Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Imrana case: Hyderabad muftis differ with their counterparts in the North

A wife continues to be wife even after she is raped by a close relative or an outsider and sexual assualt on a woman will not nullify her wedlock

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 28: A wife continues to be wife even after she is raped by a close relative or an outsider and sexual assualt on a woman will not nullify her wedlock, says a noted city mufti.
Reacting sharply to a fatwa (religious decree) issued by Darul Uloom, Deoband, against a woman raped by her father-in-law, Mufti Muhammad Omar Abedin told this correspondent that a victim of rape would continue to enjoy all legal rights as a wife, since she is not at fault. The Deoband fatwa declared that the woman was illegal for her husband and he should divorce her.
"Islam is silent on the issue. There's no reference in the Holy Quran or in the Hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet). The common opinion among Islamic scholars is that a victim of rape should not be denied her rights. In case of rape, the woman is not a fault. The issue is quite different if she commits adultery", observes Mufti Omar, who is also the general secretary of the Centre for Peace and True Message.
Dealing with the rape case of housewife Imrana, Mufti Habibur Rahman of Darul Uloom held that since she was raped by her father-in-law she had become "haram" (prohibited) to her husband Noor Ilahi. The fatwa ironically comes in the wake of Imrana's decision to live with her husband.
According to Mufti Omar, scholars adhering to Shafai and Maliki schools of Islamic jurisprudence do not nullify a wedlock even if the rapist is a close relative. Imrana's case falls under this category. Even in the Hanafi and Hanbali schools, the opinion is divided.
He also found fault with some scholars referring the case to the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board. "How can they refer it to the board. The issue invoved is of Islamic jurisprudence and nothing to do with the personal law", he pointed out.
The Mufti denies allegations that Islam is anti-woman. Muslim women are allowed to do "tawaf" (circumambulation) around the Holy Kaba in Mecca along with men. They are also allowed inside Masjid-al-Haram, Islam's holiest shrine. Same is the case with the Prophet's mosque in Madina. There is no bar on women offering prayers in mosques and many mosques in twin cities have provided special facilities for women.
Referring to the Nikahnama, he said since marriage is an agreement between man and wife, all that is agreed upon at the time of Nikah will hold good.

Sunday, 19 June 2005

Indian Hajis put to trouble in the holy city of Mecca

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 19: About 18,000 Indian Hajis have been put to inconvenience in the Islamic holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia with the Central Haj Committee denying them accommodation as promised.
The Hajis, who opted for Category-A accommodation, were given buildings at Sheesha about three to four km away from the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The cost of Category-A accommodation is Rs 89,000 and for stay at Sheesha is Rs 69,000.
The Indian Hajis on Monday held a demonstration in the holy city demanding accommodation as promised as stay at Sheesha will make it difficult for them to walk to the Grand Mosque for prayers five times a day. The Haj Committee simply washed off its hands saying that its duty had ended with the Hajis boarding the flight to Mecca.
"There is not much a problem. The Hajis who opted for Category-A could not be accommodated near the Sacred Mosque due to unforeseen circumstances," State Haj Committee chairman Hafiz Peer Shabbir Ahmed. He said the difference in accommodation fee would be refunded on return to India.
The problem arose because of the delay in paying the rentals to the building owners in Mecca. While Haj panels of other countries make on the spot payment to building owners, Indian Haj Mission makes delayed payment i.e. after collecting the money from the Hajis. With other countries booking buildings in the vicinity of Ka'ba, Indian Hajis were left with no choice other than taking shelter in Sheesha and Azizia.
According to sources, Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy has dashed off a letter to Union Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed and following this the Centre has agreed to make the payments first on its behalf and then take the reimbursement from the Haj Committee of India.
Indian Consul-General in Jeddah Dr Ausaf Sayeed said minor hiccups in transportation on December 17 have since been sorted out with the Saudi authorities and transport providers and the round-the-clock transportation service is now running very smoothly.
Dr Ausaf Sayeed and Dr Suhel Ajaz Khan, Haj consul, are now camping in Mecca to closely monitor the transportation and other arrangements along with other senior officials of Indian Haj Mission.
"The situation is absolutely under control and there is no reason to panic.
A large number of buildings nearby Haram Sharif (Grand Mosque) have been demolished in the past few years in order to expand the praying area for the growing number of pilgrims visiting the Holy city. The number of pilgrims this year is expected to be 3.5 million. As a result of this, there is acute shortage of accommodation in the immediate vicinity of the Haram Sharif," Dr Ausaf told this correspondent in an email message.
This year about 18000 pilgrims from all the Indian States, who had applied for Category A or I accommodation, have been reallocated in Sheesha area.
Another 9,159 pilgrims of category-B or II have been reassigned to the nearby Azizia area. After the incident, the Indian Haj Mission has ensured that transportation is provided from the place of the stay to the Holy Mosque.
The Consul-General admitted that there have been some congestion and minor delays in transportation during the peak hours, especially after the Isha (night) prayers. "This is unavoidable as a result of the movement of a large number of pilgrims of several countries to and fro from the Holy mosque. More than 2,50,000 pilgrims are living in the Sheesha and Azizia areas, including pilgrims from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Indonesia, Morocco, Bahran and UAE," he pointed out.
Senior officials of the Consulate General of India are in touch with officials of the South Asian Moassasa to work out the "stoning of the devil" schedule for the Indian pilgrims assigned to various Saudi Maktabs.

Friday, 17 June 2005

Maoist violence: Centre chalks out strategy

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 17: Chief Ministers of all the 13 Naxal-infested States in the country will form themselves into a standing committee to devise strategies from time to time to fight Maoist and other Left wing extremist violence.
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil will be the chairperson of the standing committee of chief ministers. Joint task force operations will be conducted by affected States to prevent movement of Naxalites from one State to another. This in effect means police of one Naxal infested State can enter the territory of another Naxal-infested State without prior permission of the State concerned.
Chief Secretaries and directors-general of police of Naxal-hit States met in the city on Friday under the chairmanship of Union Home Secretary VK Duggal to discuss the problem of and find solution to Naxalism. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy participated in the inaugural function.
The meeting categorised Naxal-infested States into two categories based on the scale of violence by Maoists and other Naxal bodies. The States where the Naxal movement is active and violence quite frequent are Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and Maharashtra. States like West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Kerala, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have been classified as "States with sporadic violence".
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Duggal said none of the States suggested a nation-wide ban on Naxalites as they saw Naxalism more of a socio-economic problem rather than a police or unidemensional or internal security issue. The meeting discussed the socio-economic steps taken up by various States and the Centre's intervention in development of backward areas, land reforms, forest rights, employment and education. "We would like to treat Naxals as a misguided lot", he said.
Duggal said Naxal violence had come down considerably in the country in the past one year. There were only 768 Naxal violent incident during 2004-2005 as against 884 incidents during 2003-2004.
The meeting decided to go in for joint operations, sharing of intelligence and joint task forces in active naxal belts. Mine protective and bullet proof vehicles will be procured for combing operations.
To a question, he said local people might be involved in fighting against Naxalites. The State government will take up development of neglected areas and take up economic programmes involving the local population to wean them away from the movement.
He said a common model could not be evolved for the entire country as the problem differs from State to State. It has to be tackled at the State level.
Duggal pointed out that State governments might utilise the services of jungle warfare from the Army to train their police force. At present 24 battalions of central forces consisting of 24,000 police personnel are on anti-Naxal duty in the country. Andhra Pradesh will get one more battalion. It has at present four battalions fighting against Naxalites in the State.

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Syed Akbar in an island in river Godavari with Papikonda hills in the background

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Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity