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‘Reduce Muslim wedding costs, do away with dowry’

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Part of the movement is also Dukhtari Haq (Rights of the Daughters). "Don't give dowry to your daughters, give her rights in the ancestral property" is the movement's catchphrase. "A daughter is entitled to half of the son's share in her father's property. She inherits less because after marriage it is her husband's duty to take care of her

By Mohammed Wajihuddin

These are the people who took pride in their big, fat weddings. Baraatis would comprise hundreds and feasts at the bride's place would continue for three days. And dowry, both in cash and kind, had hit the roof. Now the same tribe is curtailing the number of baraatis, the amount of food served at weddings and has done away with dowry. Called Islah-e-Muashra (Reforms of Society), the movement of Muslims from Ghazipur (UP), is getting a good reception in Mumbai. Islah-e-Muashra's city wing called the Mumbai Forum is convening a meeting of over 2000 participants at Mackichan Hall in Girgaum today to discuss how to make the initiative more effective.

Muslim migrants from Ghazipur have joined hands with relatives back home to root out the system of dowry. Though the first Islah-e-Muashra of Ghazipur was started in 1910, the latest move began in 2011. Five friends—Asif Khan, Ghulam Mohammed Siddiqui, Akbar Khan, Javed Khan and Inam Khan—took upon themselves the task ofending dowry. "In 2010 alone people in Ghazipur sold land worth Rs 10 crore to fund their daughters' weddings. Till a few years ago, baraatis would come in more than 20 cars and dowry items would be carted away in trucks. This has now substantially reduced," says Asif Khan, nephew of famous Urdu journalist Haroon Rashid Alig, who was part of a similar movement in the 1980s.

According to the 15-point charter, baraatis will number not more than seven, including the groom. No lavish food will be served at the bride's place and the nikah will be preferably performed at the local mosque. Unlike in the past when brides were expected to be bejeweled and carry a variety of things to the groom's house, dowry has been curtailed to a few essentials. Now the bride will carry silver jewelry, one palang (cot), bed-sheets and pillows, a quilt, a prayer mat and a copy of the Quran. "There is no concept of either demanding or giving dowry lavishly in Islam. It has to be modest. We are trying to follow what the Sharia prescribes," says Ishtiaque Khan. "The rich have to set the example. The poor pawn their little landed property and borrow money at exorbitant rates to arrange for dowry. This has to stop."

Part of the movement is also Dukhtari Haq (Rights of the Daughters). "Don't give dowry to your daughters, give her rights in the ancestral property" is the movement's catchphrase. "A daughter is entitled to half of the son's share in her father's property. She inherits less because after marriage it is her husband's duty to take care of her," explains senior cleric Maulana Shoeb Koti.

Significantly, the movement is being backed by different sects of the community. "Despite our ideological differences, all the sects like Deobandis, Sunnis, Ahle Hadees, Barelvis agree that the evil of dowry needs to be eradicated," says Ashraf Ali Khan. The Pathans of Ghazipur areleading a silent revolution, both in Mumbai and elsewhere.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)
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