non-equitable division of property escalates.
IE: The point that remains is...
MD: That the distribution should be nine ways instead of ten. That it be equal... No, It is not like that.
MM: No. That was the question. But my question is different. Suppose you see the women's rights in all the different religions - Hindu, Muslim, Christian; women always get...
RM: Women always get smaller shares.
MM: All these rules which were made regarding these rights were made in a very different era. And the prophets, having made rules in that era so that women would get their share, was a -
MM: Suppose the law prevails that every child is given their share and the shares are allotted equally, then it will be like this - when any of the girls get married, they will get that share and take it with them to their husband's home. Supposedly, there one family consists of Irfan and the three of you. All of you got one share each. Suppose Nandini gets married and her share goes with her; her husband's share will also become theirs. In the same way, suppose Irfan marries someone. Then that girl's share from her family will come into this house and will become part of their share. Revolutionary practice, there's no question about that. But now the times have changed. And if changes are not made to the Hindu code, Shariat law, Christian laws, then how will it be? Whether it is Jesus Christ or the Prophet, all of them preached the same ideas that there should be unity among the people and society; there should be equality, everybody should get justice, and the society and world keep changing...
MD: You are absolutely right!
Rama Menon discusses the need for a change in the law to reflect the changed state of the world.
RM: And what Meena is saying about these laws - at that time whatever was prescribed as rules in the society, they were made as per the needs of those times. And it was revolutionary for the people then. But with time if you do not make the relevant changes, then you are becoming out of sync with times.
MD: Listen to me. In India, this is a difficult matter. I don't consider myself too broad-minded or too conservative. I prefer the middle path. What you are referring to here is what we also have a knowledge of, is referred to in Islam as ishteharr
(analogy). The prophet had predicted and voiced many ideas and information aeons ago. It is my understanding that the Prophet had seen much of the generations ahead and how times were going to be...
RM: And he must have had visions, I am sure.
MD: The prophet saw -in Islam there is a place called Ficah - The Islamic Judiciary System. The prophet himself drew the boundary of Ficah, the Koran and Sunnat are the boundaries of the IJS. But the Ficah is beyond them. During his time, the Prophet met a man named Mazbeen. Jaban, the Governor of Yemen, when he was going, the Prophet called him forth. The Prophet would discuss matters openly. He asked this fellow, "where are you off to?" And on receiving his reply, the Prophet asked him,"how are you going to practice Justice and Law there?" He replied, "I will refer to the Koran." The Prophet said, "but there are many matters that have not been written in the Koran." The Prophet is saying this. So the man replied, "then I will look at the traditions and customs which have been followed by the people from earlier times, which you have guided them in." The Prophet says, "suppose that my speeches and guidances also don't give you the answers you seek, what then?" So he said, "then I will merge both these areas, and thus analogy."
IE: Analogy. By analogy...
The discussion moves to the representation of women at the Muslim Personal Law Board.
Islamic Judiciary System
Maulana Ali Miah Nalvi
Maulana Husain of Madni
Muslim Personal Law Board
MD: There is something further than this in Islam that exists, which is called ayaas
IE: No, unanimity. When all the Maulvis are called...
Female voice: Analogy, the modern and tradition coming together...
IE: Suppose the matter on which justice is sought is not found through analogy? Then all the Maulvis - the learned people, people versed in the texts and philosophy of the faith are called together to take a decision.
RM: In this matter, I have only one problem. Like, for example, the meeting of the Muslim Personal Law Board, which took place recently...
MD: I was coming to this point only!
RM: No, the meeting is of men. And the men are deciding for the women. And they are never giving a chance to the women to say, "do I have a problem with what is happening? Can I have a word here? Can I come and give my opinion here that these are the difficulties I are facing and my voice will be heard? Can you people do something for me?" If only the Maulvi men are sitting there and taking decisions and they are not even lending a ear to the women's problems, then it is very difficult.
MD: No. That's the matter that we are coming to. The Muslim Personal Law board can undertake many decisions, and also yet not decide many matters. See, this matter of Analogy. In India, this cannot be put into practice.
RM: Why not?
MD: That's what I am attempting to explain. Please be patient. See, any country is divided into two halves by Islam. It sees any country in two perspectives, Dar-ul-Harab
. Dar-ul Harab
means the countries and nations which are ruled by those that Islam does not accept, and the people are Muslim. There Islam propagates that you respect the laws of the country but also keep in mind your own religious laws. Dar-ul Islaam
, where Islamic Law is the Law abided by and practised in the country; such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and even Turkey are all Dar-ul-Islaam
. With regard to India, in 1936, Maulana Husain of Madni, the Father of the Azad Madni and now the President of the Jamat-Ullah-Hind... If you may have seen, near the big twelve headquarters, the big office is that of Jamat-Ullah-Hind. At the time the question was raised that what exactly was Hindustan? Because he knew that as time goes by, this issue will gain importance and will be relevant for decisions to be taken in many contexts later, such as women, children. So he said that India is neither Dar-Ul-Harab
, nor is it Dar-Ul-Islaam
. Because the Azaan
is practised in the open spaces, people read their namaaz
on the streets. There is no issue with regards to this, so this is Dar-Ul Islam
, because robbers are not punished by Islamic Law where their hands would be cut off, and Muslim Personal Law Board does not have authority in itself.
Your statement is valid in that the matters of the women are heard in our practice. This is done in two ways. The unfortunate thing is that there has never been an attempt to delve into the details of Islamic practice or the way matters are actually approached. In our community, there is an established Madarsa
for women - Madarsa Tulbanat, Institution for the women. There are many women's matters which cannot be expressed openly. No matter how advanced one becomes, many matters need secrecy and privacy. So these women's issues are discussed by women counsels; they are referred to as Banat
. And the Personal Law Board's former Chairman is no more. Maulana Ali Miah Nalvi, this institution was established in his period. Before that, in 1946... not 1946 but 1942, when the Quit India Movement was going on, there was a book...
RM: If this was done in secret...
Female voice: Maulana... if practised in secret...
NS: Cannot understand what she is saying.
MM: What he meant secretly, was that women might want to speak privately, not in the public; what they want to speak about themselves.
Maulana Dehlvi asks Meena Menon to elaborate on some of the problems attributed to Muslim women, in order to see if he could provide either an explanation or a solution to the same.
MD: Okay. I will put the question to you from the opposite direction. What kind of problems can you perceive a Muslim woman whom you are close to, to be facing?
RM: There are very few Muslim women in Delhi that I know of.
MD: No. There must be some problems you can suggest?
RM: Randomly, I can give you a few examples. The ones who were studying with me, they had a problem of eating meat. There was a dog in their house; there was a big problem regarding that. It is against your religion (Islam), I think, to have a dog in the house.
MD: Regarding a dog - Phuntsok - the former views were established by Phuntsok in Delhi, when he was the Joint Secretary, for security. When he was asked about a dog at his house, he replied that no dogs are allowed at my house. Pervez Deewan also will say that I don't like to keep dogs at my place. With regard to dogs, there are some things that people say. Sometimes, in a week, people get their dogs and sometimes one asks them to keep them at a distance since one has just had a bath, etc. Things like that. Some aspects are scientific in nature. As such, it is not a law by religious practice which imposes such a rule. For example, before sitting for a meal, one ritual practice I adhere to is to wash my hands. The Prophet says that when you sit for a meal, wash your hands beforehand and then start the meal with wet hands. If after washing your hands, you dry them with a napkin, then you don't know what minutiae is on the towel that will again remain as residue on your hands unknown to you. So the Prophet suggests to eat with wet hands. After washing he says, keep them apart and don't let them touch anything. So similarly, where dogs are concerned...
Female Voice: That is, of course, not a women's problem.
RM: No, not at all. But one of the many restrictions she had to face. For example, I'll tell you, the fact that all at home were Muslims for sure. But not all were namaaz
reading Muslims. And there were two daughters, and no sons, so there was a lot of pressure from the community, that who will marry into their family where the members are not namaaz
MD: listen, there is nothing like this. I'll say this to everybody; even Irfan saab
(The shot gets cut here and comes back on him as he continues.)
MD: We went to the Sharia Court. The Sharia Court ruled the final verdict in the matter, that this is the inheritance of the man. And the woman who was his wife, she had not borne him any sons in the two years of marriage and they wanted to marry her off again. (A bit of dialogue is missed.) I had said that this is not the way to sort this matter, and if we go to court, legal decisions would come after three or four years in which precious time, effort and energy would be lost, but the matter got decided in three days. They refused to accept it, so the mediator who gave the verdict said that on the third day we will announce it in the mosque that this was the final verdict given on this matter by the Kazi, and the opposing party has refused to accept it. On the fourth day, he himself came and wanted to resolve the matter. And today, thanks to God, they have two daughters.
Female voice: Who has two daughters?
MD: My sister.
Female voice: Did he divorce her?
Female voice: Did she get a divorce from him?
MD:He had come to the point of giving a divorce. The family had decided and so had the son. It had been one and a half years and there was no child, so they had decided to. Other Muslim fellow men had suggested to me that this matter should be decided in the court. I said that we will not go to court. If we only start going to court, then... Something had to be done. We straightaway approached the Sharia High Court. The Delhi Sharia High Court is based in Kashmir. The court which is referred to as the All India Supreme Court, is just near the I.Q. The mosque next to it serves as the supreme court. In Mumbai, inside Bhendi Bazaar, where there is...
MM: The lady referred to that mosque. She went to that Kazi, but nothing came of that matter. But later, the Bhendi Bazaar ladies who would get together, what was the name of that group?
IE: Awaaz-e-Niswa. They had formed a group - divorced women who had nowhere to go, who had no way to go forward in their lives, to provide for their children and themselves - so they made small self-help groups, started making soaps at home to create income. We were also helping them, guiding them about how best to raise their children and such. But in spite of all this, when it came to fighting for her rights, she didn't get the backing of the group to help build her courage and offer support to fight and claim her rights.
MD: No, it's extremely difficult to go against the entire community.
MM: But this is exactly what pinches the most. In the Muslim society, she had taken a lot of effort and pain to contribute to selflessly for the needs of women towards this organisation, but on this matter she was terrified and frightened to take a step forward. Two times she was going to appear in court, but she didn't tell anybody that I have only told the lawyer to take matters slowly.
MD: You are from the press. But in our community the ladies are scared to go to the court. In the entire world, whether some Christian person comes, whether their own people are burnt, or dead or return from calamities, they are to always remain inside their homes. Here, there is a Muslim registered. Here I am telling you the true facts because I have many Muslim lawyer friends. (The tape is cut off.)
The conversation between Maulana Dehlvi, Meena Menon and Irfan Engineer focuses on cases that they themselves know of, with regard to Muslim women dealing with the law.
has information regarding the Sharia Court.
self help groups
sharia high court
treatment of women