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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.]


Mridula said...

Thanks for giving me this perspective. You right in a very balanced manner.

web host said...
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indscribe said...

Thanks Mridula

Diganta said...

Great writing ... indeed the laws need some change - after all the purpose of a law is to separate bad from good.

Anonymous said...

The only solution is to revoke all religous law and implement a uniform civil code. India is a democracy and not a theocracy. This way society at large would avoid any perverse religous law,be it hindu,muslim or christian.

Diganta said...

"The only solution is to revoke all religous law and implement a uniform civil code." - forcing a law is not easy- that'll alienate the Muslims from India. Better, we need consensus on it.

Anonymous said...

a uniform civil code is the ultimate way to have justice.
somehow, when a UCC comes up, appeasing the muslim community becomes of utmost come?
a UCC means that hindus, christians, jains, buddhists, sikhs and of course muslims would come under its vigilance. if the other communities can "learn" or "adapt" themselves...there is no need for people to assume that muslims will get alienated. besides this could well be the ultimate test of patriotism and equality. if india passes this test, it will become strong as hell. so it is in the interest of the nation that a uniform civil code be brought into effect.

history_lover said...

See special issue of Sabrang magazine dedicated to the "Triple Talaq" issue.

Sadaf said...

India is a very unique country in that its legal system includes Islamic family law in a country where Muslim’s are a minority. I think it is a great thing. As a Muslim, whether or not your country of residence has an Islamic family law, one wishes to have our marriage-Nikkah service, our inheritance, etc done in accordance to Islam.

I am not familiar with how the Muslim Personal Board in India operates and what their process of review of the laws is; there should be such a process in place to handle issue such as current problems with divorce. It is important to realize that Islamic jurisprudence is not something which is stagnant, but something that can be changed based on the needs of the society and circumstances of the current times and place. For example, Imam Shafi, an important Muslim scholar, while he lived in Baghdadm he developed his first school of thought. Later, when he moved to Egypt, he realized that the people and society of Egypt was different from Baghdad, thus this affected his ideas and he established a second jurisprudence. He noticed the Egyptian people were very emotional, and thus based on his understanding and reinterpretation of Quran and Hadith came to the conclusion that divorce cannot be counted as three times in one sitting. Thus, based on evidence of Quran and Hadith, Islamic scholars/jurists with proper training and knowledge may interpret and make additions to the law with consensus of other scholars. This is similar to how the Supreme Court in the United States has the role of judicial review of legislation.

Secondly, I think Muslim women should be also encouraged to pursue Islamic knowledge and be involved in this process. Seeking knowledge is an obligation for both males and females in Islam and needs to be encouraged in our societies. I think it is important to have Muslim women scholars of Islam involved in Islamic jurisprudence; our viewpoint and interpretation will be different from males and thus this is important field that women should be involved in.

Of course India is not a theocracy, but having in place Muslim family laws shows respect and tolerance. I am proud to be Indian. There is nothing perverse about Islamic laws...just needs to adapt to modern times.

Ye manzilen !! said...

I have YET to meet a man or a woman who marries with divorce in mind.

May be problem lies someplace else, where we are NOT looking....

:) Peace..

munaeem said...

The practice of relying on one text while ignoring another is a destructive process that lends itself to abuse. As a student of the Torah and the Talmud, particularly the Babylonian Talmud known as the Gemara, I do not allow myself to take at face value the words spoken by Joshua, son of Nun, on a certain occasion in a given context. By the same token, I cannot accept that saddaq (dowry) is an article of Jewish faith just because King Saul demanded it from David, son of Jesse of Bethlehem (King David for the Jews, the Prophet David for the Muslims) for the hand of his daughter Michal. I cannot go around brandishing this text as a divine revelation outside its historical, human and chronological framework.

In short, we are dealing here with not just one single model of Islam but with a multitude of interpretations by different schools. For example, the number of the Prophet's Hadiths regarded as sources of religious doctrine and practice varies widely from one school to another. The great jurist Abu Hanifa accepts just over a hundred as apostolic precept, while the conservative theologian Ahmed ibn-Hanbal accepts over ten thousand in his book Al-Musnad.

Tarek Heggy...
Islam: Where to?

Anonymous said...

Often even in Modern law we come across many rulings which look illogical to a layman with little knowledge of the intricacies of the law and the process of interpreting the law. Thus for many people the action of courts granting large sums of compensation for people suing each other for what seems frivolous reasons.

For example a persons dog bit a visitor as he was ringing the door bell of the dog owner. The Dog owner did not do anything or call off the dog and the visitor was severely mauled. But the visitor got no relief from the criminal court here in Austin Texas. On the other hand a married daughter visiting her mother fell down in the driveway and sued her mother and got great amount of compensation from the mothers insurance company. All the while both mother and daughter are on good terms.
So unless we look into all the details of the rulings and the reasonings we cannot judge whether a particular ruling say validity of divorce on email or SMS is valid or not. My experience is that in many cases the reasonings and the evidence given for some of the much maligned rulings are quite sophisticated and often they stand up to the scrutiny of common sense and test of applicability of law even to a western lawyer.

That said there are quite a few deficiencies in the way the Islamic law is practiced and the capabilities of its practitioners.

Lets face it this is a complete law system and obviously as any discipline it requires input from brilliant minds, necessary investment and infrastructure in training and oversight. In all these aspects we find that there are serious lacunae.

Obviously we dont find the best minds going and studying Islamic law. Training is sketchy not in the least because of lack of funds and career prospects. Oversight which should be happening by responsible bodies who have the necessary wherewithal to command respect as well as give direction is just not there. Almost all Muslim countries including the so called Islamic Countries Islamic law is the hand madien of the powers that be. Often those who rule are without popular will.
Islamic elements of most countries are inexperienced and of reactionary type.

Islamic law and jurisprudence has stagnated for the last 300 years. No wonder we have these kind of problems.

That apart you will find that in most of the cases of mentioned above the problem is specifically in Sunni Law specifically Hanafi law.
If you look at Shia rulings you will not find the problems that are often mentioned in the media often.
(Disclousure, I happen to be a Shia).


Lovingly2007 said...

I agree with what parvez has said. I dont have enough knowledge about Islam but i happened to read Holy Koran. it was just a co incidence that I read the translation of the chapter called Talaq. It clearly stated the ways and means of divorcing. It was totally opposite to what most of the muslims follow across the globe. I think they are going against their Holy book. I would advise muslims to read the chapter Talaq which clearly explains a very good procdure for divorce. one more interesting point that I faintly remember is that the koran has also condemned Talaq. here is the URL where you could get the details.

You may read the 2nd verse that explains the procedure.

Freinds correct me if I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

I think u r right at some places.
But the thing is that only blogging or commenting won't work .We have to work on ground .We have to only make the process wise and strict .Like ,at at the time of Nikah,person from both side are present and their signatures are required.So ,why not we should make it mandatory at the time of divorce and time paying meher .Hope ,this won't remain an idea only but will be implemented too.

iqrar ahmad said...

i don't believe this that a man only does this to a woman.

i myself have been the victim of divorce. i were marriend on 13 may 2007. my wife used to visit her maika every fortnight and for days never used to come. she used to take money from me and than one fine day on 16 november 2007 she went and when my parents went to take her back, she never showed her face, her brothers abused my old parents and threatened them with dire consequences.

later on they asked us a sum of 2 lacs or to face a dowry harrasment case,which we never did.

Anonymous said...

I have studied in J.M.I.Delhi & Kashmir university where I discussed some issues with a lot of my Muslim friends & now working in a Gulf countrty.I m happy to notice that many of my muslim friends are aware and eager to amend muslime laws in India.Those who are educated, they are well informed and unsatisfied with their conservative set up of their society. They want to do something but are helpless due to politics of India.They must be united and work together to awaken the so called leaders of Muslims.Someone have to take initiatives, I hope lots of muslim youths will come forward to support them.

Anonymous said...

I am really happy to see somebody who has the moral guts to talk about some of the impractical rules.

Similar look at poly gamy by people who cannot afford.

Education for all including female gender.

Anonymous said...

Praise be to Allah:
Tallaq can not be done in one sitting, and it requires three consective months (women cycles)for Talaq, if Husbend and wife reconsile after first talaq no need to ReNikkah, if the Word Talaq uttered two times in Two different occasion and Wife and Husbend need to live togather then renikah is a must, after 3rd time of utterinf word Talaq no reconcile and shall live seperately forever because Marriage in islam consider very serious affair. Please read Quran with Translation,
There shall be no Joke in Allah's defined command, May Allah give us Hidaya and wisdom Ammeen.
May Allah forgive me if I am wrong and, I am not an Alim nor I think that I have more knwldge then others. Allah is supream and we shall return to him.

Anonymous said...


What we need is rational ,secular UCC. Not just reform of one aspect, talaq. But proper secularism. where individual rights are of prime importance and injustices like polygamy, triple talq and many more will not be tolerated in the name of religion.