The stand taken by the government that the new law is mainly to safeguard Muslim women from being abandoned has not cut much ice among the community; especially when there are more pressing issues staring at the community. The stand taken by the opposition parties and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) that the new law must pass the scrutiny of the community concerned and that it must be referred to a select committee of Parliament before it is enacted is therefore understandable. However, the negligence on the part of the AIMPLB can never be ignored; the victims of triple talaq wouldn’t have to move court had the AIMPLB settled their issues at its level but the lackadaisical attitude of the personal law board somewhere forced the victims of triple talaq to move the court.
Islam has given women the right to divorce but due to the lack of knowledge and information most of the women are unaware of their own rights while others who are aware, rarely exercise those rights due to patriarchal system of our society. Islam has safeguarded liberty of women. The concept of Nikah and Talaq (divorce) were laid down in holy Quran. So, what does Islam say about divorce or Talaq? The Quran has many surahs, such as at-Talaq, al-Baqarah and an-Nisa, that contain commandments related to divorce and nullification of marriage. However, the provision of Talaq is for the extremely inevitable circumstances only.
There are certain situations in which Talaq is prohibited by as per Quran:
• The pronouncement of “Triple Talaq” all at one time is not allowed.
• The declaration of three or more Talaq at a time will be counted as only one.
• Talaq, if pronounced in extreme anger, is invalid.
• It is prohibited to divorce one’s wife during her menstruation.
It is clear that Islam has allowed Talaq albeit under strict conditions. The basic and foremost condition is that “Triple Talaq” is not what mainstream media tells it to be. After pronouncing Talaq, a man should wait for three menstrual cycles of the woman. As stated in the first Ayah of Surah at-Talaq:
O Prophet, when you (Muslims) divorce women, divorce them for (the commencement of) their waiting period and keep count of the waiting period, and fear Allah, your Lord. Do not turn them out of their (husbands’) houses, nor should they (themselves) leave (during that period) unless they are committing a clear immorality. And those are the Limits (set by) Allah. And whoever transgresses the Limits of Allah has certainly wronged himself. You know not; perhaps Allah will bring about after that a (different) matter.
Even after the pronouncement of Talaq, a man cannot force his wife to leave the house rather he is ordered to provide for her. He should treat her nicely and should not torture her mentally or physically. It is the responsibility of the man to arrange food and lodging for the wife (for that period of three cycles); As the Qur’an says, “Lodge them (in a section) of where you dwell out of your means and do not harm them in order to oppress them.”
The preferred and advocated types of Talaq according to the holy Quran are Talaq-e-hassan and Talaq-e-Ahsan, which advocates the pronouncement of talaq in three consecutive intervals of three menstrual cycles of a woman or with the difference of one month between each pronouncement of talaq. After the third utterance of talaq, it becomes irrevocable while during the first and second declaration of talaq, there are still chances of revoking the talaq or reconciliation. Triple Talaq at one go has been defined by the Ulemas as Talaq-e-Biddat that is a form of divorce which is innovated (innovation) and this form of Talaq has never been preferred in Islam and its no-where mentioned in the Quran too; thus it would be beneficial for the society to shun such an inhumane and merciless practice. As its been quoted that, “Something, which is bad in Theology, how can it be good in Law”; thereby the Supreme Court has declared the triple talaq (at one go) void, which was an exemplary decision for securing the rights of women. Along with that it has been accepted that Talaq-e-Biddat is an unacceptable form of talaq and is equivalent to a sin. Nevertheless the Muslim Women Protection on Rights of Marriage Bill 2017; is an appreciable step on the part of the recent government yet it raises some unavoidable questions.
The most protested issue of Muslim Women Protection on Rights of Marriage Bill is the provision of 3 years jail for the accused of triple talaq as well as the provision for the safeguarding allowance to the victim (divorced wife). The two provisions seem very much contradictory to each other; while being in jail how the man would bear the compensatory allowance. Moreover such a cognizable law can well easily be misused also; so it can be made a non-cognizable law as we have in the case of polygamy; where the action would be taken on the complaint of the victim only.
The other objection raised is, when marriage in Islam is a social contract then how can there be legal and criminal laws attached to such a social issue. Being a social contract Muslim marriage is registered in the form of Nikahnama, which records even the amount of “Maher” so as to avoid any sort of discrepancies later on. Similarly; if AIMPLB had given it importance to add the clause of Talaq in the same Nikahnama, then many women would have been saved from facing a traumatic life. Still such an initiative is required on the part of Muslim Personal Law to mention in the Nikahnama that the Triple Talaq is void and such practice would be punishable.
The practice of triple talaq at one go is undoubtedly an appalling and cruel practice, which should be ended as soon as possible but the rights of both the genders should be taken into consideration.
Written By: Dr. Sadaf Fareed
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