Recently, the news of a Bengali bride refusing to conform to an outdated wedding ritual grabbed headlines. It evidently shows how the present generation is taking a step forward to consecrate their bond in a progressive manner, rather than resorting to age-old irrational customs. A Mumbai couple recently opted for a woman Qazi to solemnise their nikah. Though not the first instance of a woman solemnising a Muslim marriage, this is probably the first time a couple has exclusively sought a woman to bind them in holy matrimony.
Very few know about women Qazis
On January 5, Maya Rachel McManus and Shamaun Ahmed’s nikah was solemnised by Qazi Hakima Khatoon from Kolkata, reported The News Minute. While talking about why they decided to have a woman Qazi, Maya revealed that many are not aware that Islam allows a woman to solemnise a marriage, because the norm is unpopular in society. Maya, a communications professional, got to know about this a few years ago from an article. She and her fiance’ Shamaun had decided outright that they want a woman Qazi for their marriage.
Only 16 trained women Qazis in India
The couple realised the disheartening scenario while searching for a woman Qazi. For more than eight months, they failed to find any woman prepared for the job. Finally, they managed to find out that the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) had trained a few women as Qazis, with knowledge in Quranic and constitutional rights, under their Darul Uloom-e-Niswan programme. The number of certified women Qazis all over India stands at merely 16 at present, and Hakima Khatoom was one of the first ones to conduct a wedding.
When Maya and Shamaun approached BMMA to assign a Qazi for their marriage, like all others, the association asked them the reason. The couple’s reply was a simple “Why not?” Maya, who hails from a half-Bengali and half-British family shared that her decision was graciously welcomed by her family members.
Brides don’t mind, grooms do
Qazi Hakima, who conducted the ceremony, was overwhelmed to be offered the opportunity. Writing for The News Minute, BMMA member and woman’s rights activist Mariya Salim expressed, “Qazi Hakima and her like need to be supported so that more couples come forward to get their nikahs solemnised by them.”
The concept of women Qazis is not entirely new to India, as way back in 2008, Muslim activist Naish Hasan approached scholar Syeda Ahmed to solemnise her wedding. The decision stirred a lot of controversies from the patriarchal idealists of the community. In 2016, All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board appointed two women for the first time as Qazis, but they were never invited to conduct weddings.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Bandra-based woman Qazi Zubeda Khatoon revealed, “Brides don’t mind, but grooms are apprehensive.” Maya and Shamaun have truly set an exceptional example which will inspire more couples to come forward and break the unsaid and unfair stereotype against women Qazis.
Efforts For Good applauds the progressive step taken by the couple and hopes more women Qazis like Hakima Khatoon come to the limelight.