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Talaq-E-Sunnah: Self-Centred Men Sailing Under False Colours

What is sinful under religion cannot be valid under the law, said Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohington Nariman and UU Lalit. This article throws light on the controversial Triple Talaq. It explains the base of Islam, what Islamic marriage is and how Triple Talaq is invalid according to Islam. It explores the types of divorces under Islam. The article reveals how cruel men misrepresent the religion for self-interest and take advantage of women's lack of knowledge. Hence, the topic of the discussion here is Talaq-e-Sunnah: self-centred men sailing under false colours.

Introduction:
Talaq! Talaq! Talaq!....
Listening to these three words, we all feel a rush of blood. We should! After all, it is something unconstitutional and illegal. But what some of us are unaware of is that the media had portrayed the issue under a very wrong context. Triple talaq denotes instant talaq just by uttering the word Talaq thrice. Besides the feminist concern, this has led to the anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the country. Well, it's surprising to know the fact that, there's no mention of such triple talaq in the Holy Qur'an. The lawful act of divorce in Islam is Talaq-e-Sunnah. So, the question arises, What is the relevance of triple Talaq in Islam?

But before moving on the triple talaq, it's vital to know how Islam works, what Islamic marriage is and what the Holy Qur'an prescribes.

Islam:

Islamic religion works in obedience to the Holy Qur'an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. The followers of Islam have to act according to the Hadith, which includes religious laws and moral guidance. They have to obey the Sunnah, i.e. the habitual practices of Prophet Muhammad. The followers of Islam are obligated to follow the Hadith and the Sunnah in their day to day lives, if any individual fails to do so, will be guilty in the sight of God. Any innovation in the teachings of the Holy Qur'an is forbidden and considered to be a sin. Such innovation is known as Bid'ah.

As stated in the Holy Qur'an:

We placed in the hearts of those who followed him [prophet] with compassion and mercy and monasticism, which they innovated; we did not prescribe it for them except [that they did so] seeking the approval of Allah. But they did not observe it with due observance. So, we gave the ones who believed among them their reward, but many of them are defiantly disobedient.1
It is essential to know what the Holy Quran says about marriage, before understanding what it states about the divorce.

Muslim marriage (Nikah):

A Muslim marriage is not a divine liturgy, but a contract laid down in a Nikahnama drawn between the husband and the wife.2 This contract obligates the groom to pay a fixed consideration during the Nikah. It's known as Meher or bride wealth. And the groom has no right to take it back from her unless she willingly gives it back, as it's considered an injustice to the bride and a sin in the Holy Qur'an.

As mentioned in the Holy Qur'an:

And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.3
But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?4

Triple talaq:

  • What is the triple talaq?

    Triple talaq denotes instant talaq. In Islamic terms, triple talaq is named as Talaq-e-Bid'ah. Under this divorce, the husband pronounces 'talaq' thrice in one sitting.5 The declaration of triple talaq by the husband can be oral, virtual or composed. The revocation of this divorce is not possible.
     
  • What does the Holy Qur'an say about triple talaq?

    When talking about what the Holy Qur'an says, it's surprising to know that there's no relevance of triple talaq in it. No verse in the Qur'an validates instantaneous triple Talaq.6 The name itself includes 'Bid' ah', demonstrating forbidden in Islam. It's considered undesirable and 'sinful' in Islam.7 And so, it is also banned in various other Muslim countries.

Talaq-e-Sunnah:

According to the Prophet's sayings, giving talaq to a wife in a fit of rage or anger is strictly prohibited.8 A talaq will become invalid in case the husband is intoxicated, is in extreme anger, has not said out of a free will or is abnormal and cannot differentiate between right and wrong.9 The Holy Qur'an advises the husband to settle the differences through a mutual conversation as the first step.10 If the disputes proceed between the couple, they should forgo any marital relations until they settle their conflict as the second step; the progression of physical partition recommended so that the couple reunites.

However, when this step fails, it's suggested that the husband must attempt to talk to the wife, make peace with her and talk about the gravity of the situation as the third step.11 If the third step falls flat, the Holy Qur'an prompts that the fourth step of 'mediation' must be followed where a member from each of the mates' family is present and try to sort things out. And if these steps fail, the couple can proceed for divorce through Talaq-e-Sunnah.

In Islam, there are two types of divorce given by the husbands as follows:

  1. Talaq-e-Ahsan:

    Talaq-e-Ahsan is the most proper type of divorce, according to Islam. In this form of divorce, the husband pronounces 'talaq' once when the woman is in the state of 'purity' and then the waiting period starts. This waiting period is known as Iddah. The iddah period in Talaq-e-Ahsan includes three menstrual cycles (four months), but if the woman is pregnant iddah period goes on until she conceives an offspring, whereas, the iddah for a woman after menopause is three months.

    During the iddah period, the woman cannot marry another man. The revocation of this divorce is possible before the Iddah period is over if, the husband resumes cohabitation with his wife.
     
  2. Talaq-e-Hasan:

    Talaq-e-Hasan is the proper type of divorce, according to Islam. In this form of divorce, a single pronouncement and then three successive pronouncements of 'talaq' are made, including the iddah of one month or one menstrual cycle between each pronouncement; for non-menstruating woman, the iddah for the pronouncement maybe a month between the successive pronouncements. The revocation of divorce is possible any time before the third announcement, by resuming the cohabitation.


As stated in the Holy Qur'an:
For those who swear not to have sexual relations with their wives, there is a waiting time of four months, but if they return [to normal relations] then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.12

And if they decide on divorce - then indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing13

Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it's not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this [period] if they want reconciliation. And due to the wives, it is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority].14

Divorce is twice. Then, either keep [her] in an acceptable manner or release [her] with good treatment. And it's not lawful for you to take anything of what you have given them unless both fear that they will not be able to keep [within] the limits of Allah. But if you fear that they will not keep [within] the limits of Allah, then there's no blame upon either of them concerning that by which she ransoms herself. These are the limits of Allah, so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah - it's those who are the wrongdoers.15

And if he has divorced her [for the third time], then she is not lawful to him afterwards until [after] she marries a husband other than him. And if the latter husband divorces her [or dies], there's no blame upon the woman and her former husband for returning to each other if they think that they can keep within the limits of Allah. These are the limits of Allah, which He makes clear to the people who know.16

Shayara Bano vs Union of India:

The Triple Talaq recently came into the limelight when Shayara Bano stood up for her justice. The Hon'ble Supreme Court passed a landmark judgement on the Shayara Bano case by a 5-judge bench on 22nd August 2017. The Supreme Court declared the practice of triple talaq unconstitutional as illegal, by the majority of 3:2.

Shayara Bano was married to Rizwan Ahmed for 15 years.17 In 2016, he divorced her through instantaneous triple talaq.18 She filed a writ petition asking to hold the practice of triple talaq as unconstitutional because it violates various rights of a woman. The petition got accepted, and then a very significant judgement in the history of India was passed making the Triple talaq unconstitutional.

Distortion of religion for self-interest:
For a long time, men have distorted the religion for self-interest. The morals and values have altered according to the man's desires. And so, women have been suffering from various malpractices under the name of religion. And to prevent the population from such malpractices, it's crucial to educate ourselves about all the religions, as men take advantage of women's lack of education.

Similarly, Triple talaq is one of the man's destructive models, which is nothing but abuse for women. Men used triple talaq as a weapon against innocent women to get rid of them sometimes for petty reasons, under the name of religion. The practice or prohibition of triple talaq has no concern with the Holy Qur'an or Islam.

Conclusion:
Triple Talaq has been a subject of controversy and debate for long. It was practised by Muslims in India before and is banned now. Nevertheless, very few people know what exactly it is.
The Holy Qur'an is a guideline for the followers of Islam. It has set in stones so, any change in it has forbidden. According to the Holy Qur'an, triple talaq or Talaq-e-Bid'ah is considered a sin in Islam. Acknowledging that, Talaq-e-Sunnah is the most sensible form of divorce as per it.

But, triple talaq was practised for self-gain by men, under the name of religion. And so, it is banned in India as well as in other Muslim countries. Hence, here I would like to conclude by saying, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well.19

End-Notes:

  1. The Holy Qur'an, 57:27.
  2. Ahona Sengupta, As parliament debates Triple Talaq, here's what Islam says about it, News 18, India, (June 21st, 2017, 1:08pm), https://www.news18.com/news/india/as-parliament-debates-triple-talaq-heres-what-islam-says-on-laws-of-divorce-2197341.html.
  3. The Holy Qur'an, 4:4.
  4. Id. at 4:20.
  5. Triple Talaq verdict, HT, India, (Aug 22nd, 2017, 5:50 pm), https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/triple-talaq-verdict-what-exactly-is-instant-divorce-practice-banned-by-court/story-mhQ1SbxnCUUgySQq82sdbJ.html
  6. Ismat Ara, What does Qur'an actually say about Triple Talaq?, FII, (Aug 23rd, 2017), https://feminisminindia.com/2017/08/23/Qur'an-triple-talaq/#:~:text=In%20Talaq%2De%2DHassan%2C,and%20the%20marriage%20is%20dissolved.&text=No%20verse%20in%20the%20Qur'an%20validates%20instantaneous%20triple%20Talaq.
  7. See supra note 5.
  8. Ahona Sengupta, supra note 2.
  9. Ismat Ara, supra note 6.
  10. Ahona Sengupta, supra note 2.
  11. Ahona Sengupta, supra note 2.
  12. The Holy Qur'an, 2:226
  13. Id. at 2:227
  14. Id. at 2:228
  15. Id. at 2:229
  16. Id. at 2:230
  17. Shayara Bano vs Union of India, (2016), WP (C) 118.
  18. Ibid.
  19. A. Vaidyanathan, Triple Talaq: 5 judges, 5 faiths, what they said, (Aug 22, 2017, 3:59pm), https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/5-supreme-court-judges-of-5-faiths-to-give-verdict-on-triple-talaq-1740329#:~:text=Three%20of%20them%2C%20Justices%20Kurian,cannot%20be%20valid%20under%20law.%22&text=Justice%20Kurien%20Joseph%20said%3A%20%22What,bad%20in%20law%20as%20well.%22

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