Indian Muslim clerics oppose Law Commission’s report on bigamy

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), comprising mostly clerics, has opposed the Law Commission’s report on bigamy. The board’s spokesman said that it would take up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next month.

The Law Commission had in its 277th report to the central government said, “We fully agree with the fact that traditional understanding of Muslim law on bigamy is gravely faulty and conflicts with true Islamic law in letter and spirit.”

AIMPLB spokesman Qasim Rasool Ilyas told Hindustan Times that he and other board members held the view that Islam permits more than one marriage, up to four, under very stringent conditions.

“Justice is the base of bigamy. We will not tolerate any interference in personal law. The matter is outside the purview of the Law Commission,” Ilyas said.

Women’s groups have, however, supported the Law Commission report in view of the gross misuse of bigamy and polygamy.

Chairperson of the Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board Shaista Amber said, “Since the system is being misused, there should be some control over it.” She said rules permitting bigamy were extremely tight but were not being followed.

Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board member Rukhsana Lary said, “Islam has generally not permitted bigamy. It is permitted with conditions. The spirit of Islam doesn’t like it,” she said. Male clerics disagreed.

AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Nizamuddin said, “Bigamy or polygamy is not an order but permission with several riders.”

He said the Quran had laid down an “equal justice” formula with all the wives. “Even sexual justice is necessary,” said Shia Personal Law Board chairman Maulana Mirza Mohd Athar.

Shia cleric Agha Roohi Abaqati said, “The Law Commission should talk to clerics.” He claimed that no country, including Turkey and Tunisia, had outlawed bigamy or polygamy. “I know people in Turkey who are bigamists,” he said.


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