The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Sunday said instant triple talaq — in which the husband says ‘talaq’ thrice in quick succession — is “wrong”, but is still a valid way to end a marriage.
The Board, however, also said Muslims who “misuse” instant triple talaq would face a “social boycott” from the community. It issued an eight-point code of conduct on divorces and marital disputes as it sought to counter the perception that Sharia-based Muslim personal law is prejudiced against women.
At the end of the two-day meeting of its executive committee — which was dominated by the issue of triple talaq — the AIMPLB also iterated that it would “accept the Supreme Court’s verdict alone” on the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. “The title suit is pending in the Supreme Court and sooner the verdict comes the better,” AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani told reporters.
Not only was triple talaq valid, conveying it by a mobile phone message too, was valid, Rahmani said. He drew a parallel with sending an invitation card instead of inviting in person — the card is considered enough to convey the invitation for a wedding, and the host is not required to go himself, Rahmani said.
In a statement issued after the meeting at the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama Islamic seminary in Lucknow, AIMPLB president Maulana Rabey Hasani Nadvi said Muslims have “complete constitutional right” to practise their personal law, which also put the responsibility on the community to “protect it by fully adhering to it”.
The Sharia has given equal rights to men and women, and it is the responsibility of the community to provide those rights to women, Nadvi said. There are “large-scale misconceptions” about Muslim personal law, especially the law of talaq, because of lack of “correct information”, he said.
“The correct argument is that the talaq has been kept to save the women from danger,” the statement said, adding that if a few people misuse it, what is required is not a change in the law, but the reforming of such people.
When Muslims are not allowed to force their religious beliefs on others, the traditions of other religions should also not be imposed on them, Nadvi said.
The Board’s code of conduct said the Sharia considered marriage “a permanent and stable relationship”. In the first three points, it urged Muslim couples to try to settle their differences by themselves, attempt temporary separation, and involve family members for reconciliation and arbitration.
If mediation does not work, triple talaq should be employed, but with fixed waiting periods between declaration of talaq for the first, second and third times. The husband should leave the wife after giving the first talaq, and allow the waiting period of iddat get over. If a compromise is reached during the waiting period, they should restart their relationship, the Board has said.
According to the code of conduct, if the wife is pregnant, the waiting period will continue until the pregnancy is over. The husband will have to give maintenance to his wife for the waiting period of iddat, and return the mehar (promised at the time of marriage) after the divorce is finalised.
It has also said the husband should strictly follow the waiting period and declare talaq for the first time in the first month, for the second time in the second month and for the third time in the third month in “paki (pure) condition”.
It has said that the wife too can end the marriage by using khula. The eighth point in the code of conduct states that the Muslim community should socially boycott the person who gives instant triple talaq. This social boycott, Rahmani said, would be similar to the practice of denying “hookah paani (social contact)”.
Rahmani told reporters that the Board has appealed to imams of mosques and clerics to stress on adherence to the code of conduct in their speeches at Friday prayers. He said the Board would help women who have suffered due to the “unjust use of triple talaq”.
The rate of divorce among Muslims, Rahmani said, was much lower than what is sometimes portrayed in the media. He sought to clarify the practice of halala: “The meaning of halala is that the woman is haram for the husband after talaq. She can then marry another person. And if her second husband dies or the couple gets divorced, she can return to her first husband. This is not like it’s done on purpose.”
Rahmani did not comment on the BJP governments’ support to the demand for an end to instant triple talaq. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said that his government would present its “stand formed on the basis of Muslim women’s opinion” to the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions related to triple talaq. Adityanath has asked for a plan to gather the views of Muslim women, and directed ministers to meet with women’s groups.
Board member Kamal Faruqui rejected as incorrect the “propaganda” that a lot of women were affected by triple talaq. Another member, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali, said Muslims had a lower rate of divorce than non-Muslims.
Asma Zahra of the AIMPLB women’s wing said the Board had collected 5.81 crore signatures — including from 2.71 crore women — from individuals who said they wanted to follow Muslim personal law and opposed uniform civil code. Muslim women have the right to remarry after divorce and after the death of their husband, she said.
Zahra said the Board is working to help women affected by instant triple talaq, and has set up a toll-free helpline. “We have received 15,500 calls on the helpline. Most of the calls are not on the issue of triple talaq but related to marital discord and family disputes. Men are also calling to seeking help to counsel their wives. The real issues for women are dowry, female infanticide and security of women,” she said.
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