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Report No. 227

Chapter VI

Bigamy by non-Muslims on Embracing Islam

Bigamy by conversion - viz. a second marriage by a married non-Muslim man after conversion to Islam - is a common practice in India. The man having resort to it is given to believe by the lawyers ignorant of the true Islamic law that on becoming a Muslim he will be legally entitled to freely marry again irrespective of his previous marital status. This mistaken belief militates against the letter and spirit of the Islamic law on bigamy.

If the conversion in any such case is sham - as in most such cases it indeed is - the second marriage will be a fraud on Islamic law and can have no recognition in it. If the conversion is genuine the second marriage can be allowed subject to the bar of equal treatment of the co-wives, which obviously would be impossible in such a case. In either case therefore the second marriage will be repugnant to the Islamic religion and law.

As regards converts to Islam opting for bigamy, their conversion must be judged by the Prophet's general verdict saying that "Effect of an action is governed by the underlying intention" and so conversion by a married non Muslim man motivated by a desire to have another wife is of doubtful religious validity. But even where conversion seems to be genuine, it cannot be a license for indulging in bigamy by deserting the first wife in violation of Islam's insistence on treating co-wives with unexceptional equality and equal justice.

The fact, of course, is that conversion in such cases is invariably a humbug and is generally followed by formal or informal re-conversion of 33the newly-wed to their original faith - in fact they never convert to Islam from the heart. This shuttle-cock playing with various religions is not checked by our existing law, though it is neither allowed by the religion which is dishonestly adopted nor sanctioned by the one that is forsaken for selfish ends.

What married Hindu men do and are helped with by illeducated religious functionaries and misinformed lawyers is a fraud on Hinduism, a disgrace to Islam, a cruel joke on the freedom-of-conscience clause in the Constitution of the country and a criminal scheming against the law of the land.

Preventing Bigamy via Conversion to Islam - A Proposal for giving statutory effect to Supreme Court Rulings Back

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