All India Muslim Personal Law Board

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is a non-government organisation constituted in 1973 to adopt suitable strategies for the protection and continued applicability of Muslim Personal Law in India, most importantly, the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937, providing for the application of the Islamic Law Code of Shariat to Muslims in India in personal affairs. only a minuscule minority of Muslims followed Hindu customs before 1937. Even this section had the right under laws such as the Cutchi Memons Act, 1920 and the Mahomedan Inheritance Act (II of 1897) to opt for „Mahomedan Law“. As for a majority of Muslims, there is enough evidence to show they followed Muslim law, not the Hindu civil code. The Board presents itself as the leading body of Muslim opinion in India, a role for which it has been criticised as well as supported All India Muslim Personal Law Board was set up during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s time. Most of the Muslim sects are represented on the board and its members include prominent Muslims from cross section of the Indian Muslim society such as religious leaders, scholars, lawyers, politicians and other professionals. However, only a few Muslim scholars like Tahir Mahmood , Arif Mohammad Khan and retired Supreme Court judge like Markandey Katju have advocated abolishing of All India Muslim Personal Law Board. The diktats and rules of All India Muslim Personal Law Board does not applies to Shias and Ahmadiyya Muslims in India. Ahmadis were not allowed to sit on the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which is widely regarded in India as representative of Muslims in the country as most Muslims donot consider the Qadiyanis/Ahmedis as Muslims. Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, senior vice president of AIMPLB is also the vice chairman of the All India Shia Personal Law Board.

AIMPLB is a private body working to protect Muslim personal laws, liaise with and influence the Government of India and guide the general public about crucial issues. The board has a working committee of 41 ulama representing various schools of thought. In addition to this, it also has a general body of 201 persons of ulama as well as laymen, including about 25 women.

However, some of the Shias and Muslim feminists have formed their own separate boards, the All India Shia Personal Law Board and the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board, respectively but have failed to win any significant support from the Muslims or the government.

The AIMPLB focuses primarily to defend the Sharia laws from any law or legislation that they consider infringes on it. In this role initially it has objected to any change in the Divorce Laws for Muslim women. In this regard it has even published a book – Nikah-O-Talaq (Marriage and Divorce). However, from time to time it has been hinted by the board that it might reconsider its position. It has also objected to gay rights and supports uphelding the 1861 Indian law that bans sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex.

The Board has also objected to the Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 as they believe it will infringe on the Madrasa System of Education. It has also supported child marriage and opposes the Child Marriage Restraint Act. It has also objected to the High Court of India Judgement on Babri Mosque. For this, it is also willing to threaten political action. The Board was in the headlines for its opposition to the live video conference of author Salman Rushdie to the Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2012. They argue that „there is a serious threat to our religion. There is a sinister design to impose ‘Brahmin dharma’ through yoga, Surya Namaskara and Vedic culture. They all are against Islamic beliefs. We need to awaken our community for launching a protest on a large scale“

AIMPLB drafted a model ‘nikahnama’ in 2003 laying down specific guidelines and conditions on which a marriage can be annulled by both husband and wife in large sections of Sunni Muslims in Uttar Pradesh.