Who is a Muslim
APPLICATION OF MUHAMMADAN LAW
Who is Muslim ? Like Hindu law, Muhammadan law is a personal.law. Unlike territorial laws, it does not apply to all the persons in a given district. It applies only to those persons who answer a given description - Muslims - whether they are so by birth or by conversion. To be a Muslim is to. profess Islam ; i.e., to acknowledge that there is no God but The God (i.e:,-there is only one God) and Muhammad is.His Prophet; “La ilaha ill lil laH Muhammad ur Rasul Allah'’; Profession of the faith of Islam'(i.e., belief in the unity of God) and the mission .of Muhammad (as a prophet or messenger of God) are necessary and sufficient for establishing that a person is a Muhammadan by birth or by conversion, it is not necessary that he should observe any particular rites or ceremonies. A person born a Muslim remains a Muslim until he renounces the religion by an unequivocal renunciation of Islam. The mere adoption of some Hindu forms of worship does not amount to a renunciation of religion. In the case of an illegitimate son of a -Hindu by a Muslim woman and brought up as a Hindu, he may well be regarded as a Hindu, though his mother was a Muslim. Muhammadan law applies to :
(a) Muslims by birth, and
(bj Muslims by religion, i.e., persons who have become converts to Islam.
EFFECT OF CONVERSION TO ISLAM :-
On conversion to Islam, the convert is deemed to have completely renounced his former religion and status. On conversion to Islam, converts, (no matter, what their previous religion may have been) must be taken, (at that moment) to have renounced their former, religion and personal law, and to have substituted for it the Muslim religion and so much of the personal law as necessarily flows from that religion :
Advocate - General of Bombay v. Jimbabai i.L.R. (1917)41 Bom, 181. Thus, an Indian Christian domiciled in India can, after his conversion to Islam, legally contract a, second marriage with a Muslim woman while his former marriage with a Christian woman is still subsisting :
John Jiban Chandra Datta v. Abinash, I.L.R. (1932) 2 Cal. 12. But if the first marriage were contracted in England under English form, during its subsistence, the second marriage would be regarded as a nullity :
King v. Superintendent, Registrar of Marriages, Hammersmith, (1917) 1 K.B. 634 But the conversion of Hindu wife to islam does not ipso facto dissolve her marriage with her husband, .and she will be guilty of bigamy if She so marries again :
Mst. Nandi v. The Crown, (1920) i.L.R. 1 Lah. 440 In Khambatta v. Khambatta, (1934.) 36 Bom. L.R, 1021, I.L.R. (1935) Bom. 278, a Muslim married a Christian woman in the Christian form. The wife became a convert to Islam andthe husband divorced her by talak. In these circumstances, the Court held that the divorce was valid.
Problem - Yusuf, a Muslim marries Rita, a Christian woman, in Scotland according to lex loci (i.e. the law of Scotland). They return to India where Rita embraces Islam. Can Yusuf divorce Rita by Talak? Ans - Y,can divorce R by talak, R having embraced Islam : Khambatta v. Khambatta, 1.L..R. (1935) 59 Bom. 278.
Succession to estate of a convert to Islam :The succession to property of a convert to the Muslim religion would be governed by Muslim law and not by the Indian Succession Act. The property, therefore, of a Hindu convert to Islam will devolve according to Muslim law. But the conversion must be bona fide and not merely a colourable one with a view to elude the personal law to which a person is subject.
A Christian man, married to a Christian wife, was co-habiting with another native Christian woman. Desirous of marrying and in order to escape the punishment for bigamy, both, the man and the native Christian woman, declared themselves Muslims and went through a form of marriage according to Muslim law. It was held that the marriage was not valid. (Skinner v. Orde, 14 M.I.A. 309).
Effact of apostasy on the right to inherit :According to the strict Muhammadan Law, difference of religion is a bar to inheritance. But by the application of the Freedom of Religion Act 1850, a convert from Islam does not lose his right of inheritance. That Act does away with the provisions of Muhammadan Law by which apostates were excluded from inheritance.
According to Muslim law, a Hindu cannot succeed to the estate of a Muslim. Therefore, if a Hindu, with a Hindu wife and his children, embraces Islam, and marries a Muslim wife, his property will pass.on his death to his Muslim wife and not to his Hindu wife and children : Chedabaram v. Ma Nyien, I.L.R. (1928) 6 Ran. 243.