A Feast In Exile PART I TlMUR-I LENKH Prologue

Text of a civil proclamation given at the Mogul Sultanate of Delhi, on 21 January, 1398, by the calendar of the Roman Church.

People of Delhi, this is the law for marriage: it applies to all who live in this city, no matter what their customs may require or their religions may preach. In Delhi, this is the law.

Any man seeking to take a woman to wife must pay the bride-price asked by her father or brother, or, if she has no male relatives, to the Sultan. Failure to do this will invalidate the marriage and make any children of such an irregular union illegitimate and entitled to nothing from any member of the father's house.

Any man taking a slave as a concubine will be allowed to legitimize such issue as may come from the union until the child is two years of age. If the child is not legitimized by that time, it will be considered to be illegitimate and without family and may be kept as a slave or sold, on the wish of the father.

Any man taking a woman not a slave as a concubine will pay the bride-price to her male relatives that is commensurate with their station in life. Any children of such a union may be legitimized in the first two years of life; if they are not, they may be adopted by the woman's male relatives or enrolled in the service of the Sultan.

Any man taking a bride who is not of his faith may stipulate that the children of such a union are illegitimate in order to preserve the family in the faith of the husband and his father; the brothers of the wife may adopt the children if the husband of the mother is paid an agreed-upon price for the child or children.

Any man marrying a slave must first pay the price of her freedom to the Sultan and have the sale recorded before the union can be considered legitimate. Any man failing to pay such a price may not legitimize any children from the union.

Any man whose religion does not prohibit it may take as many as four wives without paying additional bride-prices to the Sultan, for the Prophet-may he be praised-has said that a man may take four wives. If a man seeks to marry more than four, the bride-price must be paid to the Sultan or any child of the additional unions will be held to be illegitimate and not entitled to any portion of his father's estate or name.

Any man may keep as many concubines as he may support without causing any of his legitimate wives to suffer on this account. Suffering includes starvation, privation, lack of shelter, denial of the rights of legitimate children, and compromise of obligations to the wives'fathers and brothers. The man keeping the concubines may not reduce them to a station less than that occupied by the male relatives of the concubine in question.

Any man whose religion prohibits him from having more than one wife may acquire such concubines as he can afford to keep. The children of such concubines shall be accounted his slaves unless he makes them legitimate before such children are two years of age.

Any man who puts away his wife for religious reasons will pay a bride-price to her male relatives, or to the Sultan if she has none. She will be considered a widow and may be put in the care of a guardian appointed by her husband for as long a term, as the husband shall stipulate. The wife of such a man may be permitted to marry again if her husband does not oppose such an arrangement, and if it is not such a reduction in station or caste that would render the union ineligible either to his male relatives or hers. Should her husband wish her to remain unmarried, he will have to provide support for her commensurate with the support he provided her when he lived with her as her husband. Should he fail to do so, her male relatives would be entitled to demand such a sum from his family and to administer it on her behalf.

Any man who deserts a wife for any reason that is not of her instigation, and not the result of religion or leprosy, will be required to provide her bride-price to her male relatives and to release her unconditionally to marry again, should her male relatives secure another offer for her. If a man deserts one wife but not another for a reason that is not of her instigation and is not the result of religion or leprosy, the male relatives may appeal to the male relatives of the entitled wife for recompense for the deserted wife. If her male relatives do not find her another husband, the family of the deserting husband must make a place for her in one of their households at a rank not below that of concubine.

Any man who takes a wife who has been a widow will have full authority over her, her belongings, and any children from her previous husband who have not been provided for by the male relatives of the deceased husband. It shall be within his power to order the lives of such children as if they were his own offspring. He is not required to make them legitimate as of his blood, but he may do so if the male relatives of the deceased husband offer no objection.

Any man who dies while married to a fertile woman may leave a baby in her womb to comfort her; if that baby is delivered within three years of its father's death, it will be acknowledged as the child of the father and solace of the mother. If the child is born after three years, it is proof of the widow's vice, and may be stoned to death to preserve its father's name, and the widow will be cast out from the city or sold to a brothel to expiate her husband's honor.

Any foreign man, no matter what his customs and laws may be, must abide by Delhi's laws while in the Sultan's lands. Should he fail to abide by the laws, his wives and sisters will become the wards of the Sultan and given the rights and protections of the laws of Delhi.

Any woman without male relatives is to be considered the niece of the Sultan. All negotiations for marriage, all bride-prices, all compensations, are to be paid to the Sultan in lieu of paying her male relatives. Women married in this way may not be married below the station or caste of their male relative, if they had such, nor are they to be given to husbands not of their male relatives' religion.

Any man is entitled to choose one of his daughters to provide for his care and the care of his wife or wives in old age. This daughter may not be married until her father has been dead for two years, and then she may marry only at the will of her brothers, or by order of the Sultan, if she has no living male relatives. She may occupy her father's house until her brothers find a suitable husband for her, or the brothers may pay her bride-price to the Sultan and let her remain unmarried and in her father's house for as long as the brothers are willing she should remain.

Look that all men of Delhi know the law and abide by it.

Sawan bin Tughluq

Deputy to the Sultan for Marriages and Inheritances
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