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Islamic countries taking measures to end polygamy, why not India: Muslim personalities

Daulat Rahman/Guwahati

The Muslim community in Assam has responded positively to the State Government’s move to enforce new legislation to end polygamy. Even though the majority of Muslims particularly women, have backed the government’s move, they have sounded words of caution by saying the proposed law should not clash with the personal laws of the community.

Noted lawyer, activist, and teacher Shahnaz Rahman while welcoming the State Government’s initiative said that utmost care has to be taken in drafting the proposed legislation as it might clash with the Muslim Personal Law.

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“The clauses under the ‘Muslim Personal Law (Shariat), 1937 as construed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, apply to Muslims in India. Polygamy is not prohibited in Muslim legislation because it is recognized as a religious practice, hence they tend to preserve and practice it. When there is a disagreement between the Indian Penal Code and personal laws, the personal laws are implemented since it is a legal principle that a specific law supersedes the general law,” Shahnaz Rahman told Awaz-The Voice Assam.

According to Shahnaz Rahman generally, women will be safer and secure by the introduction of this kind of legislation to end polygamy for obvious reasons. Polygamy has a significant impact on Indian society and has been debated for its validity from a constitutional standpoint, particularly about religions such as Islam and Hinduism, she said.

Promising young poet Shaheen Akhtar says that one cannot deny the fact that polygamy was justly practiced during the times when Prophet Muhammad lived and it was exercised purely to give justice to the women of that era.

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“It is because many Muslims (male) were killed at the battle of Uhud and hence the concern for the orphans and the widows came into existence. As a result, it was permitted for a male to exercise polygamy as a responsibility to ensure social justice for the orphans. As such, Chapter IV, Verse 3 of the Holy Quran states: ‘And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if they fear that they cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess.

“Thus it is more likely that you will not do injustice. Hence, I feel, since practicing polygamy at the time of Prophet Muhammad was a social need, it proved to be just and apt. However, since the times now have changed and the situations are no more the same, so I believe practicing polygamy in today’s era is a threat to society and therefore taking effective measures against its practice is the need of the hour,” Shaheen whose book on English poems titled ‘Words From Dust’ published recently, said.

Nurse Rupjan Begum who was rewarded by the Central Government for giving Covid vaccines to over one lakh people said that many of those involved in polygamy get married to young girls who have attained the marriageable age legally. This results in teenage pregnancy, she said.

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I have handled many cases of teenage pregnancy where the girls had to take unbearable pain. In some cases, the pregnant girls and babies died after delivery. So, polygamy is a great injustice to women and it should be stopped,” Rupjan Begum said.

Eminent surgeon Padma Shri Dr. Illias Ali said that polygamy is one of the prime causes of the population explosion in the country. He, however, said it would be wrong to presume that polygamy is confined to the Muslim community only and thus the proposed legislation should address the problem from the larger perspective.

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Dr Ali who launched a Jihad to create awareness on family planning among Muslims in Assam, said that countries like Turkey and Tunisia have banned polygamy and it is subject to administrative or judicial control in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. “If the Muslim majority countries can take effective measures to end polygamy, why not India? I welcome the Assam Government’s move,” Dr. Ali, whose birth control measures have been published in several national and international magazines, newspapers, and journals, said.


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