Shariah and rules that govern religious practices in other faiths are not to be feared, spiritual leaders say

Good discussion with a number of religious leaders and experts in the context of M-103, and helpful reminder that religious laws do not trump criminal and civil laws:

Religious laws apply to a believer’s spiritual life. They don’t trump Canada’s Criminal Code, civil law or other statutes.

Sometimes, secular courts are even called upon to judge whether a faith-based decision is fair.

On Nov. 2, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear from an Alberta man appealing a decision made by a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ judicial committee.

Elders disfellowshipped — or expelled — Randy Wall when they decided the Calgary man was not sufficiently repentant for two drunken incidents where he allegedly verbally abused his wife.

Courts are sometimes are asked to judge the fairness of a religious rule or decision. The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear the case of a Jehovah’s Witness who was expelled for alleged verbal abuse of his wife. (Chris Wattie/Canadian Press)

In 2007, Canada’s top court ruled in favour of a woman who took action against her ex-husband for refusing to grant her a religious Jewish divorce, known as a get.

“The consequences to women deprived of a get and loyal to their faith are severe,” Justice Rosalie Abella wrote.

“They may not remarry within their faith, even though civilly divorced. If they do remarry, children from a second civil marriage are considered illegitimate and restricted from practising their religion.”

Open to interpretation and abuse

Religious rules though, have always been open to interpretation and, at times, vulnerable to abuse.

Jebara said that’s what we’re seeing today in some parts of the world, where Islamist “extremists have usurped Shariah and are doing crazy, awful stuff.”

He compared it to how, in medieval times, some Catholics burned alleged heretics at the stake.

“Those were politically-based edicts,” said Jebara.

So when people express concern about Shariah law coming to Canada, Jebara said he understands.

“It’s like in the old days when you were afraid of monsters under the bed. It’s not because there are monsters under the bed. It’s because it’s dark.”

This decision by elders of the congregation required Wall’s wife and children to shun him. Wall, a real estate agent, alleges the shunning caused him to lose a large number of Jehovah’s Witnesses clients.

Source: Shariah and rules that govern religious practices in other faiths are not to be feared, spiritual leaders say – Politics – CBC News

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‘Fear is the greatest factor:’ Survey finds Canadians worry about rise of racism against Muslims

Not much new here but interesting nevertheless. Comments by Imam Soharwardy of note:

A survey suggests Canadians have a generally positive impression of Muslims but that view doesn’t apply to some of the religion’s leadership and beliefs.

The poll, commissioned by Think for Actions and Insights Matter, found 78 per cent of Canadians agreed Muslims should adopt Canadian customs and values but maintain their religious and cultural practices. Some 88 per cent of those surveyed said Muslims should be treated no differently than any other Canadian.

But 72 per cent of respondents also believed there has been an increasing climate of hatred and fear towards Muslims in Canada and that it will get worse.

Results of the poll — an online survey of 1,048 Canadians done from March 13 to Aug. 12 — were released Saturday at The Unity Conference in Calgary on Islamophobia, discrimination and systemic racism.

“The biggest takeaway is Canadians who are friends with a Muslim or know a Muslim individual have a positive view of Islam and Muslims and are more welcoming to them,” said Mukarram Zaidi, chair of the group that commissioned the survey.

“Fear is the greatest factor. The majority of Canadians believe the issue of racism has increased. They are concerned about the issue of general racism and hate crimes, religious discrimination, homophobia and anti-Semitism.”

Public perception isn’t all positive. The survey found 56 per cent believed that Islam suppresses women’s rights. There was a 54 per cent approval for imams and 35 per cent for Muslim leadership.

“There needs to be work done within the Muslim community and their leadership to understand that the common person does not hold a lot of respect for what they’re doing,” said Zaidi.

“Children born and raised in North America need to become an imam, because when they stand up and speak, they can speak English clearly and they can relate Islam to North American culture.”

Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of Muslims Against Terrorism and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, understands why Canadians would be suspicious of Muslim leadership. He said many imams discuss only religious teaching and morality when they should speak out against fanaticism, extremism and intolerance.

“Many Muslim leaders do not condemn ISIL, the Taliban, al-Qaida,” said Soharwardy. “A lot of imams are doing it, but not enough.”

Soharwardy, who was born in Pakistan, said imams should be fluent in English or French and have a good understanding of Canadian society.

“I think most of the imams, who come from overseas and outside of Canada, they still live in silos. They still do not help people to integrate in the mainstream Canadian society.”

Soharwardy has personal experience about the need for good language skills when talking to Canadian-born Muslims.

“At our mosque I speak in English and Urdu, like a bilingual sort of thing. My own son says, ‘Papa, when you speak English that is fine, but as soon as you start talking Urdu, you just turn me off’ — and he understands it.”

Indonesia: Widodo’s battle with radical Islam hangs in balance- Nikkei Asian Review

Interesting analysis by Ken Ward of Indonesia’s efforts to combat fundamentalist political Islam:

Radical Muslim organizations alleging blasphemy against Jakarta’s Christian governor Basuki Purnama caught Indonesian President Joko Widodo off guard last year, and seemed for a while to threaten his presidency. Mass rallies over several months helped to inflict electoral defeat on Purnama, who was convicted in court and is now serving two years in prison.

Distancing himself from Purnama, a former political ally, Widodo has now begun to tackle the perceived threat from radical Islam. His approach looks like a two-pronged strategy. The first element is to curtail radical Muslim organizations’ freedom of action. The second is to reinforce the status and prestige of Pancasila, the tolerant and inclusive Indonesian state ideology.

In May, Widodo’s security minister, Wiranto, announced that the government would try to have Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, one of the radical Islamist organizations, banned by the courts. Then, fearing a possibly adverse reaction from Indonesia’s unpredictable justice system, the government changed tack and issued an emergency law (formally ‘a regulation in lieu of a law’) in July. This made a court verdict unnecessary. HTI in consequence lost its legal status, and was banned. The case against HTI was that it was opposed to Pancasila, and posed a threat to national unity. Ministers have warned that other organizations may suffer the same fate.

Some observers have expressed surprise that Widodo picked on HTI first, since it was not the most prominent of the groups that had campaigned against Purnama. But the choice of HTI is understandable. This organization has two characteristics that have usually been anathema to Indonesia’s security authorities. It is linked in a nontransparent way to an international movement, and it operates in some respects as a secret or clandestine organization. For example, it publishes neither membership statistics nor the names of its leading office-holders. A single spokesperson is its interface with the Indonesian public. Gaining access to HTI’s inner circles is very difficult.

Like other branches in the international Hizbut Tahrir network, HTI has as its long-term goal the fusing of the national state into a global Muslim caliphate. How this is to be achieved is enveloped in obscurity. Pancasila would presumably have no function. But whether this utopian project will appear sufficient cause for a ban in the eyes of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court, which is reviewing the edict, is hard to predict. The ban might instead be declared unconstitutional.

The campaign against Purnama was headed by the Islamic Defenders’ Front, known by its Indonesian initials as FPI. An early attempt to ban FPI would have taken few commentators by surprise. But successive Indonesian governments have had ambiguous connections with the group. It has sometimes, for example, conducted raids on private sex parties, either in connivance with the police or independently, but in both cases enjoying immunity from prosecution. Unlike HTI’s shadowy leaders, FPI figures seem to have been open to bribery or to manipulation in other ways. This may have saved the organization from being banned, at least for the time being, despite its frequently criminal and socially disruptive behavior.

Habib Rizieq, the longstanding FPI chair, is in temporary refuge in Saudi Arabia; he has been accused of holding a private sex party of his own in violation of the law against pornography. This involved inciting a female nongovernmental organization official to strip in front of a camera which, the police claim, transmitted the images to Rizieq’s smartphone. The FPI leader is said to have been parked outside the woman’s residence at the time of the alleged incident.

Reinforcing Pancasila

A stalemate has arisen between Rizieq and police officers, who want to have him put on trial. The government seems unable to dislodge him from his Saudi refuge by diplomatic or other means. Rizieq clearly fears being arrested should he return to Indonesia. He has chaired FPI for so long that his personal fate will have considerable impact on the group’s future. The government may decide that it is simply not worth trying to ban FPI, either because of the opposition that such a step would provoke or because it might be less potent without Rizieq in command. Police officers visited Rizieq in his Saudi sanctuary, extending a courtesy to him that Indonesian criminals rarely receive.

Reinforcing Pancasila as the state ideology is an equally important element of Widodo’s strategy. Pancasila includes monotheism as one of five principles, but does not grant special status to any religion. It runs counter, therefore, to the ideal of an Islamic state and to the imposition of Islamic law. It is a code-word for tolerance, not for faith.

Source: Ken Ward: Widodo’s battle with radical Islam hangs in balance- Nikkei Asian Review

ICYMI: ‘Deeply Worrying’ Fears Around Muslims And Islam Revealed In Damning Report | HuffPost UK

Not too surprising:

Britons’ attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have “worsened” with more than half of all respondents to a new survey believing the religion “poses a threat” to the West.

“The fear and hostility displayed towards Muslims is deeply worrying, despite most people claiming that they stand firm against extremists’ attempt to conflate their heinous actions with that of an entire religion,” Hope not Hate (HnH) chief executive Nick Lowles said of the finding’s of the charity’s Fear And Hope 2017 report which was released on Wednesday.

“Clearly there is a lot of work to be done here, both by those tackling hate crimes and misinformation, and potentially by Muslim communities themselves.”

The report, billed as “one of the most comprehensive studies of English attitudes towards contemporary issues”, found that despite views on immigration “softening”, attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have “simultaneously worsened among the more hostile sections of society”.

The report, based on a Populus survey of 4,000 people in “six identity tribes” across England, found that 52% of respondents believe Islam “poses a threat to the West”. As a result of recent terror attacks 42% of those surveyed were now “more suspicious” of Muslims and a quarter of Brits believe Islam is a “dangerous religion that incites violence”.

The study found older people were more prone to Islamophobia, “painting a worrying set of views” which HnH said would require “significant effort” to address.

Anti-hate charity Tell Mama told HuffPost UK that it was not surprised by the survey’s findings and called on mosques and Islamic institutions to do more to “break down barriers”.

“We know, given the levels of aggression towards victims, that there is a foothold taking place within small sections of the UK, around anti-Muslim hatred,” Tell Mama director Iman Atta said.

“For the survey to show that 25% of Brits believe that Islam is a dangerous religion, is concerning and we need more mosques and Islamic institutions to engage with their neighbours and break down barriers that there may be. Also, for 52% of respondents to believe that Islam poses a threat risk to the West shows that a lot more work needs to be done by Muslims and NGO’s to counter such growing divisions.”

Atta added:  “We are the vanguard of trying to tackle anti-Muslim hatred and we call upon others to join us in standing against all forms of hatred, including anti-Muslim hatred. There is much work to be done and clearly, there is a long road ahead. If we do not challenge this, it will strengthen Islamist extremism as well as alienating large numbers of Muslims.”

Source: ‘Deeply Worrying’ Fears Around Muslims And Islam Revealed In Damning Report | HuffPost UK

ICYMI – After Ahok: Indonesia Grapples with the Rise of Political Islam | The Diplomat

Unfortunate trend:

Five months after its closure, the doors of the Al-Hidayah mosque were sealed with wooden planks and crisscrossed with yellow police tape, as if it some kind of grisly crime had taken place within. Barred from entering their house of worship by official order, four young men held their midday prayer in the heat outside, their bodies bent towards a large sign driven into the concrete by the local authorities. Its message was emblazoned in red: “Activities are banned.”

In February, police converged on this green-tiled mosque in Depok, 15 kilometers south of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, to enforce an order sealing off the building until further notice. The order followed a clamor from Islamic fundamentalists, who held protests calling for the expulsion of this small congregation of Ahmadi Muslims from the district. “We had a permit to build this mosque, so we have no idea why they sealed it,” said Abdul Gofur, 42, the caretaker of the site.

The unpretentious Al-Hidayah mosque, a box-like building lacking the otherworldly dome and minaret of many Muslim houses of worship, has a long history of run-ins with the local authorities. Gofur said the mosque had been “sealed” six times since 2011, and has survived a concerted campaign from hardline vigilante groups, including the notorious Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, which sees Ahmadis as heretics and apostates.

On June 23, two nights before Idul Fitri (as Eid al-Fitr is known in Indonesia), the festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Gofur said that white-robed militants pelted the building with eggs and paint, and strung up spray-painted banners calling for the expulsion of the Ahmadiyah. The 400-strong congregation has erected its own signs reading, “Love for All, Hatred for None.”

The Ahmadi minority numbers around 500,000 people scattered across this island nation of 260 million. The sect is not officially recognized in Indonesia, which acknowledges just six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. While most Ahmadiyah see themselves as Muslims, they cleave to unorthodox tenets: the sect has its own holy text, the Tadzkirah, and does not regard Muhammad as the final prophet – a belief that many Indonesians see as heresy. As a result, they have become both a subject of official discrimination, and a target for religious vigilantes.

Things got particularly bad after 2007, when a leading clerical body declared the Ahmadiyah a deviant sect; the following year, then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a decree banning Ahmadi Muslims from disseminating their faith. Following the decree, mosques were shuttered and burned, and members of the community were subject to violent attacks. In February 2011, west of Jakarta in Banten province, three Ahmadi men were beaten to death by a mob; the perpetrators received only light sentences. According to the Jakarta-based Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, which monitors religious freedom in Indonesia, there have been a total of 546 violent incidents against Ahmadi Muslims since 2007.

Source: After Ahok: Indonesia Grapples with the Rise of Political Islam | The Diplomat

ICYMI – Attitudes to Islam in Europe are hardening: The Economist

Good summary of recent European polling and worrisome (and correct) fear of further polarization:

IF integration means doing a bit better in education and the job market, then there are grounds to be optimistic about the status of Muslim communities across western Europe. But when you ask Europeans how they feel about Islam and its adherents, then the picture is much harsher and in some ways getting worse.

Those are the broad impressions left by a raft of recently published surveys on the subject. The authors of a study by Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation, focusing mainly on Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, found some encouraging indicators on schooling and employment but still reported a big income disparity between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Professional progress was “not accompanied by an equal level of…social acceptance,” noted the report, which looked not at refugees but longer-standing Muslim residents. The authors were troubled by the finding that 20% of respondents did not want Muslim neighbours. That number would almost certainly have been higher if the study had looked at countries further south and east. A poll by Pew Research, an American think-tank, found that a majority of people in Hungary, Italy, Poland, Greece and Spain harboured hostile attitudes to Islam while only a minority of northwestern Europeans held similar views.

The Bertelsmann report welcomed the fact that in France, only one in ten Muslims leaves school before turning 17, compared with about a third of Muslim youngsters in Germany. But learning doesn’t seem to guarantee earning. In neither Germany nor Switzerland was there much difference between the employment rate of Muslims and non-Muslims. In France, by contrast, the jobless rate was 14% for Muslims compared with 8% for non-Muslims.

Moreover, there are some clear signs of hardening attitudes. In England, around four people in ten acknowledged that they have become more suspicious of Muslims following terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. That was one of the findings of the latest study published by Hope Not Hate, an anti-extremism lobby group.

Looking at a series of recent data, it concluded that in many ways sentiment in England was gradually becoming more liberal and tolerant of diversity, but Islam and the reactions it inspired were a clear exception. About half the population apparently thought Islam posed a “threat to Western civilisation” while a quarter regarded it as a “dangerous” religion because of its perceived capacity to incite violence. The picture changes depending on how the question is framed. The pool of respondents who opined (50% versus 22%) that the Muslim faith was a civilisational threat also agreed by a clear majority that it was wrong to blame an entire religion for a few extremists.

In Germany, a widely-quoted poll last year found that more than half the population believed that Islam did not belong in their country. But attitudes to Muslim people, as opposed to their religion, can sometimes be much more emollient, albeit varying a lot with the respondent’s political ideology.

Pew found that half the Germans who hewed to the political left thought Muslims were making a good effort to adapt to the country’s way of life, compared with one in five of those who leaned rightwards. The numbers for Britons of right and left were almost exactly the same. Given the many different ways in which progress (or regress) can be measured, the state of Islam in Europe may always be a vessel that some see as half-empty and others see as half-full.

What’s worrying is that almost every terrorist movement aims to polarise feelings in a way that drives people into opposing camps. The terrorist who claims to represent a certain community often hopes that the authorities, and perhaps society as whole, will stigmatise that community and provoke in it a defensive mood, so that violence starts to seem like a reasonable option. Historically, such polarising tactics have often worked.

Although things have not yet reached that point, these poll results suggest something sinister: it’s perfectly conceivable that the murderous van-drivers and knife-wielders who claim to speak for Muslims in Europe could enjoy a similar “success” in polarising sentiment across the continent.

Source: Attitudes to Islam in Europe are hardening

U.S. Muslims are religiously observant, but open to multiple interpretations of Islam | Pew Research Center

Usual interesting survey results from Pew, along with some comparisons with Christianity and Judaism in America:

For American Muslims, being highly religious does not necessarily translate into acceptance of traditional notions of Islam. While many U.S. Muslims say they attend mosque and pray regularly, sizable shares also say that there is more than one way to interpret their religion and that traditional understandings of Islam need to be reinterpreted to address the issues of today.

By some conventional measures, U.S. Muslims are as religious as – or more religious than – many Americans who belong to other faith groups. Four-in-ten (43%) Muslim Americans say they attend mosque at least once a week, including 18% who say they attend more than once a week, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. An additional 32% say they attend once or twice a month, or a few times a year. These attendance levels are comparable to those of U.S. Christians, 47% of whom say they attend services weekly or more, and greater than the 14% of American Jews who say the same.

A majority also say that they pray at least some or all of the salah, or ritual prayers required of Muslims five times per day. Among all U.S. Muslims, fully 42% say they pray all five salah daily, while 17% pray at least some of the salah every day. A quarter say they pray less often, and just 15% say they never pray.

And nearly two-thirds of U.S. Muslims (65%) say that religion is very important in their lives, similar to the share of U.S. Christians who say the same (68%), and higher than the share of U.S. Jews who say this (31%). An additional 22% of Muslims say that religion is somewhat important in their lives, while fewer say that religion is not too or not at all important to them.

At the same time, American Muslims openly acknowledge that there is room for multiple interpretations of the teachings of Islam. A majority (64%) say there is more than one true way to interpret the faith’s teachings, while just half as many (31%) say there is only one true way to interpret Islam. And it’s not just less-religious Muslims who express this sentiment: While 72% of Muslims who say religion is somewhat (or less) important in their life say they are open to multiple interpretations, a majority (59%) of those who say religion is very important in their life also say there is more than one true way to interpret the faith. Among U.S. Christians, there is a similar balance: 60% say there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion, while 34% say there is just one true way.

About half (52%) of all U.S. Muslim adults also say that traditional understandings of Islam must be reinterpreted to reflect contemporary issues, while 38% maintain that traditional understandings of Islam are all that are needed to address today’s issues. On this question there is more of a difference of opinion among Muslims when it comes to how important religion is in their lives. Those who say religion is very important in their lives are evenly divided (43% say traditional understandings should be reinterpreted vs. 46% who say traditional understandings are all that is needed), while about seven-in-ten (71%) of those who say religion is less important express the view that Islamic teachings need to be reinterpreted.

Source: U.S. Muslims are religiously observant, but open to multiple interpretations of Islam | Pew Research Center

ICYMI – Inheritance rules ‘definative’ in Islam: Al-Azhar grand sheikh – Egypt Independent

Sigh….

Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, stressed that the “inheritance rules” in Islam are clear and “definitive”, rejecting the Tunisian president’s call for equality between men and women in regards to inheritance.

Tayyeb added in a statement Sunday that, inheritance is regulated in the Quran by clear and definitive verses that leave no room for interpretation, unlike other verses that could be interpreted by scholars in more than one way,

He added that such rulings cannot be allowed, as they are not based in the study of Sharia or Islamic scriptures, pointing out that such ideas provoke the Muslim masses and could lead to destabilization in Muslim societies.

Tayyeb stated he firmly rejects political interference with the set rules of Islamic Sharia.

Al-Azhar declared its position on the equality between men and women in inheritance based on the religious responsibility it has held for more than a thousand years, and to make clear the rules of Islamic Sharia to the Islamic nation around the world, Tayyeb said in a statement on Sunday.

The sheikh went on to say that the institution guards the rules of Islam around the world regardless of geographic borders or political orientations.

Source: Inheritance rules ‘definative’ in Islam: Al-Azhar grand sheikh – Egypt Independent

Rabbis ditch High Holy Days call with Trump – POLITICO

As Andrew Cohen recently argued, Trump’s Jewish advisers should stand up to him. Rabbis message should provoke reflection. As for the evangelical leaders still supporting Trump (the only council yet to have lost members or disbanded?), some signs of weakening support (Evangelicals Losing Faith in Trump After Racist Ranting):

A prominent coalition of American rabbis has decided not to hold its annual conference call with the president to mark Jewish holidays, citing Donald Trump’s remarks on the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as supporting “those who advocate anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.”

“We have concluded that President Trump’s statements during and after the tragic events in Charlottesville are so lacking in moral leadership and empathy for the victims of racial and religious hatred that we cannot organize such a call this year,” the groups — the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Rabbinical Assembly, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism — said in a statement.

The coalition represents the leaders of much of the U.S. Jewish community, with the exception of Orthodox Jews, who have been much more supportive of Trump. His daughter Ivanka and her family are Orthodox Jews. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The call, which is organized by the Reform rabbis group CCAR, is a standard event for presidents each year. Rabbi Steve Fox, CCAR’s executive director, said former President Barack Obama participated in each year of his administration.

“These are religious issues, not political issues. It is important that the president steps forward as a moral leader on these issues,” Fox said in an interview. “As the leader of the U.S. and the leader of the free world, we believe it is his obligation to condemn these white supremacists.”

Fox said Trump’s response to the Charlottesville unrest — among other comments, the president said there were “very fine people” amid a crowd of white supremacists and neo-Nazis protesting in defense of a Confederate statue — put the celebration of the Jewish High Holy Days at risk.

“We pray that President Trump will recognize and remedy the grave error he has made in abetting the voices of hatred,” the group said. “We pray that those who traffic in anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia will see that there is no place for such pernicious philosophies in a civilized society.”

Trump has faced a barrage of criticism since the Charlottesville white supremacist rally that left one person dead. Trump has defended his response that “many sides” are to blame for the violence that ensued. At a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, the president accused the media of misrepresenting his response and read parts of his initial remarks, though he omitted the controversial language that seemingly placed blame on counter-protesters.

Most members on Trump’s evangelical council, meanwhile, have not distanced themselves from the president. A.R. Bernard, who once a member of the Evangelical Advisory Board, said on Friday that he resigned due to a “deepening conflict in values” between himself and the Trump administration.

Source: Rabbis ditch High Holy Days call with Trump – POLITICO

India’s supreme court bans Islamic instant divorce | The Guardian

Welcome development:

India’s top court has banned a controversial Islamic practice that allows men to divorce their wives instantly, saying it was unconstitutional.

Victims of the practice known as “triple talaq”, whereby Muslim men can divorce their wives by reciting the word talaq (divorce) three times, had approached the supreme court to ask for a ban.

Triple talaq “is not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality”, a panel of judges said.

“It’s a very happy day for us. It’s a historic day,” said Zakia Soman, the co-founder of the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement, which was part of the legal battle to end the practice.

“We, the Muslim women, are entitled to justice from the courts as well as the legislature,” she added.

The five supreme court judges were from India’s major faiths – Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. In their ruling, they said it was “manifestly arbitrary” to allow a man to “break down [a] marriage whimsically and capriciously”.

“What is sinful under religion cannot be valid under law,” they said.

The practice had been challenged in lower courts but it was the first time India’s supreme court had considered whether triple talaq was legal.

India allows religious institutions to govern matters of marriage, divorce and property inheritance in the multi-faith nation, enshrining triple talaq as a legal avenue for its 180 million Muslims to end unions.

More than 20 Muslim countries, including neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned the practice while in India, the practice has continued. While most Hindu personal law has been overhauled and codified over the years, Muslim laws have been left to religious authorities and left largely untouched.

The Hindu nationalist government of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, had backed the petitioners in this landmark case, declaring triple talaq unconstitutional and discriminatory against women. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party has long pushed for a uniform civil code, governing Indians of all religions, to be enforced.

The issue remains highly sensitive in India, where religious tensions often lead to violence.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a grouping of Islamic organisations, had told the court that while they considered the practice of triple talaq wrong, they opposed any court intervention and asked that the matter be left to the community to tackle.

Progressive Muslim activists had criticised the board’s position. “This is the demand of ordinary Muslim women for over 70 years and it’s time for this country to hear their voices,” activist Feroze Mithiborwala told New Delhi television station.

Source: India’s supreme court bans Islamic instant divorce | World news | The Guardian