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Kerala: Islamic cleric against equal property rights for women, govt gives in to his demand but later has a change of heart

Nasar Faizy Koodathai hit out at the government, asserting that the pledge was in contravention of the right to religious freedom guaranteed by the Indian constitution

On Friday (December 2), a prominent Islamic cleric lashed out at the Kerala government for violating Quranic principles by allowing Kudumbashree volunteers to take oaths of equal rights over their father’s property.

The cleric, identified as Nasar Faizy Koodathai, is a member of the Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyathul Qutba Committee. He took offence at the pledge of the government’s Kudumbashree mission, which is constituted to promote gender equality and eradicate poverty in the coastal State.

The women-led mission in Kozikhode had come up with a pledge titled ‘Nai Chetna’, with the goal to ensure that a female member of a family gets an equal share over her father’s property. This, however, did not sit well with the Islamic scholar.

Nasar Faizy Koodathai hit out at the government, asserting that the pledge was in contravention of the right to religious freedom guaranteed by the Indian constitution.

In a Facebook post, he claimed, “There is a proposal (in the circular) to take a pledge in the gender resource meeting in Kudumbashree during the fourth week. In the last portion of the pledge, it asks women members to say – We will give property rights to sons and daughters equally.”

While quoting the Quran, he said that a female member of a family cannot inherit equal property as that of a man and that she is allowed half of what a man receives from the father’s property. He said that Islamic principles could not be classified as an ‘act of discrimination.’

Quranic verse and the objections of the cleric

In the Quran, Surah 4 (Al Nisa), Verse 11 of the Holy Book says:

Allah commands you regarding your children: the share of the male will be twice that of the female. If you leave only two ˹or more˺ females, their share is two-thirds of the estate. But if there is only one female, her share will be one-half. Each parent is entitled to one-sixth if you leave offspring. But if you are childless and your parents are the only heirs, then your mother will receive one-third. But if you leave siblings, then your mother will receive one-sixth —after the fulfillment of bequests and debts. Be fair to your parents and children, as you do not ˹fully˺ know who is more beneficial to you. This is an obligation from Allah. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

Nasar Faizy Koodathai objected to the gender-neutral pledge of the Kudumbashree Mission and said that a man inheriting a disproportionate share of his father’s property is justified in light of the responsibilities that he bore in the family.

“It is a man who has to bear all the expenses of a woman’s life. Even if the husband is poor and the wife is rich, it is the husband’s responsibility to bear their expenses and that of the children,” he claimed in his Facebook post

He also warned that the oath by Kudumbashree volunteers would invite the wrath of those opposed to the idea of gender neutrality. The Islamic cleric, later backed by Jamaat-e-Islami, also claimed that the Kerala government was helping the Union government in implementing Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

Confusion persists over the status of the gender-neutral pledge

As per a report by The Hindustan Times, the Social Welfare Ministry of Kerala gave in to the demand of Nasar Faizy Koodathai and directed Kudumbashree to not take the oath of gender neutrality in property rights.

The news publication also quoted an anonymous official of the self-help group as saying, “We have directed the Kudumbashree units to not go ahead with the pledge.” The official told Hindustan Times that a ‘correction version’ of the pledge would be available soon.

While slamming the Kerala government for giving in to regressive demands of Islamists, Kerala BJP Chief K Surendran said, “Where is the renaissance movement and the human chain the government had floated in the wake of Sabarimala agitation?”

“Thousands of pilgrims were attacked and police helped two women activists to enter the temple also. Why is the spirit missing this time?” he further questioned.

However, on Sunday (December 4), the executive director of Kudumbashree Jafar Malik ‘dismissed’ media reports about the government backtracking on the gender-neutral pledge.

As per a report by The Times of India, Kudumbashree officials in Kozikhode were informally told to not recite the gender-neutral pledge for the time being.

Gireesan PM, the district mission coordinator, informed, “The pledge sparked controversy at many places. So, we have asked ayalkoottams not to recite the pledge for the time being.”

It now appears as if the government had indeed directed the self-help group to abstain from reciting the pledge but later took a U-turn in light of vehement criticism by the BJP.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Searched termsKerala Islam
OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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