Monday, December 10, 2012

Pronouncing 'Triple Talaq' in one sitting to end marriage: Time for Indian Muslims to say goodbye to this practice?

The Jammu & Kashmir High Court recently gave a landmark judgment on 'triple talaq', the abhorrent practice of giving divorce to woman by either uttering the word 'talaq' thrice in one sitting or through any other form of communication--letter, phone, SMS or email.

Justice Hasnain Masoodi clearly said that as per the Holy Quran and Shariat, the Muslim male doesn't have absolute power to give 'talaq' unilaterally, in one sitting.

In fact, the husband has to give a reason for it. Besides, the woman has to be given an opportunity to present her side before the qazi.

It is not that a man simply utters the dreaded word thrice and it severs the relationship. Rather, there should be attempts for reconciliation [or arbitration]. If one attempt fails and after a period of one month, the man again insists on divorce, then there should be a hiatus of one month again.

Further, just like there are witnesses during 'nikaah', where woman has the upper hand, and it is her assent after which the marriage is solemnised, the correct procedure in ending the marriage is that there should be witnesses.

In the end, when everything fails, the divorce is final. This is the process in accordance with Shariat. However, due to lack of awareness and social acceptance, the 'triple talaq' is not only practiced, it is commonly believed that verbal 'triple talaq' in one go, is right.

Strangely, there have been cases where a man, who was drunk, uttered the words and later regretted it. But the qazi gave fatwa that the relationship was over. Even though, it was in one sitting, and while drinking is prohibited in Islam, his action [in inebriated state] was considered as legal.

Clearly, there is need for reform. The voices should come from within the community. Unfortunately, there has been no such strong movement. The clergy [Ulema] are not too sympathetic towards the plight of women and kids who suffer because of this malpractice.

The learned judge cited that 'Talaq-e-Ahsan' is the only form of talaq that finds mention in Quran. The reason for duration of one month between separate sittings for pronouncing talaq is because often people utter the word without realising consequences, and later realise their mistake.

It is possible that after a period when anger subsides, the couple decides to remain united. Sadly, as soon as the verdict was known, some Ulema didn't react positively. The judge has quoted exhaustively from the religious texts and hasn't left any point untouched.

It's time that like other Muslim countries where the 'triple talaq' is not accepted, Indian Muslims also shun this  tradition. Talaq is considered one of the most despised acts in Islam and there is a provision for it, in extreme situations. However, this form of talaq has become a joke. Innumerable women suffer as a result.

Organisations working for women's rights are quite buoyed by the ruling. One hopes that the verdict in the case of Bilquis Akhtar, would help in clearing the misconceptions regarding the 'Triple talaq' as well as educating Muslim society in this regard.

Read post on this blog over the issue of Talaq in the past:

The practice of triple talaq: Is Talaq=Mazaq?