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A Handbook on Muslim Law


Furqan Ahmad

KNOWING OUR RIGHTS: WOMEN, FAMILY, LAWS AND CUSTOMS IN THE MUSLIM WORLD
By Women Living Under Muslims Laws [WLUML]
Young Zubaan, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 360, Rs. 650.00

VOLUME XXVIII NUMBER 7 July 2004

This book is an outcome of research and analytical study of groups of research scholars of various countries. No names of any individual has been mentioned as the author of this book. The acknowledgements have been offered by Women Living under Muslim Laws, which seems to be an organization of academic personalities. The acknowledgements give an explanation about the preparation of this work. It states that “As the largest and longest running of all WLUML’s collective project, the Women & Law in the Muslim World Programme has involved literally thousands of Women and Men, spanning over a decade and some twenty countries” (p. 5).   Gender bias prevails in most of the legal systems of the world. Women are subjected to discrimination in every walk of life. The law, particularly, personal laws and customary laws do not provide equality to women before law. “Women comprise 66 percent of the world’s illiterates and seventy percent of the world’s poors. Systematic violence against women clubbed within equalities result in the total denial of their rights.”1 To explore the areas of inequality is the focal point of the book under review which contains ten chapters, glossary, list of statutes of different countries where Muslims live in sizeable number, two annexes, bibliography and Index.   The authors point out that “originally, the network was an action committee, formed specifically in response to several specific cases that urgently required attention. In each of these cases, women are being denied rights by those who claimed to be acting in the name of Islam or with reference to “Islamic laws” (p. 15). Therefore, the book “aimed to mobilize and protest” with a view to “unmasking the political motives behind this denial of rights”. The implicit message conveyed by this book seems to be that Islamic law knows no means to cope with the advancement of culture and civilization as it has not moved beyond its medieval theocratic and fanatic connotations, stationary dogmas, principles and laws which are incapable of meeting the demands of modernity. This theme presents a biased view regarding Islamic law and its legal institutions. The approach adopted and purpose designed for this study makes the above inference of the reviewer clear. It is stated that “the W&L aims included demystifying what is presented as ‘law’ to women, examining the options available to us in law; distinguishing between customs applied to us and the law; and understanding ...


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