National

Practice of bigamy is prevalent more among Hindus

The propaganda that Muslims marry four times and produce large number of children is oldest and communal elements have done their best to prove this right but contrary to all this, statistics show that in this country our Hindu brethren are ahead of Muslims in marrying more than once. And all this is in spite of the fact that among Hindus there is no concept of second marriage in the presence of the first wife whereas Islam has allowed more than one marriage with certain conditions and restrictions of course, if need arises. Against this, Hindu Marriage Act neither allows second marriage (or wife) nor has it got any legal status. In spite of all this, if the prevailing situation in India is reviewed, it becomes quite clear that as compared to Muslims, the practice of having a second wife is more among Hindu households.

Conspiracies hatched by communalist and fascist forces in order to defame Muslims are now being exposed one by one. It is said that if a lie is told hundred times it begins to appear to be true. Among the many propaganda and slogans devised by Sangh outfits after Independence in order to keep Muslims away from the national mainstream and to make them outcastes, one was the propaganda that Muslims marry four times and produce many children and if the same practice continues, a time will come when Muslims will be in majority in this country. The objective of such propaganda was to discredit and bring bad name to Muslims and to fan hatred and enmity against them in the minds of countrymen and to make them easy prey for communal and fascist forces so that during riots police as well as administrative machinery should indulge in cruelty and barbarism against them. This is always being done against them after independence and Muslims have been projected as a community harmful for this country.

The propaganda that Muslims marry four times and produce large number of children is oldest and communal elements have done their best to prove this right but contrary to all this, statistics show that in this country our Hindu brethren are ahead of Muslims in marrying more than once. And all this is in spite of the fact that among Hindus there is no concept of second marriage in the presence of the first wife whereas Islam has allowed more than one marriage with certain conditions and restrictions of course, if need arises. Against this, Hindu Marriage Act neither allows second marriage (or wife) nor has it got any legal status. In spite of all this, if the prevailing situation in India is reviewed, it becomes quite clear that as compared to Muslims, the practice of having a second wife is more among Hindu households.

Even though no fresh survey on the number of marriages has been undertaken in recent times, statistics indicate that the practice of maximum marriages in the country exists among the adivasis who keep dozens of wives. There are certain cases in which some adivasis have married 50 or more women. The practice of polygamy or having more than one wife among adivasis is 15 percent. After them are Buddhists, almost 8% of whom practice polygamy. The rate of polygamy among Hindus is 5.8% and among Muslims it is lowest with 5.7%. These statistics are based on 1961 census because in this census polygamy was surveyed for the first time which proved that the practice of keeping more than one wife was minimum among Muslims. After 1961 census no official survey of polygamy was carried out but surveys carried out by other sources at different times prove that our non-Muslim brethren, in spite of legal restrictions are having more than one wife whereas Muslims are avoiding this in spite of being permitted by Islam.

When a Muslim marries for the second time, he is generally not welcomed in society, whatever the reasons of second marriage may be. Only recently this was seen in the case of Shoaib Malik and Ayesha Siddiqui’s 'marriage'. When this matter was being highlighted by electronic and print media, majority of Muslims were in favour of Ayesha Siddiqui and were sympathizing with her, considering her the wronged girl, even though the print media and TV channels etc had been indulging in Muslim bashing from all sides on the issues of marriage, divorce, polygamy and some Ulama and Muslim intellectuals for cheap popularity were trying to support them and issuing illogical, baseless and embarrassing fatwas. General feeling among Muslims was that media and TV channels were deliberately doing this in order to defame Muslims and projecting a bad image and making fun of their customs and practices. Muslims personal and family laws were targeted and finally when Shoaib Malik, after all this divorced Ayesha Siddiqui and paid her the mehr, the whole show came to a stop.

Ayesha Siddiqui’s biggest problem in Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza's marriage was that she wanted to be divorced by Shoaib Malik but Shoaib's argument was that when marriage with Ayesha has not taken place, where and how did the question of divorce arise but subsequently when this became a roadblock in his marriage with Sania and he got involved in legal complications, in order to rid himself of all this, he divorced her. Even though in Islam, for second marriage it is not necessary for the man to divorce the first wife, permission of the first wife and to do so in a decent way is needed. Anyway, all this tamasha has now come to an end and their marriage has now been solemnised in the proper manner.

But all this has once again highlighted the fact that fascist and communal elements in the country who do not like Muslims personal and family laws are always on the look-out of finding some way or the other to target and make fun of their laws. It will be remembered that in 1980s Supreme Court had pronounced the verdict of payment of maintenance allowance to the divorcee for the entire life which had created uneasiness among Muslims as this verdict was against sharia law. Government got a law passed by the Parliament against this and in this way court's interference in Muslim personal law came to an end. Government also took the stand that Muslim personal law will not be changed unless Muslims themselves demand change or amendment.

The tragedy is that whenever a problem like Shoaib Malik and Ayesha Siddiqui comes up, fascist and communal forces start targeting Muslim personal and family laws and in order to defame Muslims they try to indulge in false and outmoded accusation of bigamy or polygamy among Muslims, conveniently ignoring and forgetting that as regards bigamy or polygamy, the same accusation boomerangs on them with greater force. Now that the facts have been unfolded, with what face they can now say that Muslims practice polygamy when the rate of polygamy is greater in them and much greater among adivasis who also follow the faith, customs and practices of Hindus. The irony is that our national media becomes quite forgetful and blind to the vices in Hindu society and marital relations in households where every now and then brides are burnt alive for dowry. In case of marital discord, husbands use all immoral, cruel and foul means to get rid of their wives because among them divorce is not so easy whereas in Islam if there is marital discord and all efforts fail to bring about reconciliation between the couple, they can take recourse to divorce without much fuss and difficulty. (Translated from Urdu)

The author is editor, Daily Khabar-e Jadid, Delhi

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 July 2010 on page no. 10

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