'Signs of churning': Muslim Personal Law and public contestation in twenty-first century India
Modern Asian Studies
Cambridge University Press
For many Indian Muslims, the preservation of Muslim Personal Law has been the touchstone of their capacity to defend their Muslim identity. This article examines public debate over Muslim Personal Law less as a subject uniting Indian Muslims, but rather as a site in which a varied array of individuals, schools and organisations have sought to assert their individual identities. This is done through a discussion of the evolution of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the most authoritative such organisation since the 1970s, with particular focus on its recent fragmentation at the hands of a number of alternative legal councils formed by feminist, clerical and other groups. These organisations have justified their existence through criticism of the Board’s alleged attempts to standardisation of Islamic law and its Deobandi dominance. In truth, however, this process of fragmentation owes to a complex array of embryonic and interlinked personal, political and ideological competitions, indicative of the increasingly paradoxical process of consensus-building in contemporary Indian Muslim society.
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009. Published version reproduced with the permission of the publisher.
Vol. 44, Issue 1, pp. 175 - 200
Place of publication