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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.

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For Plea Against Polygamy Supreme Court Takes Centre’s Response

personal laws must meet the test of constitutional validity and constitutional morality

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre on a fresh plea that challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims in India.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre on a fresh plea that challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims in India. Flickr

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre on a fresh plea that challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims in India.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud issued the notice to the Centre and tagged the plea with similar petitions pending before it.

The fresh plea filed by Women Resistance Committee Chairperson Nazia Ilahi Khan, a practicing advocate at the Calcutta High Court, has challenged the practice of polygamy, ‘nikah halala’, ‘nikah mutah’ (temporary marriage among Shias) and ‘nikah misyar’ (short-term marriage among Sunnis) on the grounds that these were violative of the Constitution’s Articles 14, 15 and 21.

Under ‘nikah halala’, if a Muslim woman after divorce by her husband three times on different instances, wants to go back to him, she has to marry another person and then divorce the second husband to get re-married to her first husband.

“Declare the dissolution of the Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution in so far as it fails to secure for the Indian Muslim women the protection from bigamy which has been statutorily secured for Indian women from other religions,” said her plea filed through advocate V.K. Biju.

The apex court has been hearing pleas filed by Sameena Begum, Nafisa Khan, Moullium Mohsin and BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay on the issue.

Article 14 guarantees equality before law, Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and Article 21 guarantees protection of life and personal liberty.

Telling the court that though different religious communities are governed by different personal laws, Upadhyay had contended that “personal laws must meet the test of constitutional validity and constitutional morality in as much as they cannot be violative of Articles 14, 15, and 21”.

Pointing to the “appalling” affect of polygamy and other such practices on the Muslim women, senior counsel Mohan Parasaran had earlier told the apex court that the 2017 judgment holding instant ‘triple talaq’ as unconstitutional had left these two issues open and did not address them.

Polygamy, Man along with his 5 wives
Polygamy, Man along with his 5 wives. Flickr

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by then Chief Justice J.S. Khehar (since retired), by a majority judgment in 2017, had said: “Keeping in view the factual aspect in the present case, as also the complicated questions that arise for consideration in this case (and, in the other connected cases), at the very outset, it was decided to limit the instant consideration to ‘talaq-e-biddat’ or triple talaq.

Also read: Goa Common Civil Code forbids neither Oral Divorce nor Polygamy among Muslims: Governor

“Other questions raised in the connected writ petitions, such as polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ (and other allied matters), would be dealt with separately. The determination of the present controversy may, however, coincidentally render an answer even to the connected issues.” (IANS)