When Muslims came to India they gave proper recognition to the dignity of women of India and their rights as respectable members of the family and life-partners of men. The huge significance of the rights bestowed by Islam on the softer sex in a country where the practice of barbarous custom of Sati in which widows of noble families used to immolate themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands since in the eyes of society, as well as in their own eyes, they forfeited the right to live with the death of their husbands, does not stand in need of an elaboration. We are however, reproducing the under-mentioned lines from Burnier’s travel accounts to show what infinite pains did the Muslims take, for instance, for the suppression of the custom of Sati from the earliest days of their rule.
“…………….the number of victims is less now than formerly; the Mahometans, by whom the country is governed, doing all in their power to suppress the barbarous custom. They do not, indeed, forbid it by a positive law, because it is a part of their policy to leave the idolatrous population which is so much more numerous than their own in the free exercise of its religion; but the practice is checked by indirect means. No woman can sacrifice herself without permission from the governor of the province in which she resides, and he never grants it until he shall have ascertained that she is not to be turned aside from her purpose; to accomplish this desirable end the governor reasons with the widow and makes her enticing promises; after which, if these methods fail, he sometimes sends her among his women, that the effect of their remonstrances may be tried. Notwithstanding these obstacles, the number of self-immolations is still very considerable, particularly in the territories of the Rajas, where no Mahometan governors are appointed.”1
- Francois Burnier: Travels in the Mogul Empire (189l), pp. 306-7
P.S. The article has been created from the works of great Islamic scholar Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (Ali Miyan)