The message of Islam when it was delivered to the Prophet and through him to the world around him was one of peace, progress and justice.
The first word that was revealed in the Quran was ‘Iqra’ [read] [Quran:96:1]. I find it ironical that though we do read the Quran often and memorise it by heart, we do not take the trouble to understand it and go by its literal meaning instead of the spirit.
If we were to really read the Quran we would know that, though the right to divorce or talaq is given, it is also considered the most despicable of things deemed halal or legitimate in the eyes of God.
Further there are very strict rules of talaq prescribed in a chapter by the same name.
The two methods for divorce are known as talaq e hasan and talaq e ehsan, both of which must undergo a period of three months from the first pronouncement to the last. Attempts at reconciliation and arbitration take place in the former method. There is no legitimacy in either method in pronouncing the word talaq thrice (talaq e biddat/ divorce of wrongful innovation), over a few seconds in one go.
Of course, this so-called “instant triple talaq” must be immediately dispensed with – just like it has been done in several countries where Islamic law prevails. Gender equality is a guaranteed right under the Constitution to all Indians, irrespective of religion or caste.
But let me also say that it’s time that all of us Indians also shed the stereotypical image of the Muslim woman as a timid, burqa clad woman with a bevy of children, cowering under the threat of an instant triple talaq. This stereotype is far from the truth. I believe it is being politicised and manipulated by people who don’t have the interests of Muslim women at heart. Unfortunately, it is in the name of this woman that the battle against ‘triple talaq’ is being fought by the current ruling dispensation.
I don’t deny that several Muslim women are subdued and repressed but isn’t that true for women of all other religions, Hindu and Sikh and Christian and Parsi? Statistics show that the percentage of abandoned women belonging to other faiths is far higher. The truth is that patriarchy is far more responsible for these than religion alone. The modern Muslim woman is not a victim of dogma. Under the hijab lies a sense of empowerment and achievement.
Truth is, the movement for equality of Muslim women has been hijacked by political parties with their own axe to grind. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), an NGO that was started in 1972, is trying to hang on to its power by one means or another. Maulvis have forgotten that the golden age of Islam emerged from ijtihad or the use of reason and critical thought to arrive at the knowledge of truth. Shutting the doors of ijtihad is what is dragging us down.
As a citizen of India my eyes are turned towards the Supreme Court today.