The question of Muslim personal law
has become not only a question of Muslim identity but also a question with
deeper political implications. The Muslim leadership doggedly resist any reform
in certain aspects of the law particularly pertaining to marriage and divorce
and the Hindu communal leadership would not accept anything short of complete
abolition of personal law pertaining to Muslims.
We have to take stock of various developments
which took place in India in last fifty years of our independence. It is also
important to take stock of developments among Muslims in this period, especially
with reference to reform movements in Indian Islam.
India opted to be a secular
country and this decision had several repercussions. Right at the stage of
constitution making there were debates about uniform civil code. There were
heated discussions. Muslim members opposed adoption of uniform civil code.
Ultimately a compromised was accepted.
Editor’s note: This famous short story by the late
Ismat Chugtai (1915-1991) was written in 1941 and banned by the then State
Government on charges of obscenity. Ismat Chugtai challenged this decision and
won her law suit.
Bihar is among the most
socially and economically backward states in India. Social inequality in Bihar
is amply visible. In order to illustrate the socio-economic context within which
underprivileged groups (including Muslim communities) exist in Bihar, it is
necessary to highlight a few statistics from the state. While there does not
exist a direct causal relationship between customary practice and socio-economic
conditions, both are also not mutually exclusive.
At the beginning of the
women’s emancipation struggle among the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent
access to education and the campaign against Purdah were the main points.
The late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries were
characterized by considerable debate on these issues in the Muslim community,
throughout India. The reform effort by men on behalf of women was sparked by the
considerable progress made by other communities in India and was inspired by
changes taking place in Muslim countries of the Middle East.