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`Shias, Sunnis are one on Shariat'

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, APRIL 3. The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, which will hold its 18th session in Bhopal from April 30 to May 1, is on a mission to dispel the misconceptions about Muslim personal law and to demonstrate that the two sects, Shia and Sunni, are in harmony in accepting the Shariat (Muslim Personal Law), and its other tenets.

The board's assistant secretary, Abdul Rahim Qureshi, and the Shia representative on the board from Lucknow, Kalbe Jawad, told presspersons here on Sunday that there is no move to splinter the board and carve a separate one for the Shias. "Some people are allowing themselves to be provoked and instigated by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Within the board we are all united, and cherish the Shariat," Mr Jawad said.

The board does not find the idea of women conducting prayers in mosques acceptable, but Mr Qureshi had an explanation.

"We have two hands, if one hand wishes to come over to the other side, can we function normally?"

Defended

He went on to defend the Shariat as being more progressive than the Hindu or Christian laws as far as women are concerned.

It frowns on dowry, for instance, and does not allow women to be left destitute or without support.

Campaign

The Shariat awakening campaign that will take off during the Bhopal session will help restore the faith in the Shariat and reinstate it as an integral part of being a Muslim. The Shariat determines mutual rights and duties in a Muslim family, and does not affect non-Muslims in any way.

Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees freedom to practice any religion, and any interference in the Muslim Personal Law will be a violation of that fundamental right, Mr. Qureshi said. The board came into existence after Parliament took up discussion of the Child Adoption Bill, and the then Union Law Minister, H.R. Gokhale, declared while moving the Bill that it was the first step towards the enactment of a Uniform Civil Code. The 1972 All-India Muslim Personal Law convention responded by setting up the board. It was contended at the time, and even today, that the Muslims are governed by all the civil laws, which are applicable to all citizens of the country, irrespective of caste or creed. The Shariat is clearly a law that governs family matters such as marriage, the mode of dissolution or termination of marriage, inheritance and succession and other matters where it is the religion or custom that prescribe the procedure, Mr. Qureshi said.

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