There should be an internal mechanism to curb triple talaq, like naming and shaming the man who arbitrarily divorces his wife, Muslim scholars have said, emphasising that the government must stay out of the community’s personal laws.
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They termed the government’s raking up the issue at this time as an election gimmick, and pointed out that there were several misconceptions about triple talaq, or talaq-e-bidat.
Notwithstanding their dogmatic differences, the Muslim scholars IANS spoke to — from Hanafis to Ahle Hadith and from Deobandis to Barelvis and even Shias — categorically decried any interference by the government in matters “which are purely religious”, calling any such attempt “unconstitutional”.
However, they agreed that there must be a mechanism to protect women against the arbitrary behaviour of men who are prone to pronounce talaq “without valid reasons”.
“Such men must be punished, and the community should evolve a mechanism, including boycotting them socially. Nobody should get his daughter married to that man ever again,” Maulana Abdul Hameed Naumani of the Jamiat Ulema Hind, told IANS.
He said that although triple talaq, or pronouncing the equivalent of “I divorce thee” thrice in one sitting, is haraam (prohibited and sinful) the divorce is anyway effected.
According to Muslim Personal Law, if a husband utters only two talaqs, his wife can continue to stay with him, but after the third talaq the divorce comes into effect immediately. The husband can neither stay with his wife nor remarry her until the nikah-e-halala is done.
A nikah-e-halala is one where the woman is required to marry another man (as and when that happens) and if the second husband divorces her willingly (not under coercion or as an understanding) after consummation of marriage, only then can the first husband remarry the woman.
“This condition was set as a punishment for those men who would pronounce talaq arbitrarily,” Naumani explained.
A Barelvi cleric, Maulana Ansar Raza, too, agreed there should be some checks against men divorcing their wives without legitimate reasons. “But triple talaq cannot be wished away. You cannot alter the law of Allah,” he added.
Milli Council General Secretary Manzoor Alam, however, spoke in favour of triple talaq. “What if a man finds his wife in a compromising position with another man, or gets evidence of her extramarital affair? Generally, a person would be enraged in such a situation and may take the extreme step. So, instead of killing the woman or killing oneself, there is the easy way out of marriage through triple talaq,” Alam argued.
Kamal Farooqui, a vocal Muslim and member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said that he is not surprised at the Narendra Modi government trying to politicise the issue of talaq in the garb of social reform.
“It is part of their communal agenda. They are trying to create all sorts of misconceptions,” Farooqui said, adding that divorce is a most unpleasant word for Allah.
He suggested that to curb triple talaq, conditions can be set in the nikahnama, or the contract of nikah. “In Islam, marriage is a social contract. The woman and her guardians have every right and liberty to set the conditions of the nikah as per their convenience,” he said.
Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq echoed Farooqui’s stand. “In Shia jurisprudence, there is no concept of triple talaq. But in sections of Muslim society where this practice is prevalent, the ulema should sit together and decide what they can do to curb it,” Kalbe Sadiq said.
However, he added, there is “no scope for the government’s interference” in the matter.
Ahle Hadith cleric Maulana Asghar Ali Salafi, too, agreed with Kalbe Sadiq. “There is no concept of triple talaq in our jurisprudence. But those practising it are doing so according to their belief system and their interpretation of the Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence).
“Nobody, including the government, has any business interfering with it, most certainly not for votes,” Salafi said.
Muslim scholars also rejected the contention that triple talaq be banned as it is in several Muslim countries.
“Suppose it is banned in 22 countries. But there are 52 Muslim countries, which means it is still in practice in the majority of Muslim countries,” said Manzoor Alam.
“We live in India, not in Saudi or Pakistan. We are bound by Indian laws, not of any other country, and the Constitution of India guarantees us freedom to profess and practise our religion,” Raza said.