India’s SC sharia ruling draws sharp reaction

NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court's verdict on Monday declaring that a sharia court has no legal sanction drew sharp reaction from Muslim clerics who said that the constitution allows them the right to work and act according to Muslim personal law, the Press Trust of India news service reported.

“We are not doing anything parallel to the judicial system and we don't say that any order passed by a Qazi is binding on all. Our sole motto is to resolve a matter with the consent of two parties involved in accordance with sharia," said Zafaryab Jilani, member of the Muslim Personal Law Board.

Under the constitution, Muslims have right to work and act according to Muslim personal law, said Khalid Rasheed Farangi, a cleric. “Indian Constitution has given us the right to act and work according to our Muslim law,” he said. He also said that that the verdict needs to be studied properly before a final statement can be given.

"One must also keep in mind that Sharia Application Act, 1937, has very clearly said that in those cases in which both parties are Muslims and the matter is related to nikaah, talaaq, zihar, lian, khula and mubaraat, the decisions will be taken in the light of the Muslim personal law," he said.

Kul Hind Imam Association president Maulana Mohammad Sajid Rashid said that the plea filed in the apex court was itself wrong as it was a religious matter. “If a person is practicing a religion, he/she has to follow its preaching. A Muslim who does not follow the sharia is not a true Muslim,” he said.

Patna’s Imarat Shariah member Maulana Anisur Rehman agreed with the apex court ruling, saying the judgment was not wrong and it was not going to hinder the functioning of sharia courts. "For arbitration, when two parties or people consensually approach the sharia court, it is lawful. The Supreme Court is not wrong, but I need to go through the entire verdict properly,” he said.

Disapproving of a sharia court issuing fatwa and order against a person who is not before it, the Supreme Court said it has no sanction of law and no legal status.

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