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Glimpses from Woman in Islam written by

Late Shri Ram Swarup


Author: Pankaj Prasad October 8, 2016

This article has been written to illustrate Islamic theological and historical positions behind the recent
affidavit submitted by All India Muslim Personal Law Board AIMPLB in Supreme Court recently.
Assertions and arguments of Shri Swarup from his book Woman in Islam, whenever quoted verbatim
have been italicized. Further, authentic sources available online on internet have been additionally quoted
to support the facts mentioned in this book.

As Shri Rajiv Malhotra explains, the tradition of purvapaksha (studying your opponents point of view
thoroughly); developing deeper understanding of outsiders who often come in different grabs
masquerading their intent as well as identity, is important for building proper defence of ones society.

Late Shri Ram Swarup, founder of the non-profit publishing house Voice of India, can be termed as the
pioneer of purvapaksha of Islamic society. He was one of the great thinkers who rekindled this tradition
of purvapaksha which Dharmic society had forgotten.

His book Woman in Islam was first published in 1994 to understand cultural and theological position of
woman, her rights and obligations in Islam. This book is of historic importance because not only could it
very well explain Muslim ulemas position on maintenance after divorce (Shah Bano case), but it could
also forecast the position of Muslim clerics and AIMPLB, some 22 years later in another case the recent
Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Shayara Bano in the Supreme Court of Bharat.

As a tribute to this great visionary son of Bharatvarsha, I am bringing some highlights of this book
Woman in Islam before todays discerning readers.

Shri Ram Swarup also exposes in this book, with surgical precision and accuracy, the Hindu-phobic
Indian-Liberal, who will never fight for cause of betterment of condition of Muslim woman. His
observation is true even after more than two decades

Discerning readers can refer to this recent article by Flavia Agnes to understand the typical Indian
liberal stand on triple talaq and Muslim womens rights : http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/20/web-
exclusives/muslim-womens-rights-and-media-coverage.html

Summary of Preface

In the preface itself, Shri Ram Swarup hints that it has been painful to write those essays and it must be
painful to read them too. He further declares that problem of woman in Islam is more ideological than
legal. In deeper conceptualization, Islams world has been a male world in which woman has held frankly
a low position.

He also foresee that getting the desired change, in response to new social mores and needs is not easy.
Firstly, the growing voices of protest against this low treatment of woman are very feeble and secondly
Islamic laws on marriage and divorce are not just social legislation, these are revealed truths, Allahs
commandments, therefore, unalterable.
Shri Swarup further posits that attempt to humanize Muslim legislation through reinterpretation of the
Quran, is not possible within the present ideational framework of Quran and the Sunnah. It will be self-
defeating, as it will strengthen the very sources of the ideas which have kept the woman down.

He also mentions that Islam has treated her women badly enough, but it has treated its neighbours far,
far worse. The two problems are not unconnected, as they arise from same ideology. Historically too,
religious ideologies that have been unkind to women have been cruel to their neighbours.

He concludes that Hindu-phobic Hindu Liberals are worse than Muslim liberals. These Hindu
liberals would never support a person like Taslima Nasreen, who was hounded out from her own
country Bangladesh as well as parts of Bharat like West Bengal, due to her expose of plight of Muslim
women in her earlier writings, and persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh in her 1993 novel Lajja.

Summary of Chapter 1: Woman in Islam

Shri Ram Swarup claims that individual cases (like Shah Banos maintenance) will not lead to better
understanding of the underlying problem, and it will fail to throw any light on the larger subject. There is
a larger framework of Islamic laws on marriage, divorce, dower, polygamy that involves the very question
of womans place in Muslim theology.

The Muslim law, Sharia, on these questions derives from the Quran and Hadis as interpreted by Muslim
Fiqh

Different regions of Muslim world have different variations of Sharia in practice. In Bharat, Hanifah
school Fiqh interpretations is more prevalent. Most importantly, the book of this school is Hidayah
(Guidance), written by Burhan al-Din al-Marghinani.

Customary practices of a region, particularly Arabian practice, also had force of law, but Shariat pretends
that this source does not exist or is evil.

Shri Swarup says that position of woman in pre-islamic Arabia was not as depressed as it subsequently
became. He cites the example of prophets first wife Khadijah who used to run her own business, engage
her own employees and chose her own husband.

He also cites the example of Hind, a very independent and courageous lady of her time. He asserts that
women in Medina enjoyed even more independence than in Mecca at the time of Hijra (Islamic Prophet
Muhammads migration from Mecca to Medina).

Shri Swarup concludes that with the new social order of Islam, which was introduced as divine
revelations, it was impious to question, and womans position in society deteriorated. To the practice of
Polygamy were added Veil (Purdah) and seclusion. The new Revelation was frankly on side of man.
Men have pre-eminence above women (Quran 4.34)

Al Ghazzali, perhaps the most influential theologian of Muslim history, explains the above verse to mean
that merit has one thousand components, only one of which is attributable to women. While nine
hundred ninety nine are attributable to men.

Shri Swarup draws the final inference that probably a womans depressed position in Muslim theology
has also tended to make her position depressed in Muslim Society as well. He further stresses this point
that the Quranic God is palpably masculine and he waged a relentless war against pre-islamic Godesses
like Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and Al-Manaat.

Summary of Chapter 2 : Marriage in Islam

Shri Swarup writes that many cultures take sacramental view of marriage except Islam that regards
marriage as a social contract which creates certain social and sexual obligations further fortified with
religious sanction. Celibacy has no part in Islam, as Muhammad was against celibacy in his followers and
enjoined marriage upon them as a command of Allah.

Muslim law and tradition prohibits marriage on many grounds. Shri Swarup quotes verses 4.23 and 4.24
from Quran, which lay the foundation of Muslim law on marriage.

Prohibited to you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your fathers sisters, your mothers
sisters, your brothers daughters, your sisters daughters, your mothers who nursed you, your sisters
through nursing, your wives mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship born of your
wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you, and
the wives of your sons who are from your loins, and that you take in marriage two sisters
simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.
(Additional Source: https://quran.com/4:23)

Following are some of rules regarding Muslim marriage which Shri Swarup describes

A Muslim cannot marry a married woman until she is divorced, but prohibition does not apply to women
captured in war. The Qurans verse 4.24 explains this And (also prohibited to you are all) married
women except those your right hands possess. (This is the) decree of Allah upon you. (Additional
Source: https://quran.com/4/24)

A Muslim may marry Kitabee woman (woman from religion following book, like Jew, Christian) but not
a polytheist woman. But a polytheist woman can be kept as a concubine. The Quran verse 2.221- And do
not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist,
even though she might please you. (Source: https://quran.com/2/221)

A slave cannot enter into marriage without permission of his master, for among conditions of a valid
marriage contract are discretion, puberty (bulugh) and freedom (hurriyyat), the last of which he lacks.

For more details on treatment of slaves, concubines men and women captured in war, readers can refer
here and here.

A marriage contract need not be written. The contract consists of two parts declaration and acceptance. A
Muslim marriage where both parties are Muslim can be contracted in presence of two male witnesses, or
one man and two women, who are sane adult and Muslims.

Consent of a girl who has attained age of discretion is necessary for a valid marriage. Woman expresses
her consent by her silence or smile. However a marriage without a guardian of woman is considered void
and woman doing so is considered adulteress.
In Islam, there are provisions of temporary marriages called Nikah mutah (practiced by Shia
Muslims), Nikah al-Misyar (travellers marriage practiced by Sunni Muslims) and Nikah urfi (practiced
by those who cannot afford high cost of marriage)

A Muslim woman is entitled to equality in choice of her husband. She has the right to be married to a man
of similar or superior social rank, but cannot marry someone beneath her in social rank. Shri Swarup
quotes the below from Al-Hidayah, a 12th-century legal manual by Burhan al-Din al-Marghinani

Husband be the equal of his wife, but it is not necessary that the wife be the equal of his husband, since
men are not degraded by cohabitation with women who are their inferiors.

For this purpose, Al- Hidayah explains further that some Muslims are more equal than others, and
describes the order of Muslims for inter-marriageability. Local converts are called Ajlaf (low born) and
Arzal (working class). Ashrafs being (sons of Mohammed) descendants of Arabs, have highest status in
the Indian sub-continent.

Above law of Al-Hidayah on womans entitlement to equality in choice of husband, effectively rules out
marriage of women from higher social strata with men from lower social strata; however the reverse is
permitted.

Summary of Chapter 3: Marriage Rights and duties

Since Muslim marriage is a contract, marrying man and woman have their rights and duties. Obligations
of a wife are defined by the Quran verse 2.223

Your wives are a tilth for you; so approach your wives when and how you like but take heed of your
ultimate future; and fear God and know that you shall meet Him; and give good tidings to those who obey
[Quran 2:223] (Note tilth: cultivable land)

In return, the wife has right to maintenance (nafaq or nafaqah). When the marriage is consummated, the
husband becomes responsible for providing his wife and children born of the marriage with food,
clothing, and shelter regardless of the wifes own resources. The right to nafaq is obligatory in nature, and
needs to be paid even at cost of solvency, as stated in Quran.

Men are protectors and maintainers of women because God has given them the one more than the other,
and because they support them from their means [their wealth] (Quran 4: 34 https://quran.com/4/34)

Muslim marriage, though favoring man with polygamy and concubinage, demands faithfulness from
man and woman alike. Extra marital sexuality is Zina, that is punished heavily. It covers both adultery
(extra-marital sex) and fornication (pre-marital sex).

Following Quranic verses deal with Zina

Nor come nigh to fornication/adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other
evils). The Quran, 17.32 (https://quran.com/17/32)

The woman and the man guilty of fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not
compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last
Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment. TheQuran 24.2.17
(https://quran.com/24:2 )

Penalty for fornication as suggested above is 100 lashes. For Zina to be proven needs four witnesses,
and in absence of witnesses, accuser need to be lashed as per below verse

And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving) eighty stripes,
and do not admit any evidence from them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors. Except those who
repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. The Quran 24.4 and 24.5
(https://quran.com/24:4)

However, for adultery the Quran verse 4.15 provides for confinement of guilty women in houses until
death, whereas the following hadith prescribes death by stoning (Lapidation/ Rajm)

Allahs Messenger awarded the punishment of stoning to death to the married adulterer and adulteress
and, after him, we also awarded the punishment of stoning, I am afraid that with the lapse of time, the
people may forget it and may say: We do not find the punishment of stoning in the Book of Allah, and
thus go astray by abandoning this duty prescribed by Allah. Stoning is a duty laid down in Allahs Book
for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or if there is pregnancy, or a
confessionSahih Muslim, 17:4194

Incidentally this death by stoning is the same as Old Testament law. It is still followed in Islamic
society. However in practice, proving adultery against a powerful accused is next to impossible due to the
requirement of four witnesses; this law is essentially used more as a political tool against poor people and
women.

Summary of Chapter 4: Polygamy and Concubinage- towards Monogamic reform

Shri Swarup states that the Quran takes for granted the institution of polygamy and concubinage that
prevailed among Arabs at the time of Prophet, but it froze the custom by giving it divine sanction.

Any worthwhile Muslims harem consisted of two categories of women

One included wives proper on whom some dower was bestowed, their number was restricted to four.
(https://quran.com/4:3 )

The other category included half wives or concubines consisting of women purchased or gifted and also
captured in holy wars and received as war booty. The Quran describes these concubines as women whom
your right hand possesses. A man can have as many concubines as his means, capacity and
opportunity.

Even in the first category, the limitation meant four wives at a time, as wives can be legally replaced to
maintain this number at any time. The Quran verse 4.20 sanctions this. (https://quran.com/4:20)

Shri Swarup mentions that in spite of this limit of four wives, the grandson of Prophet Hasan Ibn Ali had
children from sixteen wives and concubines.

Monogamy
Shri Swarup says that under pressure of new moral forces, many Muslims apologists and reformers
claim, that properly understood, the Prophet taught monogamy. These apologists give the specious
argument that since Quran teaches equal treatment to wives, and practically it is not possible, so actually
Quran teaches monogamy.

However Shri Swarup simply trashes this argument. He says that tenor of verse is very clear that it
permits plurality of wives. In fact some commentators have read in this verse support for nine wives
(2+3+4), others even for eighteen. Anyway even if there is restrictions on the number of wives, there is
no restriction on the number of concubines, without offending the Quranic law or the Muslim public
morality.

Shri Swarup further stresses that Monogamy is not supported by the ethics of the Quran read as whole,
nor by example of Prophet and his companions, nor by tradition, nor by fiqh.

He concludes that polygamy and concubinage were political institutions, feeding fast growing Islamic
Imperialism. Islamic society practiced aggressive wars and annexed outside territories as suppliers of
slave men and women. Jihad and conquest of infidel lands provided a continuous supply of captives, men
and women, who were further bred for more slave trade. Politically too polygamy and concubinage were
useful. One Arab or Turk with many slave concubines became sire of numerous progeny. This helped
Muslim expansion and colonization and strengthened its demographic and administrative base.

Summary of Chapter 5: Dower (Mehr) in Islam- Its meaning and nature

Shri Swarup writes that practice of dower (mehr) in early Islamic society was heavily influenced by
practices of pre-Islamic societies of Arabs, Hebrews and Egyptians. The very word used in the Old
Testament for dower is mehr, the same as in the Quran.

He cites the code of Hammurabi on dower to show surprising similarity between this code and Muslim
Law. A man may divorce his legitimate wife by refunding her dowry as well as her bridal price or
paying her instead of the bridal price one mina of silver. If he divorced a concubine (captured woman)
the woman received her dowry and half of the estate to raise the children, after the children were grown,
she received one portion of estate equal to that of one son.

He further quotes the Bible to make a point that, in its larger conception too, Muslim law follows the old
lead. In this conception, dower is regarded as a purchase price for the sexual favours received from the
woman. According to the Bible, if a man seduced a girl he shall give to the father of young woman fifty
sheckles of silver (Deut 22.29) and make the girl his wife.
(http://www.biblestudytools.com/deuteronomy/22.html)

Islam borrowed heavily from this Biblical revelation.

Shri Swarup highlights that dower is also called ujoor or ujrat (wages). He quotes the Quran verse 33.50
in support of this practice. ( https://quran.com/33:50 )

O Prophet, indeed We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have given their due
compensation and those your right hand possesses...

Also verse 4.24 and 4.25 indicate nature of dower is wages or due compensation. (https://quran.com/4:24)
A woman becomes entitled to dower if marriage is consummated, and for only half the dower if marriage
is unconsummated. (The Quran verse 2.237 if you divorce them before you have touched them..pay them
one half of what you have settled- https://quran.com/2:237 )

The Quran verse 2.236 further states that There is no blame upon you if you divorce women you have
not touched nor specified for them an obligation. But give them [a gift of] compensation the wealthy
according to his capability and the poor according to his capability a provision according to what is
acceptable, a duty upon the doers of good (https://quran.com/2:236)

From all above citations Shri Swarup draws this final conclusion:

It appears from a perusal of the Quran, the Sunnah and Fiqh that the Muslim law has no idea of
maintenance of a divorced woman in modern sense of word. She is entitled to dower but that is a very
different thing in conception and intent and it does not amount to maintenance as such.

This deeper analysis of nature of dower brings clarity to underlying cause for Indian Islamic orthodoxys
counter position in case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum (1985 SCR (3) 844) on the issue of
maintenance.

Summary of Chapter 6: Marriage and Dower

Some dower, big or small, is incumbent on a Muslim husband. It is prescribed by revelation and
supported by tradition. It need not be in terms of money, it could also be in terms of goods excepting
wine, hog and few such other things. It could also be in terms of labour as is not degrading for husband,
states Shri Swarup.

He also cites example of Moses and Isaac who worked for their in-laws to fulfill the obligation of dower,
for marrying their daughters respectively.

A proper dower (mehr misl) of any woman is to be regulated, in amount or value, by that of her paternal
relations. A dower can be high or low according to the circumstances of the parties concerned. But it can
never be less than 10 Dirhams or equivalent money. This minimum is derived from what the Prophet is
believed to have said,-there is no dower under ten dirhams.

(Additional source on dower: https://toplawsearch.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/kinds-of-dower/)

Though there is no upper limit on dower, the tendency of parents in upper strata of most Muslim countries
is to fix it on the higher side, as it is a mark of social status and prestige.

Dower (mehr) is not cash payment but a future promise for payment, which a woman can and normally
does forgo. As the Jurists of Islam argue, the dower is purely a right of woman which she is at liberty to
renounce.

Revelation in the Quran verse 4.4 provides for this remission. And give the women [upon marriage] their
[bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and
ease (https://quran.com/4:4)

Shri Swarup describes a peculiar one sided nature of dower and its application in cases of Muslim
divorce. If a Muslim woman seeks divorce from her husband due to abuse or tyranny (called Khula), this
act frees the husband from the liability of stipulated mehr. Tyrant husbands often force this kind of
divorce on their brides in order to escape from liability of dower. In Khula divorce, a woman not only
forgoes her mehr, but sometimes also pays the husband some compensation.

Quran verse 4.128 supports this form or securing release from marriage by payment of compensation to
husband. (https://quran.com/4/128- And if a woman fears from her husband contempt or evasion, there is
no sin upon them if they make terms of settlement between them)

Shri Swarup poses this intriguing question But whom should she go to with her plea, to enforce this
limited right Muslim woman has for improving her marital position, as in Hanafi school followed by
Sunni Muslims there is no such channel.

While a Muslim man can divorce his wife for any reason or no reason at all, the law recognizes no
ground on which a woman could go to a Qazi for dissolution of her marriage. In matter of Talaq Muslim
man has all the initiative, a woman none.

He concludes the chapter on a sombre note:

The improvement of womans position in Islam is a difficult matter. It goes beyond re-interpretation of
scriptural texts or liberal legislation or new reformist trends. Islam has been eminently a mans religion
in which woman holds a low position as a matter of course.

Summary of Chapter 7: Divorce (Talaq)

According to a tradition, divorce is hateful to Allah but it is perfectly legal and it appears to have been
made pretty easy for those who are so minded.

Shri Swarup further describes details of pronouncement of divorce:

A divorce can be pronounced personally or delivered from a distance through a letter; it can be explicit
or implied. It could be expressed metaphorically, like take veil, or join your people and this amounts
to divorce. It can be expressed in the language of gestures, for example by dropping three pebbles. If a
man says to his wife, you are under divorce thus, holding up his thumb and fore and middle finger,
three divorces become effective. Divorce can be pronounced monosyllabically or in full sentence; it can
be pronounced separately, you are divorced, divorced, divorced or collectively, you are divorced
thrice. In fact, the Hidayah takes many pages in discussing the grammar and arithmetic of these
pronouncements.

A divorce is automatic as soon as word talaq is repeated three times. If wife is bond-maid two time will
do. The religious leaders have issued fatwa in past that according to the Prophet, words (three times
word talaq) uttered unintentionally or even for sake of fun are binding.

A good talaq is one where a husband repudiates a wife by three divorces in three tubres spaces
intervening between three menstrual fluxes.

A triple talaq delivered in one sitting is bad, though still perfectly legal.

Shri Swarup gives example of how rigid the system of talaq is, by giving the example of Pakistan where
High court ruled that registering of talaq in local council was mandatory for talaq to be effective.
However, under pressure of Islamic scholars, Supreme Court invalidated this requirement of written
notice.

Further, a woman could be charged for Adultery if her former husband denied having divorced her.

Returning to the wife (Rijaat)

A man can return to his wife or take back his wife provided it is first or second talaq and woman has not
ended her iddah (the period a woman must observe after the death of her spouse or after a divorce, during
which she may not marry another man. Its purpose is to ensure that the male parent of any offspring
produced after the cessation of a nikah (marriage) would be known). More details can be found at
http://www.quran.mu/taking-back-a-wife-after-a-talaq-divorce-in-islam.html

But if a woman is divorced by three talaq, man cannot marry her again unless she is married to a third
party and they have consummated the marriage. (The Quran verse 2.230 And if he has divorced her
[for the third time], then she is not lawful to him afterward until [after] she marries a husband other than
him. And if the latter husband divorces her [or dies], there is no blame upon the woman and her former
husband for returning to each other- https://quran.com/2/230)

The institution of Muhallil or Nikah Halala emerged out of this peculiar situation when a woman or man
divorced by triple talaq, again want to marry each other. Verse 2.230 clearly reveals that this is not
possible unless Nikah Halala is performed with a third person and the man and woman lived as husband
and wife together.

Summary of Chapter 8: Forms of Divorce Custody of Children

Khula is a form of divorce where Muslim woman buys divorce from her husband by forgoing her dower,
and at times paying compensation. But she could not approach any Qazi for seeking Khula.

However she got rights to approach the court for dissolution of marriage through a 1939 law called
Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, enacted by the British on petition of Ulema themselves, who were
faced with the situation of conversion by unhappy Muslim women who converted to free themselves from
unwanted marriage.

Shri Swarup writes that here Ulema themselves indicated that Shariyat is not final for them. He
emphasized that now that fundamentalism is on the rise in Muslim countries, the threat of conversion is
no threat- the Muslim law of apostasy would take care of it.

Ila (vow) is another form of divorce. In Ila, the husband takes an oath not to have sexual intercourse with
his wife. Followed by this oath, there is no consummation for a period of four months (two months in
case of slave). After the expiry of the fourth month, the marriage dissolves irrevocably. But if the husband
resumes cohabitation within four months, Ila is cancelled and the marriage does not dissolve.

Zihar (back) is a form of talaq of historical importance only. Here, husband compares his wife with a
woman within his prohibited relationship e.g., mother or sister etc. The husband would say that from
today the wife is like his mother or sister. After such a comparison the husband does not cohabit with his
wife for a period of four months. Upon the expiry of the said period, Zihar is complete.
Lian (Laan) or imprecation is another form of divorce that operates when a husband levels charges of un-
chastity or adultery against his wife with no witnesses. The wife has got the right to ask for divorce on
grounds of character assassination. Lian does apply when both parties are slaves, infidels or Kitabees.

Since Adultery (zina) is punishable with stoning (rajm) in Shariyat, and prescribes eighty lashes to
husband who fails to prove the charge, sometimes lian is lucky escape for both to break marriage without
invocation of Shariyats punishment for adultery.

Shri Swarup says that Lian is similar/close to Christian practices which are still followed by Indian
Christians in form of 1869 Indian Divorce Act.

Custody of children

Divorce often involves children, the issue of their custody and care. In Muslim law, the custody of infants
belongs to the mother while their maintenance is obligation of father. The mother has a right of custody
for a male child until the child is capable of taking care of his own basic bodily needs this has been set
as seven years of age. In the case of a female, the mother has this right of custody until she reaches
puberty. The right of custody will be taken away from the mother if she apostatizes, or marries a stranger,
or changes her domicile. Then the right of custody transfers to grandparents. A custodian mother cannot
handle or look after property interests of the child, as she is regarded as deficient in discretion.

Taking up of foundling (laqeet) an orphan child, or a child abandoned by parents is laudable in


Islamic law. Its maintenance is to be defrayed from public treasure. The child owns nothing to benefactor
who brought him up as it is a gratuitous act.

Summary of Chapter 9: The Problem of reform

Shri Swarup contends that Muslim laws on marriage, divorce, polygamy or dower, are not a patchwork
but they reveal a great inner consistency. They have grown out of a particular conception of man and
woman and they subserve that conception.

They also show that the problem of raising the status of woman in Islam is a big problem. It requires
more than providing pecuniary aid to indigent divorcees under some sections of Constitution. It requires
a change of mind, a more humane and less theological approach.

Shah Banus case is painful and it strikes a sympathetic chord in every heart not hardened and made
insensitive by theology and politics.

Shri Swarup further appeals that Muslim males should learn to look at problem as parents and brothers
too and not merely as husbands.

Muslim women too should play a greater role than they have hitherto done in their struggle for more
freedom and dignity.

Here Shri Swarup makes a scathing comment on Indian liberals who could otherwise have helped
Muslim women in this struggle.

But they are a most phoney lot as their history shows they have merely been aids and abettors of
Muslim Leaguers and Muslim fundamentalists.
Reform

On possibility of Islamic reform in treatment of woman in Islam, Shri Swarup has this to say

Any durable work will require leaders of the new intellectual movement to question the basic ideology
and assumptions of their society, its thoughts and practices. Indeed they will be called upon to question
Islam itself. We have the example of Europe where another similar faith with its own brand of
fundamentalism prevailed not long ago. But the break came not with Lutheranism, but with rationalism
and science which offered different worldview, an alternative ideological framework. Islam has yet to
undergo this Rationalist Revolution.

Some liberal Muslims seeking reforms and amelioration in condition of Muslim women, in the name of
the Quran and hitherto undiscovered true Islam are falsifying history and this (falsification) can never
take these reformers very far.

He advises serious Muslim intellectuals will have to proceed in a different way. They will have to reject a
good deal of fundaments of Islam and would be called upon to provide a new ideological lead. Quoting
stray verse from the Quran in support of a reform of the day will not do.

Shri Swarup concludes this chapter and this great book by criticising Supreme Court in Shan Banus case,
for quoting in its judgement verse 2.241 of the Quran And for divorced women is a provision
according to what is acceptable a duty upon the righteous

He builds his criticism as under

that this verse may mean what Supreme Court supposes, but this meaning is not supported by overall
spirit of Quran, nor by life of the Prophet and his companions, nor by any Fiqh school. No Islamic court
ever granted a maintenance to a divorced woman for life or till she was married.

The Supreme Court overrided its work, it became interpreter of teachings of the Quran. It was enough for
the integrity of the Court if its decision interpreted the law of the land and was in consonance with human
and moral law and conscience. Indian courts should not try to pretend that they are as good as or even
better than the Shariat courts of some Muslim countries.

I will conclude this article with this note:

Today, people sympathetic to the cause of emancipation of Muslim woman, are waiting with bated
breath and crossed-arms, if the Supreme Court of Bharat will heed to advise and criticism of this great
scholar, this time in another Banos plea.