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Comparative Perspectives

Rohini Rangachari

By Asaf A.A. Fyzee and revised by Tahir Mahmood
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 458, Rs. 595.00


On the 24th of June 2005, The Hindu reported that the Union Cabinet had approved the introduction of a comprehensive Bill to protect women from domestic violence of any kind including dowry-related harassment. The Bill envisages granting protection to women from actual violence and from a threat of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse; coverage under the Bill extends to sisters, widows, mothers and single women. Thus, all women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser where both parties have lived together in a shared household and are related by consanguinity, marriage or adoption are to be protected.   Just four days later, on the 28th of June 2005, The Hindu reported that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board had supported an Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband’s edict that a woman who had been allegedly raped by her father-in-law in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, cannot be allowed to live with her husband any longer. She has been ordered to live with her father-in-law. The now much written about Imrana case has attracted much media attention, but little judicial scrutiny. How can we on the one hand, applaud the introduction of a bill in parliament which aims at protecting women’s rights, while in the same breath, turn a blind eye on an edict rendered by an Islamic seminary? Is it not time to examine Mohammadan law proper as ruled by independent bodies which are meant to uphold and deliver justice rather than give weight to random interpretations given by an Islamic institution?   Originally published in 1965, Asaf A.A. Fyzee’s Cases in the Muhammadan Law of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh attempts to do just this. In 1965, it was written as a companion volume to Fyzee’s authoritative Outlines of Muhammadan Law (3rd Edition, 1964) intended for students and teachers. This revised second edition published in 2005 makes available in one text the original forty-three cases along with the author’s commentary and extracts from judgements, as well as ninety-three new cases related to developments in Muhammadan law since 1965.   Divided into nineteen sections with a short summary at the end of each section entitled “update”, the book begins by tracing the origins of Islamic law proper. It notes that Islamic law, comprising the Shari’at (sacred law) and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) was introduced into India soon after the conquest of Sind by Muhammad bin Qasim in AD 712, but that it ...

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