Sunday, 3 September 2006

Arab marriages: Hyderabadi Muslim clergy launch campaign

September 3, 2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 2: Faced with sharp criticism for their failure to contain ever-increasing menace of Arab marriages in the State, Muslim religious leaders have decided to launch a mass awareness campaign in the community through Friday sermons in mosques.
Moulvis and Muslim elders will henceforth exhort the devout in various mosques in the State, particularly twin cities, against marrying off their young daughters to foreign nationals without proper verification of their antecedents. The Friday sermons will also focus on social evils that have crept into the Muslim society including dowry, bride harassment and misuse of the provisions on divorce.
Information Minister Muhammad Ali Shabbir held discussions with some Muslim religious leaders in the wake of resurfacing of Arab marriages in old city last month. He has already roped in the Jamiat Ulema-e- Hindi into the campaign. Senior Islamic scholar Moulana Hameeduddin Aquil has also agreed to join the mass awareness movement to free the Muslim society from dowry, which is mainly responsible for Arab marriages. On an average three Arab marriages are performed in the city every day.
"At the government level we cannot do anything on religious matters since people will think it as an interference in their personal law. So we thought it better to involve senior religious leaders to fight against social evils," Shabbir told this correspondent.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind has already completed its first round of 92 meetings all over the State including a couple of religious sermons in twin cities. "We accepted the idea mooted by the minister since it is good for the community. Besides taking up the campaign on the issue, we also demand that the government implement the conditions on Arab marriages prepared way back in 1994. It was agreed upon then that an Arab national willing to marry an Indian girl should deposit one lakh Riyals with the Indian government and produce no objection certificate as well as police antecedents from their respective governments," Jamiat State president Hafiz Peer Shabbir Ahmad pointed out.
Though the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board is not directly concerned with the issue, it has taken up a campaign against dowry and Arab marriages. Says its secretary Abdul Rahim Qureshi, "according to Islamic Shariah a man marrying woman should hold the intention of keeping the wedlock for life. It is sin on his part to marry with the intention of deserting or divorcing woman after a particular period. Under Shariah even the Qazi who performs such marriages is liable for punishment".
The Muslim Personal Law Board as also the Jamat-e-Islami Hindi have launched similar campaigns against social evils in Muslim society. Since most of the affected parents in case of Arab marriages are illiterate, Muslim organisations have decided to bring awareness through sermons rather than through print media.

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