Thursday, December 21, 2006

Drunk Muslim says divorce, Bihar village enforces it

divorce pronounced by a Muslim man in an inebriated condition has come to haunt him, as he has been forced to live away from his wife and children by villagers led by orthodox religious leaders.

Mohammed Mokhtar was forcibly separated from his wife Sakina Khatoon and their children in Parbodhi village near Hajipur in Vaishali district, 35 km from here, by some villagers.

Compelled to adhere to the interpretation of the Muslim law by a local religious group, Mokhtar was upset and frustrated for being separated.

The man reportedly shouted 'talaq' (divorce) thrice to her wife in a drunken state following a domestic quarrel few days ago.

'I frankly and honestly admit that even if I pronounced divorce to my wife, it was in a drunken condition. I hardly recall that I did it,' Mokhtar told IANS over phone.

'I requested people to forgive me if I pronounced divorce in an inebriated condition but some village men forced us to live separately,' he said.

Sakina said she was willing to live with her husband but preferred to live separately due to the social pressure.

Maulana Inamul Haque, a religious leader in the village, said: 'Alcohol is prohibited in Islam. If someone consumed it and then pronounced divorce, it will be accepted as divorce.'

Mokhtar's case has been referred to the Imarat Sharia, a religious body at Phulwarisharief near Patna.

Those following orthodox religious dictates say that if Sakina wishes to reunite with him, she could undergo the practice of halala, that is, marry another man and obtain a divorce from him in order to eventually reunite with Mokhtar.

'I will commit suicide if this happened. I am against her marriage with somebody else before reuniting with me,' Mokhtar said.

While halala is a common practice in the Muslim community, a Muslim couple in Orissa - Najma Biwi and Sher Ali - were reunited this year without it after a court intervened.

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