ET: Saroop Ijaz” In traditional Islamic jurisprudence, there is considerable debate on when an individual who has gone “missing” can be pronounced dead. The primary focus was when the wife can be declared a widow for the purposes of inheritance and remarriage, etc. The position in the Hanafi School varies from 90 to 120 years since the “missing” person’s date of birth, a fair bit of wait. It is always unnerving in Pakistan to talk about “missing” persons, waiting periods and closure. However, the intention today is to draw attention to something else. Imam Abu Hanifa believed that the maximum period a woman can remain pregnant (gestation period) with a child was two years; Imam Malik, Imam Shaafaee and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal believed it to be four. We now know that to be medically impossible. All the four great Imams were amongst the best jurists of all times, with unparalleled nuance and insight, yet they did not get some of these things completely right. Why? Simple, because they were not men of science, they laid no claim to be as such and the scientific facts we hold to be self-evident today were not completely established or, at least, known to them at the time.
The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has no great men of science and the position seems to be identical on the religious jurist front. The CII has recently said that DNA evidence should not be acceptable as primary evidence in rape cases. The declaration is an affront to religion, science and basic sensitivity towards rape victims. To get some perspective on rape, Alexander Pope’s, “Rape of the lock” was proposed to be taken out of the curriculum because it had the undesirable word “rape” in it, while we have no problems with actual rape and its perpetrators — some priorities, right?