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About The Polygamy Law Among The Muslims In India
Muslim Law

About The Polygamy Law Among The Muslims In India

The Uniqueness Of The Islamic Law In India

Polygamy in India is generally prohibited in all religious communities except the Muslim community. The Muslim civil law is quite different from the laws of other religious communities. One major aspect of this uniqueness is that Islamic law generally allows the practice of marrying more than once. There is a basic difference between the marriage laws of Hinduism, the majority community of India, and Muslim, the primary minority community of India. While amongst the Hindus marriage is a sacrament, marriage in Islam, known as Nikah, is a civil contract between a man and woman to spend their life as husband and wife. In fact, as per the Muslim marriage act in the Indian Constitution, marriage is described as an act of devotion (known as Ibadat in Urdu and other Islamic languages).

Also read Muslim Marriage Law In India: Know About Marriage, Divorce, Second Marriage

The Revelation Regarding Polygamy  

As per the tradition, Prophet had said reportedly that marriage is an obligation for every physically & mentally fit practitioner of Islam. In fact, the Prophet had said that one who marries accomplishes half of his religion, while the other half can be accomplished by leading a righteous life.  

Besides, there are various schools of thought in Islam, that mandate that a man should adopt righteous means to earn a lawful livelihood. He should also pay Mahr and should provide the resources to bring up his wife and children.    

In the Islamic scriptures, there is a verse that allows the practice of polygamy. It was revealed to the Prophet after the battle of Ulhud. In this battle, many Muslims lost their lives. This caused many women to become widows and many children were rendered, orphans. Thus, it was incumbent upon the Muslim survivors to take care of these women and children.

The verse which was revealed to the Prophet was like this:

The verse goes like this, “If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them), then (marry) only one.”

Various facts become evident from this verse, namely:  

Polygamy is neither compulsory, nor it is encouraged, only it is permitted.

The allowing of polygamy is not about satisfying one’s passion. On the contrary, it is characterized by a lot of compassion towards women (widows) and children (orphans). This is a matter confirmed by the atmosphere which prevailed in the geography where this verse was revealed.

And despite this demanding situation and the noble intention, this permission is very much restricted when compared to the usual practice which was prevailing among the Arabs in Saudi Arabia those days, when many married more than 10 wives.   

So, dealing with one’s wife is an important part of life’s obligation. This includes to providing house, food, clothing, kind and fair treatment, which falls under the mandatory responsibility of the husband. However, if one can not deal with them justly, then as per the Quran, - Marry only one.

Justice Factor: The Verse Which Discourages Polygamy

Also, if you combine this verse with another verse in the same chapter, shows discouragement of these plural marriages.

The other verse puts it straight:

“You are never able to be fair and just as between women even if it is your ardent desire,” so goes the verse.

The need of justice and equality eliminates the provision of fantasy ‘that a man can possess as many wives as he pleases.’ Also, it does away with the concept of a secondary wife (the categorization of one’s wives for a polygamous man). This is so because all the wives should have the same status and all equally entitled to the claims and rights over their husbands.

Further, as per Islamic Law, should a husband fail to provide sufficient support to his wife, she can go to court and ask for a divorce.

The Word Is Marry

Also, the verse says marry and not abduct, seduce or buy.  Besides, what is marriage in Islam? Marriage in Islam is a civil contract and it cannot be validated unless both parties give their consent. Therefore, no woman can be married forcefully or given to a man who is already married.

Also read Can Hindu Women Inherit Property From Their Parents? The SC Decision That Changed It All.

Muslim Marriage Law In India: Know About Marriage, Divorce, Second Marriage
Muslim Law

Muslim Marriage Law In India: Know About Marriage, Divorce, Second Marriage

The Muslim marriage law in India is quite different from the marriage laws of other religions. Well, let us know all the broad points about the marriage laws that are prevalent in the Muslim community. Unlike in Hinduism, the institution of marriage in Islam, known as Nikah, is not actually a  sacrament but a civil contract between a man and woman.    

Marriage also comes up in the form of muamlat or a matter of worldly affairs that facilitates transactions between human beings. In Islam, marriage is called Sunnat, which means, it is a part of the practices and teachings put forward by the Prophet himself. Singlehood, monasticism, and celibacy are generally discouraged in Islam.

Also read Annulment of Marriage

Marriage Under Muslim Law In India

According to the Muslim Marriage Act, no prescribed ceremonies or special rites & rituals are required to sanctify a marriage or Nikah. At the same time, reasonable legal conditions, which establish the spirit of Islam, may be adhered to, in the civil contract.     

But, the following requirements are compulsory:  

Ejab-o-Kubool, i.e., offers by one party to the marriage and acceptance of it by the other party is the chief characteristic of a Muslim marriage.  Free mutual consent between the two parties should take place in the same meeting.

If the parties are Hanafis, the presence of two witnesses is required.  

Both the bride and groom should have attained puberty.

Both bride and groom or, when minor, their guardians, must be of sound mind.

Marriage should not be prohibited by other Muslim marriage rules depending upon the sect to which the parties belong.

The Peripheral Customs

Kazi recites the marriage sermon, the nikah (extracts from the Quran and Hadis). Guests may exchange gifts, offer prayers for the health and happiness of the couple.  

At the same time, registration of marriage is not mandatory. But it may create problems later while proving the marriage.

Muslim Marriage Law in India : The Legality Of Marriage

Once they are married, sexual intercourse between the couple becomes legal. The children born from this marriage are legitimate. According to the Muslim Marriage Law, the husband has to provide the maintenance of wife by food, clothing, lodging, and various things which are needed to support life as long as the wife is not a minor and thus incapable of consummation, lives with him & is faithful, and takes his reasonable orders. The husband should also provide for the children out of this marriage. Also, the terms and conditions stipulated in the marriage contract must be followed and respected.

The wife has the right of Mahr, which is a sum of money or other types of property to be provided by the husband as a mark of respect for the wife. The amount must be settled before or after marriage. It should be paid either on-demand or else on the annulment of marriage either by death or divorce. But, various schools and sects have variant rules about the payment for the same and about when or how the wife loses her right to the same. They can broadly inherit property from each other.

Dissolution Of Marriage Under Muslim Law In India

According to the Muslim marriage law of India, divorce is allowed under Islam and can be started by either of the two parties. The Quran prohibits a man from seeking reasons to divorce his wife if she is obedient and loyal to him. Prophet Mohammad restricted the unbridled power of divorce given to the husband and rendered the same right to the wife which she could exercise on reasonable grounds. The same point has been included in The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. Divorce was allowed by the Prophet but was not encouraged. The marriage can be dissolved by way of mutual consent.

Also read Property Rights Of A Wife After Her Husband’s Death – Is She The Legal Heir Of Husband’s Property In India?

Muslim Law Marriage Age In India

Well, the marriageable age for boys and girls in Muslim law is the age around when they reach puberty.  Various rules and bases of divorce differ from sect to sect. For instance, a minor married by his or her guardian, who is neither his or her father or paternal grandfather, can nullify the marriage once he or she attains puberty. After divorce, such a couple can not live together and after the divorce is final, they cannot acquire (inherit) property from each other. If some amount of Mahr is remaining, it becomes payable. The wife should get maintenance during the iddat period. The couple can remarry only if the divorced wife follows iddat, remarries another man and the second marriage gets consummated and mutually dissolved by the second husband and the wife observes iddat again.

Muslim Second Marriage Law In India

As per the Muslim Marriage Law, widows and divorcees can marry again. In case a woman’s husband dies or they get divorced, the woman should first observe a period of iddat. This is a period of waiting, after which she can remarry, irrespective of her age. In case the marriage was nullified by a divorce and had been consummated, then she has to wait for three menstrual cycles and if she is pregnant, until the delivery of the child. In case the marriage ended owing to the death of the husband, then irrespective of whether there was a consummation or not, she has to wait for 4 months and 10 days or, and if she is pregnant, till the delivery of the child, whichever period is longer.

You may also read How To Apply For Divorce

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