Rethinking Muslim Personal Law: Issues, Debates and Reforms
Rethinking Muslim Personal Law: Issues, Debates and Reforms
Hilal Ahmad, R. K. Mishra, and K. N. Jehangir (eds)
Routledge 2022, 172 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-003-21188-4
Muzaffar Hussain Mir
The book under review attempts to deal with one such issue - Muslim personal law - which has become a tool for the dehumanisation of Muslims in India.1 It is divided into three thematic parts: History, Religion and Law; Politics and Law; and Gender and law. The first part of the book starts with a chapter by M. R. Shamshad who provides a historical view of the development of personal laws in India. The chapter traces the trajectory of the law from British times till the development of the principle of “essential religious practice(s)” by the Supreme Court of India. He endorses the idea of legal pluralism in light of the Report of the Law Commission of India. While the Muslim personal law is not codified and the Muslim community continues to ascribe to various schools of Islamic fiqh, it has been a failure on part of the ulema to bring uniformity of understanding of the basic sources of Islamic law – Qur’an and Sunnah. This led to the emergence of practices that were totally in violation of the Qura’nic fundamentals. The chapter further traces the Indian Supreme Court's approach to Muslim personal law from Shah Bano2 to its judgment in the Shayara Bano case.

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