Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

what is called a “proper dower” if the dower is payable at once the woman may, before consummation, refuse herself to her husband unless it is paid; whether she can do so after consummation is doubtful. If the husband capriciously repudiates the wife before consummation, or the wife before consummation repudiates the husband for his misconduct, then half the dower agreed on must be paid. If it is her misconduct which has caused the repudiation, she is not entitled to anything. Deferred dower becomes payable on the dissolution of the marriage either by death or by divorce. Probably a judge, when called upon to dissolve or annul a marriage, could make reasonable stipulations as to the dower. The dower is the wife’s own property, and, as the wife is entirely independent of the husband in regard to her property, she can sue him or his representatives for the dower like any other creditor. Mahommedans generally before marriage enter into a formal contract which regulates not only the dower, but various other matters under the control of the parties, such as the visits the wife is to pay or receive, the amount of liberty which she is to have and so forth.

The right of pre-emption under Mahommedan law is the right of a third person, in certain circumstances, to step in and take the place of a buyer, at the same price and on the same conditions as the buyer has purchased. Pre-emption. It applies only to the purchase of real property, and it can only be exercised upon one of the three following grounds: (1) That the claimant is owner of property contiguous to that sold; (2) that he is a co-sharer in the property of which a share is being sold; (3) that he is a participator in some right over the property, such, for example, as a right of way over it. The claimant must announce his claim as soon as he hears of the sale, and he must follow up this announcement by a further claim in the presence of witnesses and of the seller, or, if possession has been transferred, of the buyer.

Mahommedan law, so far as it is administered by the courts of British India for Sunnites of the Hanafite school—that is, for the great bulk of Mahommedans—has attained a fair degree of precision, owing to the care bestowed on their decisions by the judges of those courts, and the assistance derived from Mahommedan lawyers. But much difficulty is experienced as soon as we come to deal with Mahommedans of any other description. No doubt in India any clearly-established custom prevalent amongst a well-defined body of persons would be recognized, or any rule of law founded upon texts which they accepted as authoritative. But it is not always easy to determine when these conditions have been satisfied. And to allow Mahommedans to set up a standard of rights and duties different from that of the bulk of their correligionists without this proof would lead not only to confusion but injustice. There is the further difficulty that Mahommedan law, as applied to any Mahommedans except those of the Hanafite school, has as yet been comparatively little studied by modern lawyers, so that Shiah System. very little that is certain can be said about it. There is, however, a considerable body of Shiites in India whose legal system undoubtedly differs in some material particulars from that of the Sunnites. The Mahommedans of Oudh are generally Shiites, and Shiah families, mostly of Persian descent, are to be found in other parts of India. The following points seem clear. A marriage which the parties agree shall last for a fixed time, even for a few hours only, is a valid marriage, and at the expiration of the time agreed on the marriage ceases to exist. The relatives of the deceased, whether male or female, and whether tracing their connexion through males or females, may be sharers or residuaries. Both as sharers and residuaries the children can claim to take the place of their parents in the succession upon the principle of what we call representation. If there are parents or descendants of the deceased, and the sharers do not exhaust the property, the surplus is distributed amongst the sharers of that class in proportion to their shares. If the property is not sufficient to pay in full the shares of all the sharers, the shares do not abate rateably; e.g. as between daughters and the parents, or the husband, or the wife of the deceased the whole deduction is made from the daughters’ share.

Authorities.—(Mahommedan Law), Neil Baillie, Digest of Mahommedan Law (London, 1865); Sir R. K. Wilson, Introduction to the Study of Mahommedan Law (London, 1894); Digest of Anglo-Mahommedan Law (London, 1895); Charles Hamilton, The Hedaya translated (London, 1791); Syed Ameer Ali, Lectures on Mahommedan Law (2 vols., Calcutta, 1891, 1894); Mahomed Yusoof, Tagore Law Lectures (Calcutta 1895); Alfred v. Kremer, Culturgeschichte des Orients (2 vols., Vienna, 1875).

(W. Ma.)

INDIAN MUTINY, THE, the great revolt of the Bengal native army in 1857, which led to the transference of Indian government from the East India company to the crown in 1858. The mediate cause of the Mutiny was the great disproportion between the numbers of British and native troops in India, which gave the sepoys an exaggerated notion of their power; its immediate causes were a series of circumstances which promoted active discontent with British rule.

During the century which elapsed between the victory of Plassey and the outbreak at Meerut, the East India company relied mainly on native troops with a stiffening of British soldiers—especially artillery—for the successful Disaffection in the Native Army. conduct of its wars. The warlike Hindu and Mahommedan races supplied excellent fighting material, when led by British officers, and the sepoy army took a distinguished part in every Indian battle, from Assaye to Gujarat. At the close of Lord Dalhousie’s administration (1856) British India was held by some 233,000 native and some 45,000 British troops—roughly a proportion of 5 to 1. It was already clear to some of the men who knew India best that this was a dangerous state of things, though when the Mutiny broke out the relative numbers were 257,000 native to 36,000 British soldiers. It had long been a fundamental principle of Indian government that the sepoy would always be true to his salt—knowing, as Macaulay wrote in 1840, that there was not another state in India which would not, in spite of the most solemn promises, leave him to die of hunger in a ditch as soon as he had ceased to be useful. But the history of the sepoy army might have shown that this was an over-estimate of its loyalty. As early as 1764 it was necessary to stamp out mutiny by blowing thirty sepoys away from guns. In 1806 the family of Tippoo Sultan produced a dangerous mutiny at Vellore, which was nipped in the bud by the prompt action of Gillespie and his dragoons. In 1824 the 47th Bengal infantry refused to march when it was ordered for service in Burma, and after being decimated by British artillery was struck out of the army list. In 1844, after the disasters of the Afghan war had shaken the prestige of British arms in India, no less than seven native regiments broke into open mutiny over grievances both real and fancied; and this time the old stern measures were not adopted to stamp out military disobedience. Lord Ellenborough often said that a general mutiny of the native army was the only real danger with which the British empire in India was threatened, and his warning was solemnly repeated by Sir Charles Napier. A still more explicit warning was uttered by General Jacob, who declared in 1853 that the normal state of the Bengal army was a state of mutiny, and wrote to The Times as follows: “There is more danger to our Indian empire from the state of the Bengal army, from the feeling which there exists between the native and the European, and thence spreads throughout the length and breadth of the land, than from all other causes combined. Let government look to this; it is a serious and most important truth.”

The causes which, in the middle of the 19th century, were thus tending to sap the long-tried fidelity of the sepoy army were partly military and partly racial. The professional conditions of the sepoy’s career, especially Its causes in 1857. in Bengal, were no longer so tempting as they had been in the first generations of the company’s rule. The pay and privileges of the sepoy were steadily being diminished, and the increased demands made on the army by the great extension of the company’s territory were by no means grateful to the average Bengal sepoy. Owing to the silladar system, under which the Indian sowar provided his own horse and provender