What did Justice Katju say to Indian Muslims on uniform civil code?

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Indian Muslims, wake up

What did Justice Katju say to Indian Muslims on uniform civil code?

By Justice Markandey Katju

In view of the recent political developments in India, bad days seem to be ahead for Indian Muslims.

Indian Muslims, who are about 213 million or 15% of India's population of about 1400 million (according to Pew Research Centre) are today totally confused and perplexed about what they should do. After 2014 they have been politically totally sidelined in India, and atrocities and discrimination against some of them have increased.

Some feel that their problems will end once the BJP is ousted from power, which can be done by forming an anti-BJP alliance of Opposition secular parties and defeating the BJP in the forthcoming 2024 Indian parliamentary elections. I have expressed my view on this idea in my articles, in which I have pointed out that it is superficial and will solve nothing.

The basic problems of Indian Muslims are the same as that of most Hindus viz massive poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses, skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, etc.

Indian Muslims must now also look within themselves, instead of just blaming the BJP for their plight.

A large part of the blame for their plight rests on most Muslim political leaders and most maulanas/muftis in India, who for their own vested interests have been, like leeches, sucking the blood of the innocent but gullible Muslim masses for a long time.

Consider just one example. In 1985 the Indian Supreme Court gave the Shahbano judgment that a Muslim man must give maintenance to his divorced wife. One would have expected every reasonable person to have supported this progressive, humanitarian judgment. In almost every country in the world a husband has to give maintenance to his divorced wife if she is unable to maintain herself and her children. But no, almost all maulanas and Muslim political leaders raised a hue and cry, and vehemently denounced the judgment as being in conflict with sharia law, and ultimately Rajiv Gandhi got the judgment legislatively nullified, as he was told that otherwise Congress would lose its Muslim vote bank.

Take another example, the practice of triple talaq is clearly inhuman and retrograde, because by triple talaq a Sunni Muslim husband can simply throw out his wife ( with her children, if any ) for no rhyme or reason, and without going to Court. Yet the All India Muslim Personal Board, which includes many arch reactionary Maulanas and other like minded arch reactionaries, in its affidavit before the Supreme Court, strongly opposed its abolition.

In fact the entire sharia law is outdated, and needs to be abolished. After all, a law is usually a reflection of existing social customs in a society at a particular stage of its historical development, and so when society changes, the law too must change. How can a law made in the 7th or 8th century in Arabia be relevant or applicable in India in the 21st century ? It is like applying Manusmriti to Hindus today. And to say that if sharia is abolished Islam will be abolished is nonsense. Almost the entire old ( uncodified ) Hindu law was abolished in 1955 and 1956 by the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, etc but Hinduism was not thereby abolished.

In fact a uniform civil code would benefit Muslims by putting an end to the feudal, outdated sharia law, but the reactionary leeches, viz. most of the Indian Muslim political leaders and maulanas will not permit this.

The practice of wearing burqa too must be banned, as it is a feudal, barbaric custom degrading to women, and it has been banned in many countries (including some Muslim majority countries like Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan and Chad, and partially in Turkey and Tunisia).

The Quran only says women should be modestly dressed, but nowhere requires them to wear burqa.

It is now high time for Muslim society, particularly the Muslim youth, to get rid of these leeches, who for their own vested interests, have kept the Muslims backward and have been sucking their blood. Muslims should now demand abolition of sharia, burqa, and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, and suppression of maulanas. Failure to do so will only give a handle to the reactionaries among the majority Hindu community, and be disastrous for Indian Muslims.

Indian Muslims, wake up.

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.)

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