The matter of ‘Triple Talaq’ reached the Supreme Court through a plea filed by Saira Bano, who challenged the three rules related to Nikah (wedding). These rules are: Talaq-e-Biddah, Nikah-e-Halala and a man’s right to have four wives. Supreme Court banned the controversial Islamic divorce practice “triple talaq” in a landmark ruling. The practice, that stretches back over a thousand years, allows a husband to divorce his wife by simply saying the Arabic word for divorce, talaq, three times.
The five-judge bench did not unanimously ban the practice, which Balaji Srinivasan, one of the lawyers on the case, called “disappointing.” Instead, three judges ruled that it was unconstitutional, while the remaining two judged that it should be up to the country’s parliament to pass legislation officially banning the practice. The majority decision is that triple talaq is banned in law. From now on in India, the law is that there is no practice of triple talaq which is held to be valid.
Much of the legal argument hinged on the question of whether striking down the practice would violate religious freedom. However, the judge in the majority ruling concluded, on the basis of an act in 1937 that enshrined Muslim legal beliefs and traditions into law, anything that was “anti-Quranic” was therefore banned and didn’t deserve constitutional protection. According to the majority ruling, triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran and consequently, it violates Shariat … What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has publicly advocated for a ban, added his voice to those celebrating the ruling. In a tweet on his official account, the prime minister called the court’s decision “historic,” adding that it “grants equality to Muslim women and is a powerful measure for women empowerment.”
Shagufta Shah, in her third month of pregnancy had written to Modi fearing that her husband will abandon her children and her if she gives birth to another girl. The woman is at the end of her first trimester. In her message to the Prime Minister, she urged him to bring an end to ‘Triple Talaq’ – an Islamic tradition, where a man just has to utter the word ‘talaq’, or divorce thrice in order to leave his wife. Shagufta, who already has two daughters, fears for the well being of her children. She claims that her in-laws have been pressuring her to abort the foetus. They ‘fear’ she might give birth to another girl. She also alleges that her husband has verbally divorced her and thrown her out of the house. Many lives are ruined in such cruel practices.
In Islam, everything is followed as per Sunnah (Deeds of the prophet). Hence, most Muslim women bodies opposing ‘triple talaq’ want the Muslim bodies’ to adopt ‘Talaq-e-Sunnah’ (Divorce as per the Prophet’s sayings and Quranic dictation) and discard ‘Talaq-e-Biddah’ (Divorce as per a later formed mode of divorce which propagates instant divorce).
According to Sharia law, a woman has no say in the matter of ‘triple talaq’. The decision is entirely that of her husband, who doesn’t even have to pay any maintenance or alimony. The tradition also gives this right only to a man. A woman can’t do the same to her husband. Nikah is essentially a contract laid down in a ‘Nikahnama’ drawn between the husband and the wife. This contract can have conditions and has a compulsory ‘consideration’ (Meher) to be paid at the time of the marriage. This consideration is paid by the man to the wife, and can be at time waived off by the woman as per her own will. So, the basic difference between a Hindu Marriage and a Muslim Marriage is that for Hindus, marriage is a divine sacrament whereas for Muslims, it is contract drawn between the husband and the wife.
The Quran advises the husband to settle the differences through a mutual conversation as the first step. This step is known as the Fa’izu Hunna. If the differences continue between the husband and the wife, the parties should refrain from any conjugal acts till they settle their dispute. This step of physical separation known as the “Wahjuru Hunna” is prescribed so that the couple re-unites. However, even if this second step fails, it is recommended that the husband must attempt to talk to the wife, make peace with her and talk about the seriousness of the circumstances. This third step is known as the Wazribu Hunna. However, Quran advises that even if the third step fails, the fourth step of ‘arbitration’ must be followed. In this step, members from each of the spouses’ family are present and the parties try to make amends in the strained relationship. It is only after these four steps have failed that a husband pronounces the first talaq.
The practice of ‘Nikah-e-Halala’, is much more awful and cruel than the talaq. Many Muslim women have condemned this practice as barbaric and it assumes more importance, in case the talaq is given as Talaq-e-Biddah. Women have often described it as a barbaric practice and there are demands to abolish this practice. Muslim women have come out on the side of rights and justice. They want this biased system of verbal triple talaq and practices like “Nikah-e-Halala” to stop. A soft revolution is underway in India, led by a group of Muslim women who believe that the peaceful, rational and equal Islamic ideology has been usurped by dogmatic and misogynist views of a few who see women as the weaker sex. This coming together of victims, scholars and activists seems to be the beginning of a new feminist movement in the Islamic world. These women are seeking reinterpretations of the hadiths and traditions based on Prophet Muhammad’s life. Fortunately, this time even government promises them the impartiality and the justice delivered through court of law. Let’s hope for more such changes and freedom from these cruel religious customs.
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