Former Chairman of National Minorities Commission criticises polygamy among Muslims

In an opinion article published in The Indian Express, former chairman of National Minorities Commission Tahir Mahmood has criticised the clergy and defenders of polygamy. He has claimed that the interpretation of polygamy in Islam had been done from the male perspective in a way that suited them while forgetting its historical contexts. Mahmood has also said that many Muslim countries have abolished polygamy as human rights have acquired primacy in the modern world. Mahmood writes :

With the global emergence of a new social order conceding the supremacy of human rights over custom and usage, the Muslim world had also awakened to its demands. Today, polygamy stands legally abolished or at least restricted in a large number of Muslim countries. 

Tahir Mahmood has also opposed the defence of Muslim clerics of this practice, He writes (emphasis added)

A TV journalist told me that Muslim clerics may not mind restraints on these practices but are deeply concerned about the “attack” on polygamy. If true, their worry about polygamy is more baffling to me than the alleged indifference to other antiquated customs. 

While concluding that this is an opportunity to bring parity between all citizens under the bigamy law, Tahir has also urged his fellow Muslims not to block the reform under the guise of saving ‘sacred’ law. Mr Mahmood concludes with the following lines:

There is an easy way to bring all citizens under the country’s general law on bigamy. Instead of questioning the essentiality of polygamy as a religious practice, eliminate from the IPC’s anti-bigamy provision the words making its application conditional on bigamy being void under the applicable family law. This general legal reform should, perhaps, not attract agitation for “tampering” with any supposedly sacred law.


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