Monday, August 2, 2021
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Revamp Muslim personal laws

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani has rightly said “Triple talaq is inherently unequal to women. The practice is abhorrent to god and no amount of advocacy by man can cure it”.  It is also rightly said that “No discrimination against a woman is possible just because she is a woman. Law can be made only to improve the lot of women.”

In fact, in the Quran, the very conception of humankind is based on an equal footing between man and woman. India is one country and only one law for all its citizens. Make it simple like the other democratic countries of the world. No religion is above the country. Triple talaq is an obnoxious and medieval practice to grant illegal rights to a husband and has absolutely no sanction in the Koran.

Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also urged Muslims not to view the triple talaq issue from a political perspective and expressed the confidence that efforts to end the practice would be led by “enlightened” members of the community.

The real temper of the country is that people want this triple talaq to end. They do not want any discrimination on the basis of any religious faith against women. Women cannot be treated as “secondary citizens in India”. It is indeed unfortunate that a majority of women in India are still tortured and dehumanized. Divorce laws in India are such that there are cases of harassment of women by men by not giving divorce and limits opportunities for remarriage and the vice versa. Any rational person would agree that the practice of triple talaq needs to be abolished because of the way it results in the abuse of women. India is a patriarchal society and that women have to wait for days and years in courts to solve the problems relating to divorce. Harsh abruptness of triple talaq has brought extreme misery to the divorced women and even to men who are left with no chance to undo the wrong.

Our marriages of whatever religion has always got sanctity and just because of the barbaric rule the relationship cannot be broken. Marriage is a sacrament and divorce is an inhuman act. Muslims consider it the most sinful form of ‘talaq ul biddat’ – triple talaq. Muslim personal laws need refurbish.

There has been a legal discrimination of Muslim women in our country. Muslim women are still subject to the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 which is silent on triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy. We need to be brought on a par with Hindu and Christian sisters who have a legal recourse. The Supreme Court, rightly points out that the practice of triple talaq was the “worst” and “not desirable” form of dissolution of marriages among Muslims, even though there were schools of thought which termed it as “legal”. Islam allows a wife the right of ‘khulah’ in which a woman can divorce her husband by giving up her rights, that is to claim her ‘mehr’ which the husband is duty-bound to give his wife, or even by disclaiming the dowry given to the man.  It is high time the Muslim Personal Law has to be brought clear rule for this evil.

Muslims in India should encourage their community to follow Indian law and order and keep religion out of it, like they expect Hindu religion influence in the name of secularism. Does triple-talaq offer any mechanism to review the intent to separate as does the courts today? We must put an end to this Stone Age practice of “Triple Talaq”, which is used by Muslim men to desert wives. All Muslim women must come out against polygamy and Triple Talaq practiced by Muslim men in the name of Islam. The only civilized way is a uniform civil code to ensure that every man and woman is treated equally, as promised by the constitution of India.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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