When Anuradha Bali became Chander Mohan's wife last December, she joined approximately five million Indian women married to an already married man. Since multiple marriages in India are only permitted under the Muslim Personal Law, Bali and Mohan became the latest in a long line of people converting to Islam solely to make use of this clause—changing their names to Chand Mohammed and Fiza in the bargain.
The repercussions were not long in coming. Chand was sacked from the post of deputy chief minister of Haryana, the Bishnoi community declared him an outcaste, and his father—three-time Haryana CM Bhajan Lal—disowned him. At this dark hour, a vague hand of support came from Mufti Ahsan Kasmi, deputy in-charge of the fatwa department of Dar-ul-Uloom, Deoband. "Nikaah (marriage) after converting to Islam is legal under Shariah," he declared. But it was hardly a ringing endorsement—not surprising when you consider Kasmi had gone on record as recently as July 2008 saying, "conversion of a woman to Islam for the purpose of marrying someone from the faith is illegal and against Shariah".