//Clerics point to Islamic courts

Clerics point to Islamic courts

Deepak Gidwani, Thursday, DNAINDIA.COM. November 02, 2006

Criticise Centre’s stand in the SC on the legality of Darul Qaza

LUCKNOW: The Centre’s stand on Shariat or Islamic courts has sparked off a severe backlash from respected Muslim clerics here holding important positions in the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).

“If Sikhs’ panchayats in Punjab have sanctity, why should the same respectability be denied to Darul Qaza (Islamic courts),” asked Shia cleric Kalbe Sadiq. “The government should first tackle the corruption in the courts and try to clear the huge backlog of cases before pointing a finger at the Darul Qaza,” he told reporters.

The sharp reaction has come in response to the stand the Centre has taken in the Supreme Court on the issue. In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the Centre has said that the Islamic courts had no legal sanctity and their verdict could not be imposed. The affidavit says that the ‘fatwas’ issued by the ‘muftis’ were only advisory in nature and even those asking for such advice were not bound to obey them.

Maulana Kalbe Sadiq sounded peeved as he said the matter was being deliberately politicised by vested interests. He described Darul Qazas as “helping courts”, adding that they were only trying to settle “small family matters” so that they don’t go to court “where justice invariably gets delayed for years”.

“This is a completely legal process… the Darul Qazas are not acting against the law of the land,” he said. The Maulana, however, criticised the ‘fatwas’ being issued indiscriminately by certain “irresponsible” ‘muftis’, and those issued for money.

Reacting as strongly, AIMPLB member and Lucknow’s Naib Imam Maulana Khalid Rasheed ‘Firangi Mehli’ told DNA: “The Shariat courts take up basic matters like namaz, roza, nikah and talaq, which are related to Islam… nobody should have any objection to that. Moreover, it is a voluntary system… no one is forced to go to Darul Qaza or obey its verdict.”

Referring to the Imrana case, he said such family matters are mostly referred to Darul Qazas. “These courts have never claimed to be an alternate legal system independent of the law of the land,” he said. “Fatwa is only an opinion through which the mufti explains the person asking a question what the Shariat says regarding that particular situation… the AIMPLB has always said that fatwas are not binding, then why this controversy now,” asks a visibly upset Zafaryab Jilani, legal advisor of the AIMPLB.

“People are free to go to court against the fatwa like in the Imrana case… then where is the contradiction with the Indian law? Some people are deliberately raking up the issue for political mileage,” he told DNA.