By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net,
New Delhi: For the last 25 years India’s premier umbrella Muslim religious organization All India Muslim Personal Law Board has kept establishment of Darul Qaza in the country at its front burner – since its Hyderabad General Conclave in 1985 the organization has resolved in every conclave to establish a nationwide network of Darul Qaza. But it could set up not more than 20 Darul Qaza in 25 years. Did AIMPLB pay just lip service or Muslim society did not take much interest? Both could be true.
AIMPLB adopted resolutions on the issue of Darul Qaza at Hyderabad in 1985, Jaipur in 1993, Hyderabad in 2002 and Munger in 2003. The Resolution No. 4 of the Munger conclave requested AIMPLB President to expand the task of establishing Darul Qaza to cover the whole country and nominate a committee which may strive for and establish Darul Qaza in various cities and regions as per need. As per the Munger resolution, the President constituted a Committee on Darul Qaza, whose convenor is Maulana Ateeq Ahmad Bastavi, teacher at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema. The members of the committee are: Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Ansar Umari, Maulana Ubaidullah Asadi, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani and Maulana Aneesur Rahman Qasmi.
But the pace of establishing Darul Qaza while the number of cases in general courts continued going north (about 3 crore cases in Indian courts today) remained very slow.
“There are currently 15-20 Darul Qazas set up by the Board in the country,” says Waquaruddin Latifi Nadwi, Office Secretary at the Central Office of AIMPLB in Jamia Nagar.
The cities where the Board has set up Darul Qaza include Delhi, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Indore, Azamgarh, Muzaffar Nagar and Rae Bareli. In Delhi they have two (Jamia Nagar and Jafarabad) and in Maharashtra three (Pusad, Mumbra, Thane). While in Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa, the Imarat Shariah has long established its own Darul Qazas, in Karnataka local Imarat Sharia has set up their own though inspired by the Board initiative.
On problems in setting up a Darul Qaza, Waquaruddin says: “We do not have trained Qazis in good number for two reasons. There is no training institute except the one set up by former Board president late Maulana Mujahidul Islam Qasmi at the premises of the Imarat Sharia Bihar in Patna. They run a two-year course to train madrasa graduates as Qazi. Only 8-10 persons are getting training every year. Second reason is madrasa graduates are not willing to take up research work and go through the training of Qazi. Most of these people come from poor background. They need money to keep the life on. So they are forced to opt for other field. If they are given sufficient scholarships and a little certainty regarding future, many can change their mind.”
But what he does not say clearly is that the Board leadership has not chalked out a plan to set Darul Qaza on its own in the entire country in a phased manner.
Moreover, the Board office has little information about whatever Darul Qazas they have set up.
Ask about the number of cases disposed of by these Darul Qazas, the AIMPLB office bearer has not exact figure. “Some Darul Qaza disposes of 25 cases in a year while some other 50 in the same period,” he says.
The absence of information at the Board’s central office even about Darul Qazas set up by it may be because of the system whereby these Darul Qazas are run. The Board does not bear their expenses.
“The Darul Qazas are not financed by the Board. It is set up at the demand of locals. Their expenditure is borne by the locals themselves.” That’s why there is a communication gap.
There is no denying the fact that another reason for lesser number of Darul Qaza is the less demand of people. The Muslim society has little interest in taking their cases to Darul Qaza.
Maulana Muhammad Kamil Qasmi, Qazi, Darul Qaza, Jamia Nagar says: “People are ignorant about Islam and its teachings that can solve their problems. While the informed few have no interest in taking their cases to Darul Qaza.” There is a need to teach the society about the importance of Darul Qaza, he adds.
The data he provides about the cases disposed of by this Darul Qaza substantiates his point.
In the last 25 years (this Darul Qaza was set up in January 1994) he himself has received 300 cases. Jamia Nagar is populated by several lakh Muslims. And it is no one’s guess that thousands and thousands of cases from this area will be pending in general courts – many of them could be solved at Darul Qaza.
A graduate from Deoband, and possessed with the degree of the two-year Qazi training course at Imarat Sharia Bihar, Maulana Qasmi has been rendering his services as Qazi here since this Darul Qaza was opened.
On nature of cases coming to Darul Qaza he says: Generally cases related to dispute between husband and wife prior to Talaq reach Darul Qaza. Sometimes cases related to rearing of children and heritance also come.
How a Darul Qaza takes up a case? Maulana Qasmi says: “A party submits application detailing the case. It is sent to the other party. A joint meeting of both parties is called. A written promise is taken separately from both that they will abide by the ruling. Only then we move ahead.”
Is there any appellate body? No, cases are disposed of at local level. In some specific cases, the General Secretary of the Board could be approached, and he has power to set up a committee to look into the case.
It is disheartening that the Board is not taking the issue of establishing Darul Qaza as its top priority though it resolves to do so in every conclave.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board was established in Hyderabad on April 7, 1973. This was the time when the Indian Government appeared hell-bent to subvert Shariah Law and impose Uniform Civil Code. The Muslim society cutting across schools of thoughts came on a platform and formed the Board to defend Muslim Personal Law.
“To adopt suitable strategies for protection and continued applicability of Muslim Personal Law” tops the list of Aims and Objectives of the Board.
Setting up strong nationwide network of Darul Qazas could be one of the most important strategies to protect Shariah Law. Isn’t it?