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Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Nikahnama Drafted by Women

A standard Nikahnama could be a serious issue to think about on Woman's Day in Pakistan. I have not seen the one mentioned in the news report but if it does not have the following two conditions already then perhaps they can be debated and added:

1: A mandatory blood test prior to marriage to test for HIV Aids and other terminal and serious diseases for both the parties to the contract.

2: A written right for the woman to be able to divorce the man, should things not work out.

New nikahnama to end harassment -Manjari Mishra

LUCKNOW: After three years of effort, there's fi nally a woman-friendly nikhanama drafted essentially by women scholars and activists. On March 16, the 12-page 'Sharai Nikahnama' scripted in Hindi and Urdu — and applicable to both Shias and Sunnis (which have separate nikahnamas) — is all set to go public at a specially convened meeting of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) here.

Brainchild of AIMWPLB president Shaista Ambar and a 30-member executive body, the 'jihadi nikahnama' — as it is being decried by Muslim clerics — has generated much speculation in the community. The AIMWPLB had begun the exercise on February 2, 2005, in presence of a handful of its supporters. The final outcome, likely to ruffle many a privileged feather, may not go down well with Muslim hardliners, too.

But Ambar, who set up the splinter body after rebelling against the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) — the highest body of ulema in the country — for its "distinct gender bias", remains unfazed. "We've merely attempted to give succour to wronged women and make marital homes more secure. But, care has been taken to ensure that each written word comes straight from Quran," she told TOI on Friday.

The boldest part of the nikahnama is the clause which makes marriage registration compulsory. While AIMPLB merely dragged its feet on the contentious issue last week during its annual convention in Kolkata, Ambar says registration before proper government authority has been made a prime condition.

At the receiving end of the concerted ire of maulvis for the last five years, Ambar takes care to cushion the punch. "Taking nikahnama sworn before the qazi to be the final word has led to much harassment in the past." she said.


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