Is it Correct for a Man or Woman to Convert to Islam to Marry a Second Woman?
India is a land beset by myriad problems and one of these is battle for a uniform civil code. The Indian constitution lays down in the Directive Principles, the need for the state to enact a uniform civil code for all and that includes Muslims.
For reasons of vote bank politics the Indian political leadership has ignored the Directive Principles, with the result that Hindu personal law is codified and one can marry only one wife, the Muslim personal law is still governed by theSharia and that means easy divorce and up to 4 wives. The restriction of one wife is something many Hindus want to circumvent so that they can marry again and it is known that many convert to Islam and then get married, as Islam permits a second wife. Thus there is no chance of a case of bigamy being filed.
One of the celebrated cases concerns the film star Dharmendra and his consort Hema Malini. According to the Hindu Marriage Act, a Hindu cannot marry a second time while the first wife is still alive. Dharmendra is an Arya Samaj Hindu Punjabi. Hema Malini wanted to marry Dharmendra and on August 21, 1979, both Hema and Dharmendra converted to Islam. They changed their names to Aisha Bi R. Chakra arty and Dilawar Khan Kewal Krishna respectively, and got married as Muslims by conducting Nikah. This is just an examplebut there are tens of such cases.
Under Hindu marriage act no Hindu can marry again without getting a divorce from the first wife, but many in India take the easy path out by converting to Islam to circumvent the law. This question is great importance and the reason is the two sets of separate personal laws of the Hindus and Muslims. This needs to be rectified and also needs a political will. One fact that cannot be obviated is, that unless some social stigma is attached to such cases, they will continue. The BJP which talks of Ram Rajya has rehabilitated Hema Malini and a lady who converted to Islam is their star campaigner. What a shame. Could not the BJP find anybody else? I wonder what example this lady is setting to the rank and file of Hindu women all over India. Come to think of it, even Dharmendra was made an MP, but he flopped in that role.
Pandit Nehru comes out as the arch villain of all this, as in 1955 he got the Hindu marriage act passed, but left the Muslim personal law intact. It must be remembered that in the state of Goa the Portuguese enforced the uniform civil code and one wife and Muslims there accepted it. Had Nehru passed the uniform civil code at that time such cases would not have occurred?