PUCL, 30 June 2005
The Imrana case and the Deoband fatwa
-- By J.S.Bandukwala, Vadodara
The Imrana case and the Deoband fatwa, is generating considerable anxiety .There is a fear that we may be on the verge of another Shah Banu disaster.The last thing the country needs at this stage is another issue to widen the gulf between Hindus and Muslims. The concern for Imrana is genuine and admirable among human rights and women activists.But there is also the Sangh Parivar that would love to use this issue to increase stereotyping of Muslims, and shed crocodile tears for the plight of its women.
It is best that we refer to the actual Koranic injunction. Surah 4, ayat 23, lays down those with whom marriage( sexual intercourse) is not allowed. " Prohibited in marriage are your mother, daughters, sisters, father's sisters, mother's sisters, brother's or sisters's daughters, foster mothers or foster daughters, wife's mother, step daughters, daughter in laws , and two sisters in wedlock at the same time."
In the Imrana case the father in law forced himself onto his daughter in law. She screamed and shouted for help. Clearly it was not with consent. The father in law is obviously guilty, while the daughter in law is the victim. The above injunction applies only when consent is involved. The Imrana angle has to be viewed from the viewpoint of a number of other injunctions in the Koran, that demands compassion and kindness to the victim.I am surprised the Deoband ulemas failed to apply these Koranic commands. Certainly Imrana, her husband and her five children deserve these considerations.By declaring this marriage to be null and void, the final price for this dastardly act will be paid by the victims.That violates the spirit and the letter of the Koran.
The Deoband ulemas have erred badly.