Remarriage of Kashmir's ‘Half Widows’: Separatist Camp Divided

SRINAGAR: With a word of caution the Hurriyat Conference (G) Saturday stated that it will go through a  religious ruling  passed by a group of Muslim scholars on re-marriage of the ‘half widows’ and will come up with its observation on the subject. 

“We will study the report keenly and only after that we can come up with our analysis over the issue. For now we cannot comment about the topic as the same is very subtle in nature,” said Ayaz Akbar, Chief Spokesman Huriyat (G).

However, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq the chairman of the Huriyat Conference (M) welcomed the ruling saying the issue was very serious and that the unanimous decision passed by the group must be appreciated. “I as the Mirwaiz of Kashmir welcome the judgment and it is indeed a good step taken by the Ulema here,” he said.

Dukhtaran-e-Millat Chairperson Asiya Andrabi has expressed a different opinion. She appealed the ‘half-widows’ (Women whose husbands went missing during  last two decades of conflict) here not to generalize the issue and the same must be limited to the destitute women. “I believe that the ‘half widows’ here must strive for whereabouts of their husbands and must carry forward the movement in unison. The women who are destitute can remarry but the issue must not be generalized at any cost. ”

The recent ruling attains significance as there had been no consensus among the Muslim Ulama of Kashmir over the re-marriage and property rights of the "half widows", a term used for women whose husbands have gone missing during last two decades of conflict and it is not known whether they are dead or alive.

There is no figures available on Kashmir’s half-widows but a report "Half widow, Half Wife? Responding to Gendered Violence in Kashmir" by a key human rights group in the region Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS) estimates the number of ‘half-widows’ at around 1,500.

At the conclusion of third round of consultations over the issue organized by Ehsaas, a civil society initiative, the Ulema (scholars) from different schools of thought representing various institutions and organizations issued a joint statement saying that any ‘half widow’ who intends to re marry can do so after 4 years (as per conditions laid down by Hazrat Imam Malik). They also resolved that the issue of property in respect of the half widows should be resolved in the light of teachings of Holy Quran and Hadith. However, the Ulema said that a detailed edict (Fatwa) would be issued very soon.

Majority of Muslims in Kashmir follow Hanafi school of thought which says a woman has to wait for 90 years to re-marry in case her husband disappeared. 

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