Creative Writing – 146
Study the passage and answer the questions
Comprehension Questions from BBC article on Muslim marriage and an aggrieved wife’s prayer before Delhi high court for redress
Polygamy: Muslim women in India fight ‘abhorrent’ practice [BBC]
A 28-year-old Muslim woman’s petition to a court, seeking to prevent her husband from taking another wife without her written consent, has put the spotlight on the practice of polygamy among Indian Muslims.
Reshma, who uses only one name, also wants the Delhi High Court to order the government to frame laws to regulate the “regressive practice” of bigamy or polygamy.
According to court documents, she married Md Shoeb Khan in January 2019 and in November the following year, they had a baby.
Reshma accuses her husband of domestic violence, cruelty, harassment and dowry demands. He has levelled similar allegations against her.
She also says that he’s abandoned her and their baby and he plans to take another wife.
Describing his action as “unconstitutional, anti-sharia, illegal, arbitrary, harsh, inhuman and barbaric”, she says “this practice needs to be regulated to curb the plight of Muslim women”.
While the court dwells on their acrimonious relationship and the legality of polygamy, the case has stirred a debate on the practice which is illegal in India except among Muslims and some tribal communities.
About 2% of the global population lives in polygamous households, according to Pew Research Centre’s 2019 report. The practice is banned in much of the world, including in Muslim-majority countries such as Turkey and Tunisia, and is extensively regulated in most countries where it is allowed. The UN has described it as “an inadmissible discrimination against women” and called for it to “be definitely abolished”.
But in India, the issue is a political hot potato. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has promised to enact a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) – a contentious piece of legislation that will mean marriages, divorces and inheritance will no longer be governed by their religious law but will come under a common law applicable to all citizens.
And at a time when the country is highly polarised along religious lines, any reform suggested by the government is bound to be considered an onslaught on Islam by a majority of Muslims.
SY Qureshi, former chief election commissioner and scholar of Islam, says in India, “the general perception is that every other Muslim has four wives” and that they have numerous children which will eventually lead to Muslims outnumbering Hindus, but that is not true. (Only 14% of India’s 1.3 billion people are Muslims while Hindus make up 80% of the population.)
Muslim men in India are allowed to marry up to four women and the sanction for polygamy, he says, comes from the Quran, but it’s permitted only under “strict conditions and restrictions” which are almost impossible to fulfil.
“The Quran says that a man can take a second or a third or a fourth wife but only from among orphans and widows and that he must treat them all equally. Anything else is a violation. But loving equally is almost impossible in practice. It’s not just about buying them same clothes, it is much more than that,” he adds.
1. What is meant by ‘polygamy’?
2. What is meant by ‘abhorrent’? Which practice is considered ‘abhorrent’ by Hindus?
3. Why has the 28-year-old Muslim woman approached the Delhi High Court? What are her two prayers?
4. What is the difference between ‘bigamy’ and ‘polygamy’?
5. What is meant by the word ‘regressive’? What is the antonym of ‘regressive’?
6. What practice is considered as ‘regressive’ in Hindu society?
7. Why is Reshma aggrieved at her husband?
8. How does Reshma describe her husband’s treatment towards her?
9. Which communities in India are permitted to practice polygamy?
10. What aspects of Resma’s case will Delhi High Court deal with?
11. Make sentences with .. Acrimonious, Dwell, Dwelling, Dwell upon, Spur, Stir, Hot potato as a phrase, Contentious, Inheritance, Polarized, Onslaught
12. How do Muslim countries view ‘polygamy’?
13. What does the U.N say about polygamy?
14. What changes are expected to take place after the Uniform Civil Code is enacted?
15. What is the general perception among Hindus about Muslim marriages and family sizes, according to S. Y. Qureshi?
16. Make sentences with … Perception, Outnumber
17. Why, according to Qureshi, a Muslim man could find it very difficult to take more than one wife?
1. When a spouse chooses to enter into an wedlock with another person of the opposite sex, the practice is called polygamy. He or she can re-marry multiple times.
When a husband or a wife wants to marry another person or persons of the opposite sex, the practice is called polygamy.
2. Anything distasteful or worthy of contempt is described to be abhorrent. Eating cow’s meat is considered an abhorrent practice by most Hindus.
3. Reshma, the 28-year-old distraught wife of her abusive husband has approached the Delhi High Court to get an order to restrain her husband from taking a second wife. She wants her husband to give a written undertaking to this effect.
4. Bigamy is remarrying once, where as polygamy means remarrying multiple times.
5. Any practice, thought or idea that takes an individual back to the primitive and dark times is described as regressive. Progressive is the antonym of regressive.
6. Curbing women’s freedom to study and take up outdoor work is one of the many regressive practices of Hindu society.
7. Reshma has been the victim of her husband’s cruelty and other such barbaric traits. She has gone through very torrid times leaving her thoroughly devastated and exasperated.
8. Reshma describes her husband as a brutal, abusive and cruel person who has no regard for the sanctity of the marital bond. She does not mince words while portraying her husband’s boorish manners.
9. A certain section of tribal people and Muslims are allowed to be polygamous.
10. Delhi High Court will look into her troubled marriage and the question of polygamy.
11. Acrimonious – Diplomats are trained to desist from acrimonious exchange of words even when facing grave provocations.
Dwell -The History professor surprised the students by dwelling on Shakespeare with remarkable erudition.
Dwelling – The Corporation’s bulldozers demolished the dwellings of the poor folks leading to a storm of protests in the social media.
Dwell upon – In his independence day speech, Prime minister Modi dwelt upon the looming unemployment crisis in the country.
Spur – The turnaround of Indian economy after the Covid lock-down spurred the demand for automobiles.
Stir – Some political elements are trying to stir communal strife and defame Modi’s leadership.
Hot potato – The police inspector was rather timid. He dropped the case against the minister’s son as hot potato despite rising public anger.
Contentious – NATO’s eastward expansion has been a contentious matter in Europe for years.
Inheritance – The young man squandered all the property he had got as inheritance.
Polarized – Trump’s tenure in White House polarized American society.
Onslaught – The newly-wed woman left her husband’s home after the verbal onslaughts of her mother-in-law became insufferable.
12. Muslim countries don’t look at the practice of polygamy through the same lens. Some prohibit it totally, where as others allow it with certain restrictions.
13. The U.N disapproves of the practice of polygamy saying that it is an onslaught n women’s right to dignity and fairness.
14. After the Uniform Civil Code is adopted people of all faiths in India will be subjected to the same set of laws with regard to inheritance of property, divorce, polygamy etc.
15. According to S. Y. Qureshi, Hindus think that most Muslims in India marry four wives and thereby, have many children. Such increase in Muslim population could one day make India a Muslim country. Though unfounded, and unscientific, such a perception portrays the entire Muslim society in a poor light.
16. Perception – After the invasion of Ukraine, the perception of Russia around the world has turned to negative.
Outnumber – In India unemployed youth vastly outnumber those with jobs
17. Islam allows polygamy under two conditions. First, the new wife has to be a widow or an orphan. Second, the husband must treat all his wives with the same affection. When rigidly applied, these two Quranic injunctions will make it virtually impossible for an Indian Muslim to take a second wife.