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Friday, April 21, 2006

The practice of Triple Talaq among Indian Muslims: Is Talaaq = Mazaaq?

Initially titled 'Talaq', but later released as Nikaah*
In Islam, marriage is a contract as per which a man has the right to divorce his wife in extreme situations.

Also, a woman can seek Khula'a and get out of the wedlock. But the abuse of the religious sanction of talaaq is aquiring bizarre proportions lately.

A man gave talaaq to his wife on cell phone, another just sent an SMS message with talaq written thrice in it and the third person uttered the word thrice either in a drunken state or in his sleep.

All these incidents were reported recently. In the last incident, it was the wife who sought the advice of neighbouring women for opinion and from there the news spread.

Despite the fact that even pronouncing talaaq thrice in one sitting should be counted as just one, the local residents insist the marriage is 'haraam' and the poor family is suffering and husband, wife living separately. Their kids are the worst sufferers.

When I was a teenager, I felt that the practice of talaaq is too much vilified by other communities. After all, it was also a facility. You had the option to get out of a bad marriage, if there is abuse or other issues. There was no bondage for entire life [or even afterlife].

But now I feel anguished at such abuse of a religious practice. So what should be done? The Ulema are silent at this blatant misuse of a 'right' or say option to separate. Should we expect something from umbrella organisations like AIMPLB that have 201 members belonging to all Muslim sects.

But they are silent. The demand for a law to stop the misuse should come from within the Muslims else it will be deemed a 'madakhlat' or intervention in Muslim affairs. Shouldn't Muslim society see the need and do something to ensure that the sacrosanct contract of marriage does not get so abused. 

It is a fact that the fear of triple talaaq hangs on the head of women like a sword. At least, it should be decided that triple talaq is one sitting be held as single pronouncement and the next pronouncements should come after the proper duration. [Though this is the way in several Muslim countries as per Shariat].

But we have not yet managed to get a consensus on this. More than media criticism or the sullying image of Muslims, one should genuinely feel concerned. And a system to adhere to the proper adehrence of the process to give talaaq is needed for the Muslim society as a whole.

Politicians aren't supposed to do that. Muslim intellectuals and leaders who are progressive are few and lose touch with the poor masses. We have given up on Ulema, some of whom are just happy getting Rajya Sabha seats like the Madani family that heads the influential Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind. Blogging and giving vent to our frustration wouldn't help.

I know a girl, who was married to a youth living in USA. The NRI came and married and returned alone with the promise of taking her later. However, he never took her. The girl's parents made umpteen pleas and sent messages but he stopped responing or taking calls.

He sent a written note of divorce one day as he had later married in US and had earlier come to India and married under his parental pressure. Now what is that? Such criminal carelessness with which talaaq is given must have shaken us but we don't seem perturbed, why?

Time for the Muslim society to stand up. Evolve a consensus and do something to stop this malpractice. Devise an internal mechanism and then approach government to get the needed changes in the Muslim Personal Law passed.

The Muslim society must decide whether they have to take the marriage seriously or at least in the name or observign religious tenets strictly. Redeem the institution of marriage. Otherwise it will be nothing but Mazaaq [Joke].

Read another post 'Triple Talaq And Deoband Turns into a Fatwa Factory' that was written much later on this blog.

[*The Salma Agha-starrer Nikaah was a Bollywood movie that had created awareness about the prevalence of the malpractice of triple talaq in Indian Muslim society. The BR Chopra movie had Raj Bbbar play the lead role.]