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Gender and Community

Gender and Community: Muslim Women's Rights in India

Vrinda Narain
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 192
  • Book Info
    Gender and Community
    Book Description:

    Combines feminist analysis, post-colonial and critical race theory with legal analysis to critically assess issues of gender equality, minority rights and the accommodation of difference

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7517-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)

    In India, the legal status of Muslim women within the family is a topic of considerable controversy and debate. It is a complex issue that involves not only questions of gender justice, but also those of religious freedom, minority rights, and state policy towards the accommodation of difference. Personal law, based on religious laws as modified by state legislation and judicial precedent, governs family relations. Personal law is the only law in India that applies to individuals on the basis of their religious identity. Although the Constitution of India guarantees all citizens equality and freedom from discrimination, personal law denies...

  5. chapter one Contextualizing Muslim Personal Law
    (pp. 8-35)

    Muslim law as it developed in South Asia differs considerably from the strict Islamic law of the Shariat. J.D.M. Derrett prefers to refer to it as Muhammadan or Muslim law rather than Islamic law, noting that ʹThe term Islamic law is not incorrect but could give the false impression that anywhere in South Asia the true Shariat, (shariʹa) orfiqh, the jurisprudence of Islam, was in force unamended.ʹ¹ Joseph Schacht describes the Shariat as ʹan all embracing body of religious duties, the totality of Allahʹs commands that regulate the life of every Muslim in all its aspects.ʹ² In India, only...

  6. Chapter two Muslim Personal Law and the Constitutional Framework
    (pp. 36-74)

    In sharp contrast to Muslim personal law, the Constitution of India¹ guarantees to all citizens the fundamental right to equality under Article 14,² and the fundamental right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds, inter alia, of religion and sex under Article 15.³ In recognition of the conflict between the principle of equality and the discrimination sanctioned by personal law, Article 44 of the Constitution directs the state to enact a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).⁴ The Constitution also guarantees the fundamental right to freedom of religion under Article 25.⁵ This right seeks to affirm the stateʹs commitment to safeguarding the...

  7. chapter three Naming the Issues
    (pp. 75-105)

    The rise of religious fundamentalism and the politicization of religious identity are prominent features of Indian society today. A significant aspect of these trends has been the attack on womenʹs rights. Personal law has become the site for the contestation of power as the state and conservative religious leaders struggle to retain authority. Experience has shown that neither the state nor the representatives of the Muslim community have been willing to reform the law to grant Muslim women greater rights. Despite the adoption of a democratic, secular Constitution that guarantees equality and freedom from discrimination, Muslim women continue to be...

  8. chapter four Negotiating the Boundaries of Gender and Community: The Role of the State
    (pp. 106-140)

    The passage of the Muslim Womenʹs Act demonstrates the alliance between the state and fundamentalist leaders in the articulation of gender and community identity. Yet, the relationship between the state and fundamentalists is much more tenuous, complex, and nuanced than a simple mutual reinforcement of power and authority. Indeed, the ambivalence of this alliance is revealed by the campaign for the Act. The Ulema seek to safeguard their authority over the definition of group interests, holding up personal law as the signifier of Muslim identity and preventing state intrusion in this domain. The Ulemaʹs defensive reaction to state interference in...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 141-184)
  10. References
    (pp. 185-194)
  11. Cases Cited
    (pp. 195-196)
  12. Index
    (pp. 197-202)