Competing Model-Nikahnamas: Muslim Women’s Spaces within the Legal Landscape in Lucknow

Journal of Law and Social Research, Vol. 3, pp. 65-80, 2012

16 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2013

See all articles by Mengia Hong Tschalaer

Mengia Hong Tschalaer

CUNY, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Date Written: November 22, 2012

Abstract

This paper delineates the heterogeneity and tensions at work in Islamic family law in post-colonial India. Based on empirical data gathered in the city of Lucknow, northern India, it explores the ways in which (i) current debates on the form and nature of women’s rights in Islam challenge and fragment normative discourses on Islamic practice and ideology, and (ii) how in this context clear demarcations between secular and religious practice, and secular and religious legal authority get blurred. At the centre of my analysis is a document, called the nikhanama (marriage contract), which stipulates conjugal duties and rights as well as conditions of divorce and financial support. Heated public debate has surrounded recent attempts by both conservative and reform-oriented Muslim men and women to formulate a gender-just model-nikhanama. This paper challenges simplified modernist accounts that depict secular conceptions of state law as incompatible with religious non-state legal norms. Rather, the paper attempts to further a discussion of interlegality (Santos 2002) by conceptualising the legally plural landscape in Lucknow as a field of entanglements rather than as parallel systems of law and morals.

Suggested Citation

Hong Tschalaer, Mengia, Competing Model-Nikahnamas: Muslim Women’s Spaces within the Legal Landscape in Lucknow (November 22, 2012). Journal of Law and Social Research, Vol. 3, pp. 65-80, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2238270

Mengia Hong Tschalaer (Contact Author)

CUNY, John Jay College of Criminal Justice ( email )

695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021
United States

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