Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Abolish unjust Muslim Personal Law

After my earlier post, many of my Muslim friends have criticized me alleging that I have no knowledge of Muslim Law.

Let me answer them by telling that I have studied shariat law first in the Allahabad university as a student of L.L.B. from 1965, then as a lawyer till 1991 in Allahabad High Court, and then as a Judge in the High Court and Supreme Court. Thus I was studying the shariat perhaps even before these critics were born ( I am now 68 years old).

On the other hand, their comments indicate that they have little knowledge of shariat, and have little modesty. Some of them say that talaq requires a long procedure. This is totally false.The truth is that it may require a long procedure for a Muslim woman wanting divroce because she has to file a petition in court under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, and it is well known that in our country court cases take several years to decide, and even thereafter there may be appeals and second appeals. However, a Sunni husband can immediately divorce his wife by a triple talaq (talaq ul bidat). Such a talaq is not valid according to Shia law, but it is valid according to Sunni schools of jurisprudence, as held in the Privy Council decision in Rashid Ahmad vs. Anisa, A.I.R. 1932 P.C. 25.

Though the preferred manner of divorce is talaq ahsan or talaq hasan, yet talaq ul bidat is good in law, and is the most common and prevalent mode of divorce in India vide Amiruddin vs. Khatun Bibi (1917) 39 All.371, 375. See in this connection Mulla's Mahomedan Law, 19th edition, p.261, Ameer Ali's Mahomedan Law, 5th edition,p. 1556, etc.

As regards Khula and mubarraat divorce, both require agreement between husband and wife . The main distinction between khula and mubarraat is that in the former the aversion is on the part of the wife alone, but in the latter, the aversion is mutual. In a khula divorce an offer has to be made by the wife to the husband for agreeing to divorce her on payment of compensation by her, vide Ghulam Sakuna v. Umar Baksh, A.I.R. 1964 S.C. 456 at p. 459.

In Mulla's Principles of Mohamedan Law, 19th edition p. 265 it is stated that a Muslim marriage may be dissolved not only by talaq which is done unilaterally by the husband, but also by an agreement between husband and the wife. This agreement to dissolve the marriage may take the form of khula or mubarraat. Thus, in both khula and mubarraat there has to be an agreement between husband and wife. It follows, therefore, that if the husband does not agree there cannot be a khula or mubarraat divorce. In other words, khula and mubbarraat cannot be done unilaterally by the wife, unlike talaq which is done unilaterally by the husband. Hence the wife does not have the right to get a divorce even in khula form akin to the right of the husband.

All this indicates the inequality between man and woman in the shariat law of divorce. The Shariat was a creation of medieval times, when women were regarded as inferior to men. However, when society changes, the law too has to change, because the law reflects the social relations in a society at a particular stage of its historical development. Surely, laws made in Arabia in the 7th or 8th century cannot be applied in the 21st century. In the 7th or 8th centuries women were regarded as inferior to men, but the modern age is an age of equality and now discrimination against women is unacceptable, and has to be abolished.

I have mentioned all this in great detail because most of those who have criticized me have, at least by implication, indicated that a non-Muslim cannot be learned in Muslim Law, while a Muslim , who may not have studied Muslim law at all, by the mere fact that he is a Muslim, is an expert in Muslim law. This is obviously nonsense. Those who know little or nothing of Muslim law, just because they are Muslims, do not become an expert on Muslim law. Such persons need to learn to be a little more modest and polite.

India is a secular country.Non-Hindus have a right to criticize bad and oppressive Hindu customs e.g. the Caste system, and similarly non Muslims have a right to criticize bad Muslim customs or outdated, and oppressive Muslim laws and practices. Such criticism of bad customs and oppressive laws and practices do not amount to an attack on anyone's religion.


  1. Just as the word Jihad has been misinterpreted by some of the Muslims to practice terrorism for their own convenience, some of the Quranic sayings have been misinterpreted by a section of the community to practice certain rituals and form unjust Muslim laws.Such laws should not be termed as Muslim Personal Law. A true Muslim is one who follows "Islamic laws" with the true spirit of the sayings in the holy Quran. Please avoid such categorical statement as abolishing Muslim Personal Law. In fact the unjust practices that prevail in large section of Muslim world shall be abolished by bringing consensus in a committee of representative Ulemas of all sections of the Muslim community.

  2. June 2014 at 20:01

    Sir I think muslim law is now became oblivious, it should be revamped, especialy in the matter of marriage.

  3. Nice article sir, I love to read this types of articles. Thanks a lot to share with us...... Click here for Latest Govt Jobs, Tech news, Blogging Tiricks, Earning Tips and more....

  4. Unless and until the Bush men see that it is in their interest and well being that the bush has to be taken out of them will they see. The vitriolic that flies when someone disagrees with the Islamic perceptions are locust like and pathetic.

    You have rightly classified Shariat and Personal laws of Muslims as archaic . I would call it barbaric. Perplexing indeed is the mind that embraces a code of tribal laws made out in a barbaric era in the deserts of Arabia where tribal killings, and raving of women and seeing women as inferior an wiggles was the norm.

  5. Sir beautifully presented . Just I want to add further to Khula

    However, if a woman has the Shara'i right to demand a khul' and the husband refuses, she may go to the judge. The only reason she goes to the judge is because she does not have the right to enforce khul'. The judge looks at the situation and forces separation, even if the husband does not like it.


  6. For who don’t believe in Islam!

    Hamza Yusuf-:Secularism: The Greatest Challenge Facing Islam