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Muslim Family Law, Secular Courts and Muslim Women of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh: A Study in Judicial Activism [Hardcover]

Alamgir Muhammad Serajuddin

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Book Description

Dec 31 2010
The classical Shari'a law on family relations is based on patriarchal family organization and male privileges, leading to legal and social discrimination against women, which is incompatible with present-day notions of gender equality and social justice. The discrimination is especially pronounced in such vital matters as marriage, divorce, maintenance, guardianship and custody of children and inheritance; and yet, these are the institutions which form the bed-rock of security and stability in family life. In view of the sensitiveness of the issue of family law reform, the legislative and executive organs of the state are reluctant to address these discriminations. But the courts cannot refuse to adjudicate, when social justice issues are addressed to them; for, to deny relief is to nullify the judicial process and negate justice. In an admirable display of scholarship and creativity, the South Asian judiciary has shown that, by giving a liberal and pro-active interpretation to the rules of Muslim family law, it is possible to adapt many of them to the needs of a modern society, from within the Islamic legal framework. The book examines the extent to which the pro-active roles of the courts have liberalized these laws, enlarged the dimensions of women's rights and contributed to secure equality of rights and social justice to Muslim women. The book also deals with conservative opposition to judicial law making and locates further areas where judicial activism may be useful. As India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have inherited the same legal traditions, the book argues that they can share one another's post-colonial experiences. Furthermore, the book finds that in the absence of legislation reflecting the ijma or consensus of the Muslim community, judicial activism is the only alternative agent of social change.

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Review

The book is an outstanding contribution to the field of comparative Muslim family law in South Asia. It will be warmly welcomed by anyone interested in Islamic family law of South Asian societies or in the study of law and society generally. Dr. Ridwanul Hoque, South Asia Research 32:3

About the Author

Professor Alamgir Serajuddin, formerly vice-chancellor of the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh, teaches in the department of history. A barrister-at-law from Lincoln's Inn, Serajuddin has a Ph.D. from London University. He is the author of Revenue Administration of the East India Company in Chittagong, 1761-1785, and has written several articles and research papers. He has also been visiting professor at Georgetown University, USA.

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