CAIRO – Two Muslim women from India’s northern district of Rajasthan have proclaimed the position of Qazi or judge, becoming the first ever Muslim women to assume a judiciary position in the state.
“Although we are qualified now to solemnize nikah (Islamic marriage ceremony), our duties go beyond that,” Jahan Ara, who finished a two-year course from Darul Uloom-i-Niswan in Mumbai to become judges, told The Hindu.
“It is the duty of a qazi [judge] to speak about rights and duties, and ensure truthfulness.
“I will ensure that women get all the rights according to Islam,” Ara added.
Ara and Afroz Begum made the announcement during a press conference last week.
The duo from Jaipur was among a group of 16 women from different States across the country who recently completed a two-year course from Darul Uloom-i-Niswan in Mumbai to become qazis.
The duo was sent for training by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, of which the two women are members.
She has completed the course in the light of Quran, Hadith and Indian Constitution. Also, she learnt about the rights of women.
Ara is geared up to do a lot of things for women.
“I completed the course in the light of Qur’an, Hadith and the Indian Constitution. I learned about the rights of women, which Qur’an bestowed to them some 1,500 years ago. It was a challenging task for me but I passed with 69 per cent marks,” she said.
The appointment of the first two female Muslim judges has trigged condemnations from some scholars.
“Women cannot become qazis. The Qur’an states that women cannot be above men,” Khalid Usmani, Rajasthan’s chief qazi, told The Hindu.
Abdul Sattar, Jaipur’s Mufti, also told the media that Islam did not allow a woman to hold the position of a judge.
The opinion of the scholars was contested by A. Faizur Rahman, secretary general of the Islamic forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought.
“Islam gives equal rights to men and women,” he said.
“The Qur’an and the Prophet do not discriminate between men and women. In Islam, a responsible position can be held by anybody on the basis of scholarship and academic qualification.”
“There are many women scholars in Islam. [Islamic scholar] Mohammad Akram Nadwi, a fellow at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, has compiled a 40-volume biographical dictionary on Muslim women scholars in Islamic history who, he says, even issued fatwas and enjoyed considerable public authority in society,” Faizur Rahman added.
Jurists differ as to whether a woman may assume the post of a judge. The majority of jurists held the view that it is not allowed for a woman to act as a judge.
The opinion held by Hanafi jurists, however, was that this is permissible only when she will act as a judge with regard to non-criminal cases.
As for Azh-Zhahiriyya scholars, they are of the opinion that a woman is definitely permitted to act as a judge with regard to criminal and non-criminal cases alike.