Personal laws

This article has been written by Mehernaz Contractor of Siddharth Law College, Mumbai. This article provides a detailed overview of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. It focuses on the functions and composition of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

It has been published by Rachit Garg.

Introduction

The Muslim community follows the principles of Islam because it believes that Islam guides them in every aspect of their life. They believe that Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 can better guide their actions rather than any source of law or statute. Muslims are always hesitant to follow any kind of a uniform code which applies to the whole of India. To implement personal laws in India, a non-governmental organization called All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was constituted in 1973. It was formed to protect the Sharia laws from any law or legislation that tries to suppress them. It guides Muslims and protects their rights against issues in society.  

History of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board

In the early 1970s, the government tried to suppress the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act. The Adoption Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha in 1972 by the Law Minister H. R. Gokhale to bring a Uniform Civil Code to India. This Adoption Bill will allow the Muslims to adopt a child but this was widely criticized by the Muslims. Islam does not recognize adoption, so the adopted child will not have similar rights as a born child. Muslims were opposed to this Bill as they believed that the government was trying to replace the Sharia law, which governed marriage, divorce, and various actions of a Muslim person. Ulema, Muslim leaders, and Muslim organizations convinced the Muslim community that the government was conspiring against them and they would lose all their rights.

Due to this, many people from the Muslim community belonging to different schools, such as Shia and Sunni schools gathered to support personal Muslim law. All the organizations met for the first time at Deoband to save the Sharia law on the initiative of Hazrat Maulana Syed Shah Minnatullah Rahmani and many other leaders. The meeting decided to hold a convention called ‘Uniform Civil Code, Adoption Bill 1972, Protection of Islamic Shariah’ in Mumbai in December 1972. The convention decided that adoption is not a part of Islam, so the bill got rejected. The Convention unanimously decided to form AIMPLB and adopted its Constitution in Hyderabad. 

Some people believe that AIMPLB was formed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to obtain votes from the Muslim community as the Congress lacked support from the Muslim league whose intentions were to strengthen Muslim Personal Law.

Purpose of forming the All India Muslim Personal Law Board

All India Muslim Personal Law Board was formed to protect the Sharia laws. It was formed to reject the Adoption Bill, which was to be adopted as a part of the Uniform Civil Code. The aims and objectives of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board are stated below:

  • To adopt strategies for the protection of Sharia law and monitor the continuous application of Muslim personal law in India.
  • To prohibit any legislation or judgment of the Court to interfere in Muslim personal law.
  • To generate awareness about the applicability of Muslim personal law in the life of Muslims.
  • To constitute committees for implementing actions of the board in the country.
  • To constitute a permanent standing committee comprising Ulema and legal experts to study laws, rules, regulations, and circulars issued by the central and state governments and other governmental and semi-governmental agencies or the Bills introduced in the Parliament.
  • To promote a sense of harmony, goodwill, brotherhood, cooperation, and unity among followers of various schools of Islam.
  • To find solutions to the issues facing the Muslim community.
  • To set up delegations and study teams and organize conferences, seminars, symposia, public meetings, and undertake tours and publish and disseminate suitable literature for achieving the aims of the board.

Composition of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board

All India Muslim Personal Law Board comprises of executive and general committee. The Executive Committee consists of 51 persons and the general committee consists of 201 members. Women’s representation is 10% in the Executive Committee and 19% in the General Committee. Recently, AIMPLB in its two-day meeting at Kanpur appointed 30 women to the general committee and 3 women to the Executive Committee. The members of the General Committee will be from various schools and groups of Muslims. The following persons will hold an office on the Board:

  • A President
  • 5 Vice Presidents
  • 1 General Secretary
  • At Least 3 Secretaries 
  • Treasurer

The term of the members will be three years. The members will have to pay an annual fee of Rs. 500/-. Once every year, the list of the office-bearers and members of the society shall be submitted to the office of the Sub-Registrar, Delhi under Section 4 of the Societies Registrations Act, 1860. Various committees are formed under the AIMPLB as stated below:

Rabita Madaris Islamia Committee 

new legal draft

This Committee was formed to protect the Deeni Madaris. It collected all the information about the Deeni Madaris in a form so that all misconceptions about them must be removed. The committee is planning to make a framework for the information collected.

Nikahnama Committee 

This Committee was formed to resolve the issues in the Nikah in the Muslim community. The committee will conduct meetings to finalize a standard Nikahnama. 

Committee on Babri Masjid 

This Committee was formed when the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) announced plans to construct Ram Mandir at the site of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The Committee appealed to the Muslim community to hold meetings or symposiums regarding the demolition of the Babri Masjid. 

Committee on Social Reforms

This Committee helps to bring social reforms to the Muslim community. The Committee is also planning to hold seminars, symposia, and conventions at state and regional levels. It aims to create awareness about Islam in the Muslim community.

Committee on Darul Qaza

This committee was formed for solving the issue of Darul Qaza. The committee consists of 5 members.

Currently, S. Mohd. Rabey Hasani Nadvi is the President of the AIMPLB. Kalbe Sadiq, Jalaluddin Umri, Fakhruddin Ashraf, Sayeed Ahmed Oomeri are Vice Presidents of the board. Syed Md. Wali Rahmani is the General Secretary and Prof. Riaz Umar is the Treasurer of the Board.

Executive Committee

The executive committee of the AIMPLB consists of 51 members. Out of 51 members, 35 members are elected by the members of the board, and 15 members are nominated by the President. The executive committee of the board will meet twice a year.

Powers of the Executive Committee

The powers of the executive committee are stated as below:

  • The Executive Committee shall implement the resolutions adopted by the Board and take measures to achieve the objectives of the Board.
  • It shall have the power to make by-laws.
  • It shall also have the power to form sub-committees for protecting the Sharia laws.

Who can be the Head of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board

The President of the Board is considered the Head of the Board. Usually, the President belongs to the Deobandi/Nadvi school of the Sunni sect. The Vice President is elected from the Shia sect. However, Ahmadis are not represented on the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. 

Controversiers surrounding the All India Muslim Personal Law Board

AIMPLB has been in constant controversies because it opposed many decisions of the Supreme Court. Such judgments of the Supreme Court are stated below:

  • Triple talaq case – In this case, the Supreme Court held the process of triple talaq unconstitutional. AIMPLB expressed that the Court should not interfere with the Muslim personal laws. The AIMPLB has argued that uncodified Muslim personal law is not subject to constitutional judicial review and that triple talaq is an essential practice of the Islamic religion and protected under Article 25 of the Constitution. The board feels that the court interfered in the Muslim personal laws because the government wants to introduce Uniform Civil Code in India.  
  • Hijab ban case – In this case, the Court held that wearing of Hijab is not an essential religious practice. The board felt that the court laid too much emphasis on propositions that result in discrimination, exclusion, and overall deprivation of a class from the mainstream public education system apart from the fact it seriously encroaches upon an individual’s sacrosanct religious belief. The Board believed that wearing of Hijab is deemed to be compulsory under the Islamic laws which if not followed will become a sin.

Criticisms toward the All India Muslim Personal Law Board

All India Muslim Personal Law Board has faced a lot of criticism for its decisions due to the rigid nature of the board. The Board opposed decriminalizing homosexual acts. The Board was against the decision of the Supreme Court as it considered such acts irreligious and unnatural. It is considered that the gay community will have a negative impact on society. The Board has also rejected inter-caste marriages as they believe that such marriages are regretful and unfortunate. It suggested that the representatives of mosques and madrassas across the nation must take steps to prevent inter-caste marriages. Such marriages are not legal under Sharia laws.

The Board also did not support the increase of the marriage age for women. The government wanted to increase the age of women to 21 years but the board opposed it saying that marriage is a choice and so the age for marriage should not be fixed. It felt that the government was interfering with the personal liberty of the person by imposing such a decision. The Board also opposed the decision of the government to make yoga compulsory in schools. It is believed that imposing such activity can hamper the secularism of the Constitution. 

Conclusion 

All India Muslim Personal Law Board was established in 1973 to preserve the culture of Islam in India. Since then it has been working to protect the Sharia laws. The Board claims that it protects the rights of the Muslims, but it only represents the Sunni sect rather than the whole community. The Board does not consider the rights of women. It forms various committees so that its aims and objectives are well maintained. AIMPLB has interfered in many cases and supported the Muslims. The Board has faced a lot of criticism due to its decisions on various matters like the Triple Talaq. The Board was formed to preserve Islam, but it is no longer looking over the community and only is worried about its existence. The board has always tried to oppose the Uniform Civil Code which could benefit the Muslim community.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Can the Government of India dissolve the All India Muslim Personal Law Board or at least make sure that the Muslims are represented properly?

Government cannot shut down the AIMPLB merely because it does not like its opinions. The government cannot interfere in the working of the AIMPLB unless it is involved in illegal matters.

What is the All India Muslim Personal Board?

AIMPLB is a non-governmental organization that works for supporting the rights of Muslims. It aims to preserve Muslim personal law

Why does India, being a secular country, need the All India Muslim Personal Law Board?

Even though India is a secular country, Muslims believe that their lives should be regulated by the principles of Islam and not by a uniform code. Muslims want to be represented by a body that understands the community and can secure their rights.

What are the drawbacks of the Muslim personal law in India?

The AIMPLB is not very progressive when it comes to the rights of women. The Ban on triple talaq was not supported by them. 

What is the take on the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s decision to boycott the Uniform Civil Code and challenge a ban on triple talaq in the Supreme Court of India?

AIMPLB has been hesitant about giving equal rights to women. A ban on triple talaq would mean that women can live freely and exercise their rights which AIMPLB does not want. AIMPLB has been working to preserve the personal laws of Muslims, so Uniform Civil Code would mean losing the personal laws, and that is against the aims of AIMPLB.

Why does the All India Muslim Personal Law Board want to file a review petition on the Ayodhya verdict?

AIMPLB filed the review petition against the Babri Masjid-Ram-Janmabhoomi dispute case as it believed that the judgment contained some errors. It believed that building the same mosque at some other site in situations like this is not permissible as per Islamic Law. 

What is the view on the move by the All India Muslim Law Board’s announcement of establishing Sharia courts in India?

In the view of the Supreme Court, the whole country should be regulated by uniform courts which are already existing as per the Constitution of India. It stated that there is no need to establish Sharia courts for separate enforcement of Muslim personal law. Uniformity must be maintained throughout the country, so that equal treatment is given to all people of different religions.

References 


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