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South Asia

Anglo-Islamic Law in Colonial India

Mitra Sharafi, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin

In colonial India, Islamic law was famous for its flexibility. It
was one of many systems of religious law applied in the state courts, typically by European judges. Then as now, South Asia operated upon the personal law principle. For marriage and inheritance, a person’s religious affiliation determined what law would govern. Hindu law applied to Hindus, Islamic law to Muslims, and so on. State courts administered religious law, making the term “Anglo-Islamic” law the most appropriate term for the body of law applied to Muslims. Continue reading