“Bigamy is against the “˜letter and spirit” of Islam, Indian judge rules,” by Dean Nelson in The Telegraph, August 7:
Bigamy among India’s Muslims is against the “letter and spirit” of true Islam, the country’s law commission has ruled.
The ruling, by one of the country’s senior judges, has provoked a wave of anxiety throughout India’s secular establishment which has until now been content to let its 150 million Muslims live according to its own system of “personal law”.
“Personal law” like this and this? Surely India’s “secular establishment” is aware that the letter and spirit of Islam is fully compatible with democratic values such as equal rights for all regardless of gender or religious affiliation, criminal codes and punishments proportional to the crime, and Jihad as interior spiritual struggle against vice, or waged violently only for defensive purposes.
While bigamy has also been practiced by Hindus, it is more common among Muslims who believed they are justified in taking up to four wives.
“If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice” (The Qur’an, Surah An-Nisa 4:3)
The practice has been widely criticised in a number of court judgments as “cruel”, while one judge said there was no difference between a “second wife and a concubine”. Justice A.R Lakshmanan, the law commission chairman, and two other panelists, said: “Traditional understanding of Muslim law on bigamy is gravely faulty and conflicts with true Islamic law in letter and spirit.”
Good news indeed. Does Justice Lakshmanan provide decisive evidence of this conflict via the letter and spirit of the Qur’an, the life and teachings of Muhammad, the schools of Islamic Jurisprudence, historical precedent, and rulings from respected (even if minority view) scholars so that good Muslims and misunderstanders of Islam can take note and act accordingly?
“It is generally believed that under Muslim law, a husband has an unfettered right to marry again even where his earlier marriage is continuing.
“On a closer examination of the relevant provisions of the Koran and other sources of Islamic law, this does not seem to be true,” the report said.
Great, but please demonstrate and document how this does not seem to be true.
They said they had submitted their report to the government but stopped short of recommending legal reform because they feared it would cause an “unhealthy controversy” among religious leaders who opposed change.
What could be unhealthy such about reform which not only advances issues significant to gender rights and equality, but also “the “˜true letter and spirit” of Islam?”
Their concerns were born out by Muslim scholars, who said Islam provided for polygamy on the condition that the man is able to care for each wife financially and honour her physically.
“Polygamy is not mandatory in Islam but there is a provision for taking more than one wife. This provision is bound by pre-conditions that the man has to do justice to all his legal wives both physically as well as economically,” said Professor Akhtarul Wasey, Head of Islamic Studies at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University.