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India is a diverse nation with a rich cultural heritage, and it’s no surprise that it possesses one of the most intricate legal systems in the world. The Muslim Personal Law in India has a crucial role to play in governing personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption. One crucial aspect of this law is Acknowledgement which refers to a declaration made by a man claiming the paternity of his illegitimate child. Acknowledgement holds great significance in Muslim law.


Unlike the other system, Muslim law does not recognize the institution of adoption rather they recognize a concept of Acknowledgement or Ikras.[2] “Where the paternity of a child, that is, his legitimate descent from his father cannot be proved by establishing a marriage between his parents at the time of his conception of birth, Muslim law recognizes ‘Acknowledgement’ as a method whereby such marriage and legitimate descent can be established as a matter of substantive law for inheritance”.[3] In Islamic law, acknowledging one’s children is considered an important responsibility and duty. By doing so, the father publicly accepts and recognizes his offspring as legitimate heirs to his property and assets.

Acknowledgement is a concept that has been around for centuries and continues to be an integral part of Islam law. It is seen as a way of strengthening family ties, giving legitimacy to the child and ensuring that the child will have access to the father’s property and assets. The Muslim law of acknowledgement of legitimating parentage does not extend to cases where a child’s illegitimacy has been confirmed due to either the impossibility of a lawful union between the parents or the disproof of necessary marriage for legitimacy. The acknowledgement doctrine only applies when proof of marriage or exact timing regarding the legitimacy of an acknowledged child is absent.[4] In Muhammad Allahadad Khan v Muhammad Ismail,[5] it was held that Mohammedan law prescribes the acknowledgement of paternity as a means of establishing marriage and legitimacy when no direct evidence of marriage can be presented and no legitimacy can be established.[6]

The doctrine of acknowledgement confers the son’s status and succession rights to the acknowledged child. It always proceeds on the assumption that the parents have a valid union. In the case of the illegitimacy of a child due to an unlawful union between the parents, the illegitimate status cannot be legitimised through acknowledgement. Therefore it is essential to keep in mind that Acknowledgement does not confer legitimacy upon a child only marriage can do so under Muslim law. In Muslim law, an acknowledgement of legitimacy is a declaration of legitimacy,[7] not legitimation.[8]

The doctrine of Acknowledgement applies to cases of uncertainty, about the legitimacy of the child, when there is an absence of direct evidence of legitimacy, evidence from indirect sources may be sufficient and one of the ways of indirect evidence is through the acknowledgement when the father recognizes his son’s legitimacy  But when there is an absence of direct evidence of marriage or there are circumstances from which the existence of marriage may be presumed, the question of acknowledgement of legitimacy is not raised.  The acknowledgement shall have no legal force in the absence of proof that the parents of the child were married.

It is not necessary that acknowledgement has to be expressed in a manner, it may be expressed or implied. If a person takes care of the child like his own child, as a result, this fact may give rise to a valid presumption of legitimacy. In Mohammad Azmat v Lalli Begum,[9] the lordships of the Judicial Committee observed that it is not necessary for the acknowledgement needs to be in an expressed manner, the only necessary thing is that the acknowledgement of the children must be done by a Mohammedan to give the child status of his son and openly treat him as one.[10] The acknowledgement must be made by a father, it may be of a son or daughter.

Acknowledgement has multiple implications, both legal and moral. It helps to ensure that children are provided with rights and privileges due to them under Islamic law. Moreover, there are specific legal consequences of making an including granting inheritance rights to children according to Muslim personal laws in India. Despite these benefits though, some fathers may still choose not to acknowledge their children due to various reasons including the social stigma associated with children outside marriage.


The effect of acknowledgement in Muslim Law is significant and can have legal implications for both the child and the parents. Once an acknowledgement has been made, the father and child form a legal relationship. This means that they will be entitled to all rights and benefits that a legitimate child receives under Muslim personal law.

In the case of an acknowledgement of paternity, two presumptions are raised: one in favour of the son and one in favour of the wife (the mother of the acknowledged child). It confers all the legal benefits of natural paternity on the son and vests in him the right to inherit from the one who acknowledges. In the case of the wife (the mother of the acknowledged child), it gives her the legal status of a wife and a right to inheritance.


In conclusion, Acknowledgement in Muslim Law is an important aspect that has various implications for the legal status of the child. It is a way to establish paternity and grant legitimacy to a child in question. However, it must be done under certain conditions and with specific time frames to ensure its validity. Furthermore, acknowledgement can also affect matters related to inheritance and guardianship. Therefore, individuals must understand the laws surrounding acknowledgement in Muslim personal laws in India. Acknowledging a child may seem like a simple act but has significant legal consequences. Hence individuals must follow proper procedures while doing so. This ensures that their rights and those of the children involved are protected.

Author(s) Name: Nikita Sigchi (North Bengal University, Siliguri)










[9] MOHAMMAD AZMAT V LALLI BEGUM,(1831) 91 A.8,18:8 Cal 422

[10] MOHAMMAD AZMAT V LALLI BEGUM,(1831) 91 A.8,18:8 Cal 422