Muslim Private Law in Contemporary India: Ideas of Revision and Modernization

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Post-graduate student
Institute of Asian and African Studies
Lomonosov Moscow State University
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 7

For decades, the Muslim Personal Law has been one of most controversial topics for the conservative Muslim organizations, Hindu organizations and secular parties in India. A complicated legal system combined with the absence of the Universal Civil Code has brought about legal inequality within the Indian Muslim community. Consequently, in the most cases Muslim women lose lawsuits, particularly, in the divorce cases. Being citizens of India and members of their religious community, they often fail to enjoy statutory rights. In the mid-20th century, the idea of the Uniform Civil Code as a guarantee of civil rights prevailed among Muslim activists. Nowadays, however, most Muslim women organizations have put this idea aside preferring to focus on the revision of the Muslim Personal Law and on the grass-root work among the poorest strata of the community. Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has substantially contributed to modifying the Muslim Personal Law regulations and succeeded in banning the “triple talaq” practice. It pays special attention to the issue of dowry – a traditional payment by parents of the bride, which was officially prohibited in India as far back as 1961. Basing on the Quranic principles, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has coined its own version of the Codified Muslim Personal Law. The organization has formulated new principles of a marriage contract, according to which the groom has to pay his one-year salary as mehr for the bride and is not supposed to have any claims against it during the marriage period. Following country-wide consultations with religious scholars and lawyers, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has been trying to introduce its version of the Codified Muslim Personal Law to the Indian government.

KeywordsIndia, Unified Civil Code, Muslim Personal Law, Muslim community, rights of Muslim women
Publication date07.08.2019
Number of characters21893
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