By Kouser Fathima
The endless discussion about Talaq, aided by media’s obsession and comments by all, has only added to the confusion. Everybody and anybody have something to say about the topic. Some are genuinely concerned about its effect on Muslim women and many others are using the issue for political and social mileage.
Before dwelling more, we need to clarify the difference between Triple Talaq and Instant Triple Talaq.
“Talaq, in simple words, is a divorce given by husband to his wife. According to Islamic provision, Talaq has to be pronounced thrice at an interval of three menstrual cycles.”
After the first Talaq, usually an arbitrary meeting is arranged by the families, so as to reconcile. If the couple reconcile after the first and the second pronouncements, the Talaq is invalid and they can continue as husband and wife. If there is no reconciliation even after the second pronouncement, then the divorce is finalised in the presence of two witnesses. The lady has to fulfil the Idath or the waiting period, after which all marital relationships come to an end between them. Both are free to remarry and start their new life after they mutually decide about the custody of children, if any.
So, technically speaking, all Muslim Talaq involve Triple Talaqs. This method is widely accepted and followed by most Muslim majority countries.
Instant Triple Talaq /Triple Talaq at one go
“Ironically some Indian Muslims practice Instant Triple Talaq, wherein the husband divorces the wife at a one go, pronouncing the word ‘Talaq’ thrice and ending the marriage immediately.”
The men who opt for this method pronounce Talaq orally at one go, i.e., Talaq, Talaq, and Talaq. Some even convey it on phone or even through SMS. The reasons can vary: from anger, misunderstandings or pre-planned move by the husband to instantly end the marriage without any room for patch-up. In short, an easy and convenient way out for the husband to leave the wife shocked, unsupported, and at the mercy of others. The biggest drawback in this method is that the wife is mostly unaware of the husband’s intentions; she is left with no time or option to question or protest his decision.
Many women and activists have strongly protested against this. They have repeatedly urged the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and the government to amend the instant TT custom but to no avail. The AIMPLB, including its women members, has not realised the adverse effects on women’s lives or has deliberately ignored the issue. Hence, they have never tried to address the issue seriously.
The justifications from AIMPLB vary: from the number of Muslims practising to be very low; the Muslim personal law can’t be amended; the issue is raked up by the right wing only to demoralise Muslims.
The stand of the AIMPLB is not only projected as anti-women but also a challenge to the government and the Supreme Court.
The present government is trying to reform the personal laws. This is seen with suspicion in the wake of the beef laws, which have falsely hounded Muslims for the possession of beef, harassed and, in some extreme cases, killed. These incidents have left a big question mark on the intentions of the government, which many claim is using the TT issue to further its anti-Muslim hatred and to eventually implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), which is widely seen as a majoritarian law.
In this whole episode, the Muslim women are the ultimate victims. She is caught between the unrelenting AIMPLB and the supposedly agenda-driven government. The woman has nowhere to go and her voice will be further gagged. Many Muslim and non-Muslims men are commenting relentlessly, trying to reinforce their narrative, which has little or no space for the Muslim women. Many People from all groups are trying use the issue to further their ulterior motives; trying to be the voice, while in fact curbing the real voice of the Muslim women.
We hope the educated and empowered Muslim women would take an initiative to speak out fearlessly and change the narrative to help their sisters. While some men have openly supported the scraping of the instant TT, the others are busy giving justifications for not letting it go.
The sudden interest of the present government may be new but the bigger question is: Why hasn’t anything been done about the TT issue in all these years? Why were no efforts made to reform the laws? Why were no efforts made to hear the voices of women and of educated Muslims who wanted to have a say in the way the laws were made and implemented?
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) must answer these questions.
Dr. Kouser Fathima is a Bangalore-based dentist who writes on issues concerning women, especially Muslim women. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @drkf_18
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