Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Moulvies [Muslim lawyers, Delhi]--Photographer: Shepherd and Robertson Medium: Photographic print Date: 1863
Photograph of 'moulvies', Muslim lawyers, at Delhi in India, taken by Shepherd and Robertson in c.1863. This image of three seated men in discussion, surrounded by books, is reproduced as illustration no.198 in volume IV of John Forbes Watson's 'The People of India' (1869). The accompanying text states, "The photograph represents three doctors of Mahomedan law, or Moulvees, in discussion, perhaps on some knotty point in the text, on which the figure on the left has placed his hand, while the other two are listening to what he has to say. They form a very characteristic group of a class of learned men, who are perhaps decreasing under lack of patronage and exercise for their talents and knowledge...however, Mahomedan law still occupies a prominent place, and all property belonging to Mahomedans is inherited, divided, or litigated, under that law. Thus marriage settlements are drawn up by Moulvees, and the separate shares of widows, sons, and daughters, of all families of Mahomedans are defined by them. Wills are written by them, and conveyances and deeds in special cases; in short the civil law business of the Mahomedan people of India is in their hands. English judges are supposed to be conversant with Mahomedan law; but there are many points in which the general direction of a competant law officer is needful, and a Moulvee who has passed a prescribed examination is attached to every civil court."