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Report No. 66

3.38. Legal position as to Muslim women.-

The same writer1 has summed up the legal position thus

"An ante-nuptial settlement by the husband in favour of the wife is a necessary condition, and on his failure to make a settlement the law presumes one in accordance with the social position of the wife. A Moslem marriage is a civil act, needing no priest, requiring no ceremonial. The contract of marriage gives the man no power over the woman's person, beyond what the law defines, and none whatever upon her goods and property. Her rights as a mother do not depend for their recognition upon the idiosyncrasies of individual judges. Her earnings acquired by her own exertions cannot be wasted by a prodigal husband, nor can she be ill-treated with impunity by one who is brutal.

She acts, if sui juris, in all matters which relate to herself and her property in her own individual rights, without the intervention of husband or father. She can sue her debtors in the open courts, without the necessity of joining a next friend, or under cover of her husband's name. She continues to exercise, after she has passed from her father's house into her husband's home, all the rights which the law gives to men. All the privileges which belong to her as a woman and a wife, are secured to her, not by the courtesies which "come and go," but by the actual text in the book of law. Taken as a whole, her status is not more unfavourable than that of many European women, whilst in many respects she occupies a decidedly better position. Her comparatively backward condition is the result of a want of culture among the community generally, rather than of any special feature in the laws of the fathers."

1. Ameer Ali Spirit of Islam (Christophers, London 1953), p. 257.

3.38A. Muslim women in Administration.-

In the field of administration, many Muslim women showed their excellence1, like Razia Beg-um (1236-1239 A.D.) and Chandbibi (16th century). Chandbibi, it may be noted, appeared on the ramparts of the fort of Ahmadnagar dressed in male attire and put heart in the defenders of that town against the prowess of Akbar in his battle against her (1595-1596 A.D.). The participation of Noor Jehan in administration is well-known.

1. K.M. Panikkar The Middle Period in Baig (Ed.) Women of India, (1958), pp. 9, 10, 11.

Married Womens Property Act, 1874 Back

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