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Lucknow: Woman qazi breaks tradition, performs nikah

By Sangita Bakaya in Lucknow
Last updated on: August 12, 2008 23:01 IST
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A Planning Commission member and an expert on Islamic studies on Tuesday night created history by becoming the first woman to act as a qazi and solemnise a nikah ceremony in Lucknow.

Sayeda Hamid flew in from New Delhi to perform the nikah (Islamic marriage ceremony) of Imran Naeem, PhD scholar from Aligarh Muslim University, and Naesh Hasan, founder member of social organisation Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan in the presence of eminent citizens at a Lucknow hotel on Tuesday evening.

The introduction as well as the vows were read prominently in English giving the function a different hue than traditional rituals. Four women stood up as witnesses.

Although there has been no precedent of women conducting a nikah in recent Muslim history, they are known to have attained the position of qazi and mufti in times of the Prophet.

"The response from our families and local religious leaders has been positive," said Hasan. "We speak of progress but leave all the important jobs to menfolk. Religious duties have nearly solely been a male premise, not only in Islam but also in other religions."

The nikah took place according to the tenets of Islam, her family members said.

Endorsing the idea, Kalbe Jawwad, Shia scholar and member of the AIMPLB, said: "There is nothing wrong if a woman conducts a nikah if she has the same knowledge as her male counterpart."

However, Riyaz Ahmed, an Islamic scholar and president of the Idgah Committee in Farrukhabad, questioned the legal aspect of the nikah, saying: "What is the status of a woman qazi? Is she approved by the government?"

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Sangita Bakaya in Lucknow
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