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Lucknow: Shia woman performs nikah of Sunni couple

By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
August 13, 2008 00:49 IST
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Carrying out a nikah might be regarded as the exclusive privilege of only a male qazi. But back in Lucknow -- the city of the Nawabs -- a well educated Muslim woman did the qazi's  job to create history.

It was late Tuesday evening when Dr Saeeda Hameed, a member of the State Planning Commission, performed the nikah of young Naish Hasan and Imran at a Lucknow hotel.

But what was even more rare and sensational was that here was a Shia woman performing the nikah of a Sunni bride and bridegroom.

Naish runs her own NGO and Imran is a PhD from Aligarh Muslim University and also works for another NGO.

Interestingly, the nikahnama signed by them was also not the conventional one. "This nikahnama was drafted by Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, a voluntary organisation founded by activist Muslim women including Naish, who felt that the conventional nikahnama had a typical male bias," said the lady qazi.

Had it not been for the intervention of the sole woman member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board Begum Ikhtidar Ali Khan, the nikahnama would have gone without a single male witness -- thereby creating yet another history .

"Since I happened to be present at the ceremony, I managed to prevail upon the bride's family to include a male witness otherwise they had no plans to include any male as witness," Khan told this scribe.

According to Naish, the bride, "Times have changed and I see no logic in blindly following what was laid down by our ancestors for their times; therefore, I also insisted on neither having Imran come in a baraat procession, nor did I agree to follow the conventional practice of the bride and bridegroom sitting in separate enclosures far apart for the nikah, and preferred to sit together without any purdah."

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow