Muslim Personal Law Board suspends its women’s wing; faces criticism

Members have alleged that the move was prompted by the differences between the executive members with women members over their board’s position on the hijab row.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has dissolved its women’s wing after seven years of its formation. The body is now being criticised strongly by several members publicly complaining of the move as ‘unfair and unjust’.

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Members have alleged that the move was prompted by the differences between the executive members with women members over their board’s position on the hijab row.

Women’s wing convenor Dr Asma Zehra, received a letter on October 11 from AIMPLB general secretary, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani informing her that the wing was suspended, stopping her from holding any program under the wing banner. Social media accounts used by the wing members were also asked to be deleted, the letter said.

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Executive member Qasim Rasool Ilyas, in a report by the Times of India, however, said that the wing was suspended temporarily for the board to study its mandate, and will be functional again. When asked about the reason for the dissolution of the wing, Qasim Rasool Ilyas said that the wing members carried out activities like teaching women sewing, tailoring, and stitching and also started giving scholarships to students which is not a part of the board’s purview.

In an open letter, Tahniyat Ather, a member of the board from Hyderabad, said that the wing was dissolved since the men were unhappy and the board was thus considered the board male and maulvi dominated. The board has over 251 general members, of which about 30 are women. Its executive committee, which is the governing body, has 51 members and about five women members.

“We do not know what happened, and we were not informed of the decision. We were actively working, and are shocked by the decision. I won’t be able to say more at this point,” Ather said.

The board suspended the wing on recommendations of a four-membered enquiry committee formed in March 2022. Many members including senior committee members called AIMPLB’s decision arbitrary and unilateral.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Dr. Shaista Amber, founder, and president of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board said that the disbanding was shameful. “This is very unfortunate; the talent and the freedom of our sisters have been stopped. This move goes against the grain of gender equality, and is shameful,” she said.

Zakia Soman of the Bharatiya Muslim Andolan, also a petitioner in the triple talaq case, said that the move exposes the true face of the board. “The board has lost its relevance after women took matters into their own hands; they have no connections with women’s rights and equality and they work to create impediments to women’s rights. The board serves to maintain the status quo,” Soman said.

“I don’t regard the women’s wing much either as they stand for women to be treated as second-class citizens of society,” she added.


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