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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2783

A Holy War For Shehnaz Sani !

Advocate Amit Kumar Bhowmik from Pune, India

Through the last two decades, I had, off and on, followed Shehnaz Sani’s numerous expeditions through the Courts. Like a jack-in-the-box, every now and again would pop-up a news-item, reporting that she had bagged yet another order in her favour. But these were phyric victories since, apparently, according to her, she has not been able to enforce them !

I am representing another woman who has also been forced to run a similar painful, humiliating and frustrating gauntlet. But it was only on January 12, this year that Shehnaz and I, finally, met. A colleague, whom I greatly admire for her fiery, resolute stance towards women’ causes, from the Bombay High Court (and fellow Bong !) had requested me to look at her case papers. I suggested that Shehnaz could consider viewing her situation from other angles. This, particularly, since her opponents at her work-place were Muslims, like her, and natives of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which adhered to the Shariah.

To my mind, the main sources of the Shariah are the Divine revelations made in the Holy Quran, over a period of 22 years 2 months and 22 days, by God to His Messenger (PBUH) and the ‘Hadiths’ (traditions) of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), while, the laws of our land were all man-made. Therefore, there could be no contradictions, especially since citizens of Dar-ul-Islam (abode of Islam or Islamic countries) were in classic double jeopardy because, on the one hand, they were subject to the laws of their host countries for any transgression, while on the other, the ‘hudud’ code and the Shariah were also applicable to them, without any over-lapping.

Thus, if say, a native of Dar-ul-Islam, committed a heinous crime like rape, murder or indulged in other acts, like committing felonies while being intoxicated, in the USA, Europe, India or Bangladesh, he would be proceeded against as per the local laws; fined and/or imprisoned. When he returned to his home-land, if a petition or complaint was also lodged by the victim against him, the Shariah laws would also apply and neither law could be deemed to be subjudice of each other.

Although, I am a Hindu, I have always tried to follow the ‘hadiths’ of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). I was in my teens when I first read the “The Translation of the Glorious Quran” by Mohammed Marmaduke Picktall - and was truly mesmerized by its unfathomable depth; knowledge of human relations and family bonding. I have also read the Sunnah and works of many Islamic thinkers, quite extensively.

I find the Shariah the only truly comprehensive judicial work, to which there is certainly no comparison. The punishments prescribed may appear harsh. But consider them from the victim’s point of view. Huge frauds are committed on desperately poor people. The shysters get away because they have the money in their pockets – stolen though it be! Under the Shariah, however, the thief would get his just dues.

Decades ago, then an adolescent, I also first heard “The Impossible Dream” crooned by Andy Williams. It became my motto ….. and has caused me endless troubles, misunderstandings et al. I was also – and am even now, well into middle-age - unabashedly influenced by the lives of the heroes from my youth. Surya Sen, Jesus, Moses, Vivekananda, Guru Gobind and Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), whose ‘hadith’ I have tried to emulate, receiving a lot of brick-bats and flack in the process ! That : “The best ‘jihad’ is to say a just word in the face of injustice and before a tyrannical authority”.

To do this, is truly a very difficult feat, believe me. As a lawyer, I have fought numerous pitched battles, quite literally, against the powers-that-be, lost umpteen merry-weather friends, annoyed colleagues and even incurred the wrath of some Judges in India and abroad, (since I have also some experience in Private International Law), having unwittingly championed the cause of some wretch stretched out on the rack of social justice. Painful. Excruciatingly. But satisfying too.….. The Impossible Dream.

“To dream the impossible dream;
To fight the unbeatable foe;
To bear with unbearable sorrow,
To dare where the brave dare not go.
To right the unrightable wrong;
To love pure and chaste from afar;
To try when your arms are so weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest; this is my song,
To fight for the right,
Without question or pause,
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause………..”

The true meaning of ‘Jihad’ is “struggle”. The struggle is perpetual, between good and evil, both of which co-exists, within ourselves. Shehnaz is a woman of substance. When we first met, I saw the pain and suffering etched in her eyes – and picked up the gauntlet as a ‘jihad’.

Advocate Amit Kumar: wWriter is a lawyer with the Bombay High Court. He is Counsel for Ms. Shehnaz Sani of Mumbai, who has lodged a petition with the Shariah Council in Jeddah alleging sexual harassment and other offences committed against her by senior executives of the Saudi Arabian Airlines.

- INS + Asian Tribune -

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