Sunday, February 26, 2012

Proposed changes in Indian Muslim Personal Laws

With a few exceptions, no group of humans has ever jumped and yielded to the demands of the rulers or majorities to change. There is a strong record of resistance to such a change, however, changes have come to be accepted and sustained through persuasion and referencing scriptures.

No one likes a change, not even you, the reader of this article. You will tell me to go to hell if I told you to change the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the smile you have on your face or the way your talk. If we allow anyone to dictate changes, it amounts to forcing everyone in the society to change by the one who holds the laathi (the one who owns the Cain), owns the water buffalo.

There are plenty of stories of brave men and women in just every religious, ethnic, and nationalistic group where they fought the proposed changes valiantly and at times committed suicide en masse rather than surrender to the rulers. The exceptions are also there in China and Russia where religions were suppressed but when Russia splintered, religion surfaced right back.

The banishment of Sati, a practice where a Hindu widowed woman would throw herself into her husband’s funeral pyre and immolate to death, succeeded not because of the Mogul and British rulers, but because of the wisdom and persuasive Hindu leadership presenting alternate meaning of the scriptures.

The dawn of the 19th century produced two great Hindu thinkers and reformers; Swami Sahajanand who argued that the practice of Sati was not Vedic but a product of 4th century kings, and Raja Rammohan Roy, who saw his own sister-in-law forced to commit Sati, which prompted him to take up the issue strongly and go on a campaign of writing and quoting scriptures. Finally the practice was outlawed in 1829 and it is rarely practiced since then.

Now coming to the Muslim personal laws, the scriptures do not support triple Talaq in one sitting, it is suppose to be three periods of waiting to make sure the woman is not pregnant and more importantly, it gives the time for a couple to rethink and re-align before they make that final decision.
Hilla, a docudrama illustrates the point well.

Indeed, in the United States, which is more Islamic than most Muslim nations, it takes 90 days to finalize the divorce proceedings after it is filed, just as the Qur’aan calls for it.

Permitting a man to marry four wives was rather a severe restriction at a time when men were marrying and divorcing women with no restrictions, this was the norm in most societies. Indeed, the restriction was a sign of change, a move to adapt to the needs of the society when Men to women ratio was lopsided. In the Indian context there are reports showing more Hindu men having a second woman than Muslim men having two wives.

The second part of the equation was prompted by the need for social justice, where women were forced to be single through wars and deaths of their spouse, father, brother or other financial supporter. A thousand years ago, women were dependent in all societies and in such cases, they only option dumped on them was to sell their flesh, as men in all societies look at a single women with ill-intent. It was to uplift the dignity of woman, that polygamy was permitted, it was for social justice and not lust.

Muslims are as open to change as any one, so we have to take steps and quote the scriptures in support of the change.

I suggest the Muslim organizations to hold symposiums, debates and conferences, and give a genuine room to people who have opposing views. We are holding a Sharia symposium in Dallas and inviting the nation’s foremost anti-Sharia activists along with the scholars. Let’s sincerely table the issue and find lasting solutions; when we bring the yes men who support our views, we fail in our integrity and our obligation to find the truth. We need to be inclusive of opposing views to find genuine solutions.

Prophet Muhammad has set a variety of examples in handling different situations. When he asked an opinion on an issue, he asked it to be different than what prevailed at that moment. There is a difference when you ask for support and ask an opinion, in the former you ask them to say yes to your opinion, in the latter you want to know if there is another point of view. Indeed, he accepted opinions of his associates even though they were different than his own during the battles of Trench and Uhud.

Let’s bring a closure to this gnawing problem that is constantly biting Muslims every few years.

Response to the Editorial in Indian Express

Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker and a writer and his work is linked to thirty blogs and four websites indexed at

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.