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Muslim Women in India Retaliate against Triple Talaq Practice

The rate of divorce in Indian Muslim society is still very low and the issue is being blown out of proportion by some “anti-Muslim” forces, said Asma Zehra of AIMPLB

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Muslim brides wait for the start of a mass marriage ceremony in Ahmedabad, India. Image source: prothom-alo.com
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  • According to Islamic law, husbands can divorce their wives just by uttering the word ‘talaq’ thrice
  • This law has been condemned by many organizations, and even BJP leaders
  • Triple Talaq has been abolished in many Muslim countries, but not in India

After receiving a letter out of nowhere from her husband, which read the words, ‘talaq, talaq, talaq’, 25 year old Afreen Rahman began the uphill battle to demolish the unjust Muslim law which allows a man to divorce his wife by simply repeating the word, ‘talaq’, thrice.

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Thousands of other Muslim have to suffer the same injustice across India when their husbands decide to stop taking ownership and simply ask for a divorce instead of discussing problems. Even though this practice and the tradition of polygamy is not allowed by law in all of Hindu-majority India, things work a little differently in the Islamic community.

“I have moved the court because I don’t want any Muslim woman to go through the pain, torture and humiliation which I have gone through”, says Afreen.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is the legislative body that governs these matters for the 180 million people that live in India. This Board will oppose the law in court. However, this seems ironic, since the Board itself has declared that the triple talaq rule is non Quranic and called it haraam (forbidden). Despite this, it has passed a unanimous resolution urging the government to not interfere in its internal matters.

muslim women in India. Image source: ndtv.com
Muslim women in India. Image source: ndtv.com

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“We indeed condemn this practice. But AIMPLB being a moral body, it has no power to ban the practice. It can only advise or educate people against resorting to such practice”, says Asma Zehra, a member of the AIMPLB.

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, an organization that fights for Muslim women’s civil rights, found that 92 percent of Indian Muslim women wanted triple talaq banned. The Andolan has recorded instances in which Muslim marriages have been dissolved by the most trivial means, like WhatsApp or Facebook conversations. Apart from this, several leaders of the ruling BJP Party have been fighting to establish a single civil code that would govern the entire population of India on a secular basis. They feel the current state of affairs is very unfair and demeaning to Muslim women in India.

Hilal Ahmed, an assistant professor at New Delhi’s Center for the Study of Developing Societies, is also highly skeptical of this practice. He feels that if the Muslim Law Board can issue fatwas to ban use of mobile phones during religious proceedings, laws can be bent for the well being of Muslim women too.

“How can a practice that is patently unjust be Islamic?” asks Javed Anand, general secretary of the group Muslims for Secular Democracy while talking to Religion News. “I hold the AIMPLB guilty of perpetuating patriarchy and injustice against women in the name of Islam.”

According to Professor Tahir Mahmood, the custom of triple talaq has been long abolished in many Muslim countries, and he feels it is not right that the custom still exists in a secular country like India.

-prepared by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter Handle: @saurabhbodas96

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  • AJ Krish

    It is high time that we have a single civil code that would govern the entire population of India on a secular basis. The government can then interfere in all such matters.

  • Aparna Gupta

    How can one break marriage bond by just uttering three words of talaq? Its terrible.

Next Story

Triple Talaq Now Banned In India

While most Hindu personal laws have been overhauled and codified over the years, Muslim laws have been left to religious authorities and left largely untouched.

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India
Indian Muslim women talk while walking through a market in Ahmadabad, India. VOA

India’s government on Wednesday approved an ordinance to implement a top court ruling striking down the Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce.

The government decision came after it failed to get approval of Parliament a year after the court ruled that the practice of triple “talaq” violated the constitutional rights of Muslim women.

Most of the 170 million Muslims in India are Sunnis governed by the Muslim Personal Law for family matters and disputes. The laws include allowing men to divorce by simply uttering the Arabic word “talaq,” or divorce, three times — and not necessarily consecutively, but at any time, and by any medium, including telephone, text message or social media post.

Muslim
Triple Talaq continues to plague lives of  women, VOA News

The government will have another six months to get Parliament’s approval for the ordinance to become law. But in the meantime, suspects can be prosecuted using the ordinance.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that nearly 22 countries, including neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned the practice and appealed to the opposition to approve the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill.

India’s Muslim Law Board had told the court that while they considered the practice wrong, they opposed any court intervention and asked that the matter be left to the community. But several progressive Muslim activists decried the law board’s position.

Muslim
Muslim women hold placards during a protest against a bill passed by India’s lower house of Parliament last week that aims at prosecuting Muslim men who divorce their wives through the “triple talaq,” or instant divorce. VOA

After the Supreme Court verdict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government introduced a bill criminalizing the practice and it was approved in December by the lower house of Parliament, where his party commands a majority. But it couldn’t get the approval of the upper house, where the opposition controls the majority of seats.

The main opposition Congress party is opposing a three-year prison sentence for the offenders and wants a parliamentary committee to discuss the issue to reach a consensus. It favors a lesser sentence.

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In India, triple talaq has continued with the protection of laws that allow Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities to follow religious laws in matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption. While most Hindu personal laws have been overhauled and codified over the years, Muslim laws have been left to religious authorities and left largely untouched. (VOA)