Recently, around 50,000 Muslim women and men signed a petition calling for ban on triple talaq. Leading the movement is Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA); the group has asked National Commission for Women (NCW) to come forward and bring an end to this practice which they say is against the laws enshrined in the Holy Quran. Zakia Soman, a co-founder of BMMA, has been at the forefront of a nationwide signature campaign that has covered 13 states till now. Zakia expects to get more such signatures in the forthcoming days in support of the movement to abolish the practice of ‘triple talaq’.
Communication with authorities
Zakia has also written to Dr Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Chairperson of NCW, to rope in support for this demand which Muslim women have been making for a long time now. As per a recent study conducted by BMMA, 92% Muslim women are in favour of ending the system of triple talaq. These days, this unilateral form of divorce is being given through media such as phone calls, e-mails and text messages. This has left women at the receiving end in a hapless position more so as they are unable to do anything about it.
A Muslim man can divorce his wife by pronouncing the word ‘talaq’ clearly three times in a row for the talaq (divorce) to be finalized. In case the husband does not do so, or utters the word in a muddled and unclear manner it is essential that he clearly mentions that he wishes to end the marriage. When done clearly it is called express talaq. After that, the husband and wife cannot get back together until the wife marries someone else.
The Nikah halala is another practice equivalent to the system of triple talaq that has affected Muslim women over the years. In this, a lady needs to marry another man, consummate their relationship and then marry her husband again. Women do not get any form of alimony or maintenance whatsoever and have to take care of themselves as well as their children, in case there are any.
Angst of women
Sadiya Vaquas from Bhopal says that these days there is rampant usage of triple talaq as men have been using means such as text messages and Facebook in order to divorce women. She has stated quite clearly that men do not have the legal rights to do so and expressed her angst over the fact that even the qazis are supporting the men instead of women. As stated by Noorjehan Safia Niaz, a member of BMMA, on certain occasions the religious leaders have themselves offered to become the temporary husband. A few days back the Supreme Court took in a petition from Shayara Bano from Dehradun to bring an end to the said practice.
BMMA has asked for measures such as mediation and reconciliation where the process of divorce has gone on for 90 days and more. Its petition states that Muslim women are Indian citizens too and as such the constitutional safeguards should be applicable to them as well. It has called for amendments to the Muslim personal law in such a way that every divisive practice can be declared illegal and the Quranic and constitutional rights of Muslim women can be assured to them.
Muslim divorce laws in India
There are two kinds of divorce as per Muslim law – extrajudicial divorce and judicial divorce. There are three kinds of extrajudicial divorce as per Muslim laws – ones given by the husband, ones given by the wife and ones agreed to through mutual agreement. The ones given by husbands are called talaq, zihar and ila; those by mutual agreement are mubarat and khula and the divorce given by the wife is called lian and talaq-i-tafweez. The wife gets her rights to divorce from Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939. The word talaq itself means dismissal, letting loose, setting free and doing away with any ties or restraint. As per Muslim law, this word signifies freedom only from the ties of marriage and from a legal sense it implies that the marriage has been dissolved by using words that are meant to be used for the said purpose.
In general Islamic law a husband who is of sound mind and has at least attained puberty can exercise the right to divorce. Free consent is also necessary in these cases. As far as Sunnis are concerned talaq does not require any formalities but Shias state that talaq has to be given orally. The only exception can be made when the husband is unable to speak and even in that case it needs to be given in writing.
There are two categories of express talaq – talaq-i-sunnat and talaq-i-biddat. There are two forms of talaq-i-sunnat – talaq-i-hasan, which is less approved, and talaq-i-ahsan, which is most approved. According to Islamic laws talaq-i-sunnat is in agreement with the decrees of Prophet Muhammad.