Triple talaq: Why is Muslim Law Board being misogynist?

Source : SIFY
By : Syed Ubaidur Rahman
Last Updated: Thu, Apr 28, 2016 08:34 hrs

The ‘savior’ of Sunni Islam in India, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, has said it is going to fight the ban on practice of triple talaq in India. People who have been following the Personal Law Board in the last few decades were not amused by the decision of the Islamic body in the country. The Board has behaved as the savior of Muslim men without giving a thought to the welfare of Muslim women.

This is due to the fact that the issue of triple talaq is a contentious issue among Muslims across the world, with several Muslim schools of thoughts questioning the validity of triple talaq in one setting. 

Many Muslim nations, including largely Sunni Muslim nations of Pakistan, Turkey, Tunisia and several others,  have banned the practice of triple talaq or divorce in a single sitting. When the Islamists,, An-Nahda, ruled in Tunisia after the Arab Spring some four years ago, the Tunisian arm of Muslim Brotherhood didn’t question the ban. 

In Turkey, a country that also follows Sunni Islam, Islamists have been ruling for more than a decade now. Despite their well-entrenched rule, the Justice and Welfare Party (AKP) hasn’t tried to reverse the ban on triple talaq, calling it contrary to Islamic spirit.

Whenever the issue of women’s rights is discussed, the issue of arbitrary divorce among Muslims arises without fail. It is true that the issue of arbitrary divorce plays havoc with the life of many women and leaves her without any support. While Muslim scholars in India have accepted that the triple talaq is not the right way to divorce one’s wife, they have always stressed that it is legit and valid.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, following the Shayara Bano case, has said it will oppose any move to scrap triple talaq and will not allow it to be termed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. 

Now there are signs that the nation may witness another Shah Bano type confrontation that took place in 1985. Shah Bano, an old woman with five kids, was divorced. She was awarded alimony by the Supreme Court. Nonetheless following the unprecedented ‘Save Shariah’ campaign, Muslim clergy succeeded in forcing the government to pass the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.

Triple Talaq is something that has no Quranic basis. While Quran calls the marriage contract as ‘mithaqan ghaliza’ or a very strong agreement, the practice of triple talaq in a single sitting makes it the weakest link. It makes the whole institution of marriage as something that is based on husband’s whims. 

Several Islamic schools of thoughts believe there is no concept of triple talaq in Islam. They are of the view that even if a man divorces his wife thrice in one go, it will be counted as one and the couple will have enough time to reconcile. Shias, on the contrary, believe when someone pronounces triple talaq in one go, it is not valid and will be void.

What Islam says about divorce
A man should divorce his wife merely once and it mustn’t be during her periods. It can be done when they have had no physical relation since the time of her last period.

Renowned Islamic scholar late Mukhtar Ahmad Nadvi in his book Talaq: Kitab-o Sunnat Ki Roshni Mein Tafsili Jai’za says the practice of triple talaq was sternly denounced by the Prophet Muhammad. He says that Prophet termed the practice of divorce the ‘most hated’ thing allowed in Islam. The maulana says in case of marital dispute the couple should do their best to resolve their differences through dialogue. Islam then asks the two families to appoint an arbiter (hakam) each from the family of both man and the woman. The maulana says during the lifetime of the Prophet, in case of divorce, the husband needed to tell the word talaq three times, spaced over three consecutive menstrual cycles of the wife. The two had to live in the same house and not have intimate relation. This way the two had enough time to contemplate and resolve their differences. If they decide to revoke talaq, they can get back to each other. After uttering the talaq third time, they cannot go back to each other.

Dr Ibrahim B. Syed, President Islamic Research Foundation International, US , in his oft quoted article writes, “From among the 'ulama of later period, Sheikh Shaltut, who was Sheikh al-Azhar, writes in his Fatwa that if one gives three divorces, only one divorce Talaq-i-raj'i will take place and the husband will have the right to take his wife back by saying so or by having sexual contact with her…'Allama Rashid Rida' in his Tafsir al-Manar (Vol. IX, p. 683) has expressed a similar opinion. 
Another contemporary eminent, Arab 'Alim Shaikh Jamal al-Din al-Qasim has discussed this problem at great length in his book al-Istinas and has concluded that triple divorce has no validity and it should be treated as one divorce only.  Quoting all these authorities Maulana 'Usmani says that triple divorce is not in keeping with the rulings of the Qur'an”.

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Syed Ubaidur Rahman is a New Delhi based writer and commentator. He has written several books on Muslims and Islam in India including Understanding Muslim Leadership in India.