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Fertility Behaviour Among Muslims


Ashish Bose

FAMILY PLANNING AMONG MUSLIMS IN INDIA
By M.E. Khan
Manohar Publication, New Delhi, 1979, pp. 198, Rs. 45.00

VOLUME IV NUMBER 5-6 March-April/May-June 1980

The question of fertility and the prac­tice of family planning among Muslims is the subject of considerable political controversy in India. The book under review makes an important contribution to demographic literature by presenting detailed statistics on Muslims in Kanpur city based on a sample survey of 330 Muslim couples. The field work was done by the author with the help of two male and two female investigators, as part of a bigger study conducted at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. On the controversial subject of diffe­rential fertility and family planning prac­tice by religion, Khan is silent because his data are confined to Muslims only. It is not possible, therefore, to support or contradict the thesis that Muslim fertility is higher than that of Hindus and that the practice of family planning is lower among Muslims. Khan, however, studies differen­tial fertility for two groups of Muslims—­Muslims with hereditary occupations (MHO) and Muslims with non-hereditary occupations (MNHO). According to census data, the percen­tage of Muslims in Kanpur City was 21.6 in 1951; it declined to 20.6 in 1961 and was 20.2 in 1971. Khan observes that the fall in the proportion of the Muslim popu­lation ‘can perhaps be attributed mainly to the difference in the number between Hindu and Muslim immigrants to the city.’ He notes that ‘Hindus are com­paratively in greater numbers in rural areas, hence this preponderance among the immigrants.’ In Kanpur city, the residential areas of· Muslims tend to be segregated from those of Hindus. Muslims are generally concentrated in small pockets in several Mohallas (localities). Khan gives a list of Mohallas where more than 80 per cent of the population is Muslim. He points out that ‘communal disturbances during the last fifty years have been largely respon­sible for the population segregation on the basis of religion.’ Turning to the social milieu, Khan observes that ‘the purdah system is very much prevalent and is strictly observed by all Muslim families. Even among educat­ed families, very few ladies are seen with­out a veil outside their homes.’ Marriage is invariably arranged by the parents. Khan observes that ‘before finalizing the negotiations, consent is taken from the boy through his mother or his friends (but) consent is generally not taken from the girls.’ Khan gives a description of high caste and low caste Muslims. It is disturbing to note that ‘the Hindu dowry system has taken its ...


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