IS INDIA’S MAINSTREAM MEDIA FINALLY COMING TO TERMS WITH ISLAMIC INFLUENCES INEVITABLY IMPACTING INDIAN SOCIETY AND ITS INSTITUTIONS?
Sunday Times of India published on single day, 3 stories that positively treat signs of Indian institutions picking up Islamic influences with far reaching consequences for the composite society.
1. Left led Kerala govt to start bank on Sharia principles
2. Hindu students shine in Madarsas
3. Bigamy: An issue of one too many:
Muslims bigamy cases far fewer than Hindus. Muslims give full and equal legal protection to their wives. Hindus do not. Hindu laws may borrow from Sharia to give better rights to Hindu women, including easy divorce, legal status and equality to wives in cases of bigamous marriage.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai
Left-led Kerala govt to start a bank on Sharia principles
Ananthakrisnan G | TNN
Thiruvananthapuram: The CPM-led Kerala government wants to establish a financial institution compliant with Sharia laws and later convert it into a a full-fledged bank. Work on the project is on and the new entity is likely to start functioning from March 2010.
“We commissioned a feasibility study by Ernst and Young and as per the recommendations, a financial institution working under the Sharia principles will be set up,’’ industries secretary T Balakrishnan told TOI. The Kerala State Industries Development Corporation, a state government agency, will have 11% stake in the body.
Finance minister T M Thomas Issac told the assembly earlier this week that the venture will have an authorised share capital of Rs 1,000 crore. “KSIDC will also have two permanent directors in the new business model which will have a total of 12 directors,’’ Balakrishnan said, adding that a core group headed by businessman Mohammadali of Gulfar Group had been constituted to give the project its final shape. “By March, we hope to complete all formalities and begin operations by the next financial year,’’ he added.
“There will also be a body of Islamic scholars to advise the entity on whether it was complying with laws laid down by Sharia,’’ the secretary said. He said that under current RBI guidelines, an Islamic bank wasn’t feasible and that was why a financial institution was planned. “We want to convert it into a bank with pan-India presence at a later stage.’’
He added, “World over, there have been experiments with alternate financial models especially after the recent recession. There is also economic demand for the product as we’ve a fairly large Muslim population. If the community is happy with a system they feels is fair and inclusive, then why not.’’
Hindu students shine in madrassas
Faizan Ahmad | TNN
Patna: Are madrassas meant only for Muslim students? Far from it, if results of Bihar State Madrassa Examination Board are anything to go by. Pooja Kumari, Preetam Kumari, Priyanka Kumari and Surya Narayan Sah — all students of Madrassa Islamia, Sandalpur in Araria district — are among 100 Hindu girls and boys who have passed different grade exams conducted by BSMEB this year. The results of the madrassa board for Maulvi, Fauqania and Wastania grade exams, declared last week, showed that about a hundred non-Muslim students have passed these exams.
Board authorities, who could provide list of non-Muslim candidates of only Fauqania exam, said 37 of them have passed. They include Sanjay Kumar of Madrassa Islamia, Khardaur, Sanam Kumari and Sandhya Kumari of Madrassa Rahmania, Joktia (both in West Champaran), Rupa Bharti of Madrassa Munamia, Balia (Begusarai) and Anita Kumari of Madrassa Faiyazul Uloom (Chhapra).
‘‘All non-Muslim examinees were regular students of madrassas,’’ board chairman Maulana Ejaz Ahmad told TOI. He said he spoke to parents of many such students who said education at madrassas was better and their wards were more disciplined. In fact, the second generation of a former legislator is getting madrassa education, he added.
This year Muslim girls both outnumbered and outshone boys in madrassa exam in Fauqania (equivalent to matric) and Wastania (equivalent to middle). ‘‘That more girls are joining madrassa and pursuing education is an encouraging trend,’’ Ahmad said. He said enrolment of Muslim girls in all districts has risen.
RELIGION NO BAR: About 100 Hindu students have cleared the Bihar madrassa board exam with flying colours
BIGAMY: AN ISSUE OF ONE TOO MANY
More Hindus take two wives than Muslims, according to a survey. Surprised? It’s been that way for more than 30 years
Divya A | TNN
The Law Commission recently recommended a good way to prevent a married Hindu man from taking another wife: Deeming such a marriage illegal even if he converted to Islam before he wed a second time.
That Law Commission report, ‘Preventing Bigamy via Conversion to Islam’, essentially highlighted an important and little-known truth — namely that more Hindus than Muslims commit bigamy.
This has been true for more than a quarter of a century. In 1974, a government survey found Muslims to account for 5.6% of all bigamous marriages and upper-caste Hindus accounting for 5.8%. The difference may appear to be small but it is big, in real terms. The 1971 census records 45.3 crore Hindus and six crore Muslims. Allowing for women and children to make up 65% of each group, as many as one crore Hindu men had more than one wife in 1971, compared to 12 lakh Muslim men.
The trend continues, says sociologist Asghar Ali Engineer, head of Mumbai’s Institute of Islamic Studies. “The survey was conducted on a large sample in all parts of India and the report wasn’t made public. Further, polygamy was higher in South India than in the north, and more so among rich and middle-classHindus than the poorer sections.”
Go back still further – to 1961 – and the census records polygamy to be highest among adivasis, Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus, with Muslims right at the end. Engineer says the law matters only up to a point. “With both survey results coming out after the Hindu Marriage Act was passed in 1955, it shows that bigamy is basically a problem of a maledominant culture than religion.”
Bigamy disadvantages Hindu women more than Muslim, says Chandigarh sociologist Nirmal Sharma. This, because a Hindu man will desert his lawfully wedded wife to live with another, while the multiple wives of Muslim men are entitled to equal legal and social rights. “Closet bigamy in Hindus is worse than open polygamy among Muslims,” he says.
Fiza alias Anuradha Bali, who married Haryana’s deputy CM after the pair converted to Islam, says, “Our laws were far more liberal in ancient times. Most kings and many of our mythological figures had more than one wife.” Though Chand has converted back to Hinduism, Fiza insists she remains his “customary wife while the first one remains the legally-wedded one. There is no way to get out of a dual marriage in spite of a legal ban.”
Supreme Court lawyer Praveen Agarwal cautions that Hindu bigamists often go scot free because “the courts can do little until there’s a formal complaint.” And this is not always possible because in many cases, the two wives don’t even know of each other’s existence, says Agarwal. He adds that it is relatively easy for a Hindu man to remarry because temples don’t hold records. “However, if the matter goes to court, the second marriage is declared null and void.”
Take the case of K Suryanarayana, the Indian engineer killed in Afghanistan, who left behind a second wife and daughter. Though she laid claim to compensation from the government, the court ruled in favour of the first wife.
Agarwal suggests that stringent and time-consuming Hindu divorce may force many men to resort to bigamy. “Instead of going in for long-drawn-out and financially debilitating divorce procedures, men simply desert the first wife and marry again.”
Engineer says that bigamy is not as rampant among Muslims as believed. The Quran only offers conditional permission for a man to take four wives: in times ofwar or a crisis that sees women outnumber men. “The 2001 census found 935 females for every 1000 males in India. Among Muslims, it was 930: 1000. So it would be difficult to find even one wife for every man,” he says. Engineer says polygamy will never cease to exist. Perhaps it’s better to regulate it, he says.