This book is an urban ethnographic study of several Muslim women's organisations in northern India. These organisations work to carve out spaces that allow for the articulation of alternative experiences and conceptions of religion and justice that challenge Islamic orthodoxy as well as the monopoly of the Indian state in the domain of family law. While most analyses on reform efforts within Muslim family law in India have focused on women's protection within the state legal system, this book offers the rare opportunity to understand how organised groups of Muslim women's rights activists contest marginalising forces present in the family and criminal courts, Shariat courts, local mosques, workplace, legislature and legal documents. It pushes against troubling assumptions that Islam is incompatible with ideas of women's rights and that the State is the only dispenser of justice, and offers new directions for studies on the dispersed nature of women's identities in Islamic family law.
Mengia Hong Tschalaer is a legal anthropologist with a focus on the relationship between politics of knowledge production, women's subjectivities, law, and Islam in contemporary India. Her scholarship specifically examines the micro-realities that shape people's understanding of women's rights and religion. She was a Visiting Scholar and Research Fellow at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School and has also taught undergraduate courses on intersectionality, gender and sexuality, law and society, and culture and identity at the City University of New York and Columbia University, New York.
Preface; Acknowledgements; Abbreviations; 1. From legal binaries to configurations: Muslim women's rights activism in South Asia; 2. A multidimensional approach to Muslim women's activism: mapping the legal landscape in the city of Lucknow; 3. Destabilising gendered proprieties: Muslim women's visibility within the public space; 4. Vying for a gender just Islamic marriage contract: women's legal spaces; 5. Legal realities: doing gender justice from below; 6. Muslim women's quest for justice: theoretical implications and policy suggestions; Appendices: model-nikahnamas; Glossary; Bibliography.