Modi has triggered internal war over uniform civil code: Muslim law board

New Delhi: India’s apex Muslim body hit out at the government on Thursday, accusing the Centre of trying to bring in a uniform civil code (UCC) to nullify Islamic law and destroying the nation’s plurality.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board rejected a questionnaire circulated by the Law Commission --- that asked for public opinion on the UCC -- and said the multiplicity of cultures had to be respected.

“(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi has triggered an internal war in this country. All Muslims will respond to this – in large numbers,” the AIMPLB said. “You can’t impose a single ideology in India.”

The strong comments came roughly a week after the government told the Supreme Court that it opposed the practices of triple talaq and polygamy in the Muslim community, saying gender equality was a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and non-negotiable.

This was the first time the government took a stand against the contentious custom that many women’s groups say is discriminatory. Under Muslim personal law based on the Sharia, a Muslim man can divorce his wife by pronouncing talaq thrice. Muslim men are also allowed to have four wives.

The board said the Constitution had guaranteed them the right to religion and the issue of UCC was a question for every community with diverse practices in India, not just Muslims.

“The UCC is not good for this nation. There’re so many cultures, they have to be respected,” ANI quoted AIMPLB leaders as saying.

“We are living in this country with an agreement held by the Constitution. The Constitution has made us live and practice our religion.We won’t accept the UCC at any cost.”

Many aggrieved women have approached the judiciary for sweeping reforms in the Muslim personal law that they say is heavily tilted against women.

But orthodox Muslim bodies – led by the board – have opposed the reforms, saying that any attempt to do away with traditional practices was a threat to the community’s cultural identity.

India has separate sets of personal laws for each religion governing marriage, divorce, succession, adoption and maintenance. While Hindu law overhaul began in the 1950s and continues, activists have long argued that Muslim personal law has remained mostly unchanged.

But any effort to bring a UCC is often seen by minority groups with suspicion. Many say they fear the UCC will reflect the norms of the majority community and destroy the multiplicity and diversity of smaller groups.



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