Many Muslims in India claim to be citizens with equal rights, but when the time for the institutionalization of equality presents itself, they take steps against equality and rush to protect their privilege. Writes Ashlyn Davis
Many Muslims in India claim to be citizens with equal rights, but when the time for the institutionalization of equality presents itself, they take steps against equality and rush to protect their privilege. It’s the privilege no one talks about: Muslim privilege.
India finds itself torn in the debate around the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). The UCC is a proposal to formulate and implement secular personal laws which would apply equally to all citizens, regardless of their religion. You have already guessed which community largely opposes it.
Back in 2019 and 2020, when the CAA was introduced, and talks regarding the National Register of Citizens (NRC) had gained momentum, Muslims from all walks of life demanded that Muslims from the countries neighboring India be included in both the acts. Their demands were rooted in the claim of being “equal citizens” of India. Inflammatory speeches by Muslim activists led to anti-Hindu riots in the capital city.
However, Muslim religious and social bodies can now be seen making a full reversal on their much-touted “equality as an Indian” claims, and have aggressively opposed any progress towards the implementation of the UCC. They want to be treated differently and lead their lives as per Islamic law, despite being citizens of a secular republic. Leaders of political parties catering to Muslim interests, Muslim activists accused of inciting riots, and “elites” from the entertainment industry have unanimously denounced the UCC and are fiercely safeguarding their Muslim privilege.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) rejected the Law Commission’s questionnaire on the UCC and decided to boycott it. The AIMPLB General Secretary, Maulana Wali Rehmani, viewed the UCC as divisive and claimed that it would lead to unrest in the country. He stated: “It is against the spirit of the Constitution, which safeguards the right of citizens to practice their culture and religion.” Part IV of the Indian Constitution lists the Directive Principles of State Policy, under which Article 44 declares, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a UCC throughout the territory of India.”
In 2017, Maulana Arshad Madni, the President of Jamaat-e-Islami, said, “The Muslim Personal Law is based on Quran and Hadith and we cannot alter it,” and accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to “impose dictatorship in the name of democracy.”
Recently, a television personality, Gauahar Khan, lost her temper on a Twitter user who questioned the separate set of laws for Muslims. Calling the Twitter user a “loser,” Khan said, “I’m a Muslim, and nobody can ban us from having our rights, India is secular, it’s a democracy, not a dictatorship like u would desire!”
Her bigoted tweet was challenged by a Supreme Court advocate who educated her on the factual implication of rights in a democracy and emphasized that barbaric Islamic practices such as nikah halala or muta marriages have no place in a modern democracy. Khan, who had once claimed that “in Islam, the woman is described at not above nor below a man, it’s next to him, so she can be close to his heart,” couldn’t find an explanation for the pre-medieval practices that the lawyer listed.
It is safe to conclude that this dissent towards the proposed law stems from a dominating sense of entitlement that has been engendered by the Muslim-pandering parties that have been governing India for 70 years. There are many religious minorities in India, including Christians and Sikhs. There are micro-minorities such as Jains, Buddhists and Zoroastrians as well. But the privilege that comes with belonging to a minority community has remained reserved for the second-largest religious group in the country, the Muslims. And it may be politically incorrect, but is nonetheless true that the maximum resistance to any of the government’s policies directed at restoring equality of rights of all people before the law comes from only one group.
Many Muslims want their obsolete practices to continue. Let the Muslim man have four wives at once. While the minimum age requirement for a woman to marry in India is 18, Muslim political leaders keep asserting that a Muslim woman can get married as soon as she reaches puberty. Then she can start procreating and serve the goal of dominating the nation demographically. If government policies contradict this privilege, they will be detested as an interference with Islamic law.
Interestingly, these Muslims in India want to be tried as per Islamic rules concerning “personal law” only. They do not support the full implementation of Islamic law for Muslims in India, which would include the amputation of hands for theft and robbery.
In the infamous 2012 Delhi gang-rape, 17-year-old Mohammed Afroz was found to be the most brutal of all the convicts. He had inserted a metal rod in the victim’s private parts and pulled out her intestines. But the secular law protected this “minor,” who was sentenced to only three years in prison (the maximum imprisonment for a minor according to the law at that time), giving him a cash award, a change of identity, and a job after his release. Muslims don’t invoke Islamic law in such cases, because that would mean the death penalty for such an offender, regardless of his age. You get the idea: call for the application of secular law when secular law protects Muslims, and rally behind Islamic law when Islamic law furthers Muslim interests.
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