The Mughal rule changed the Hindu family fabric fundamentally. Hindu families absorbed many such things which are Islamic but Hindus think of them as a Hindu tradition. For more details read here.

In this article we shall discuss why the status of a daughter-in-law degraded during in the Mughal rule.

Lets understand Hindu inheritance (Mitakshara law) and Islamic inheritance (Shariat).

The Mitakshara law is based on Yajnavalkya Smriti best known for its theory of “inheritance by birth.” It was written by Vijnanesvara. It is also applied even today on all non-Muslims in India including Christians and Jews.

Mitakshara law defines 3 types of property:

  1. Ancestral property
  2. Self Earned property
  3. Others (property inherited from in-laws or other inheritances or charity etc.)

Lets say a man(X) has 2 sons (A and B). Immediately after their birth, X and both sons (A and B) have 1/3rd right on the ancestral property. Where as the Father has full right on his other 2 types of property.

The Mitakshara law hence tried to strike a balance between the parents and children’s rights. Such a system ensured that neither parents cannot disinherit their children, nor the children could neglect their parents.

What is Shariat say?

In Shariat a person has absolute rights on all types of property. Though Shariat defines succession, it gives right to a person to gift (do hiba) his or her property to anyone else (even verbally). A Muslim parent could disinherit one or all children from his/her property. Unlike Mitakshara law, Shariat hence puts the children at a big disadvantage vis-a-vis their parents.

Most of the societies in world (including India) are patrilocal i.e. a girl stays in her husband’s house after marriage. In Islamic societies, if parents get displeased on their sons, their daughter-in-laws bear the burnt of their dissatisfaction.  On top of that a Muslim man can unilaterally divorce his wife, marry four times and need not give any maintenance after a divorce. Hence, the status of a daughter-in-law or a wife in an Islamic society is pathetic.

Coming to our question, why did the status of a daughters-in-law degrade during the Mughal rule.

Answer is simple: In a gradual manner, the Mughals started applying Sharia on Hindus (and non-Muslims in general). And Mitakshara inheritance system was replaced with Shariat, Hindu men got rights to take more than one wife. Even Aurangzeb went ahead and applied the Shariat criminal law on the entire population during late 1600s. Refer my article here.

Hence, the status of a daughter-in-law/wife degraded during the Mughal rule as Hindu women were deprived of many rights granted to them by the Smritis and other Hindu law codes.

The British great service in gradually repealing Shariat and bringing in the Mitakshara thereby de-Islamizing the Hindus.

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