In this enlightening episode of The Brand Called You, we have with us a feminist and an activist Dr. Noorjehan Safia Niaz in conversation with our host Ashutosh Garg. Noorjehan is the co-founder of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), she has been helping with addressing the issues of Muslim women for the last 28 years. Dr. Noorjehan has been awarded and recognized all over the country and the world and has played a key role in legislation against triple talaq. In the interview, she tells us about three key milestones in her life. Coming from a comfortable and well-off Muslim household, she tells us that recognizing the advantages she has over other Muslim women was the first milestone in her life. She informs us why there is a need for a separate movement for Muslim women, and how it is another dimension of other feminist movements in the country. BMMA is the movement that targets Muslim women-specific issues in the country and helps in resolving them, it is a separate safe space for Muslim women. She enlightens us that offensive Muslim practices like triple talaq aren’t sanctioned in the Quran, but a part of hegemonic practices or the patriarchy. In the final section, Noorjehan tells us that she wants to codify the Muslim family law to put an end to the oppression Muslim women face in their day-to-day lives and provide a solution to their insecurities. She tells us that one should take religion along to empower oneself and not to oppress. Tune in!
Dr. Noorjehan Safia Niaz, Co-Founder, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan [BMMA]
I have been working on issues of Muslim women since the last 28 years in various capacities, diverse institutions and have fulfilled different roles. Knowledge activism through capacity building, training and enabling women’s leadership has been my area of expertise. I have been able to play a key role in getting a legislation against triple divorce impacting lives of 80 million Muslim women, reversed anti-women decision of the Haji Ali dargah enabling access for women into sacred spaces, enabled women to become formally trained qazis thereby entering a long held male bastion and worked consistently for the socio-economic and educational development of the Muslim community. As I move into the future, I aspire for a gender-just world and specifically work towards codifying the Muslim family law in India.
Doctor of Philosophy from YCMOU, 2013
Maters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, 1992
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Mumbai University, 1990
Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan [BMMA] 2007 – Till Date
BMMA is a national movement of Muslim women initiated to fight for citizenship rights of Muslim women with focus on issues of education, livelihood, health, security and family law reform. The vision was to create space for Muslim women within the community and before the state for demanding her rights as enshrined in the Quran and the country’s constitution.
- Won Public Interest Litigation [PIL] in Mumbai High Court and Supreme Court against Haji Ali Dargah Trust for denying entry to women in the sanctum sanctorum
- Won PIL against the practice of triple divorce in Supreme Court of India
- PIL against polygamy and halala pending in the Supreme Court of India
- Lobbying, campaigning and advocacy for legislation against triple divorce
- Steered the process of preparing draft of codified Muslim family law through nationwide consultations
- Booklets, pamphlets and other training material in Hindi, Urdu and English pertaining to Muslim family law
- Established Darul Uloom-e-Niswaan as a centre for learning, training and awareness in Islam. 20 women have been certified as qazis through this institution.
- Set up Karwaan Centres for socio-economic and education development of the Muslim women
- Set up Aurton Ki Shariat Adalats [Legal Aid Centres] for providing legal aid, guidance and mental health counseling to women