Thursday, August 29, 2019

Triple Talaq Criminalised: When The Civil Society Fails To Root out Social Injustice To The Weaker Section, God Intervenes By Paving Ways For Laws Against It

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
08 August 2019
There is a lot of hue and cry over the Triple Talaq Prevention Bill passed by the BJP government. Muslim religious scholars and bodies call this an interference in the religious affairs of the Muslims. The government argues that the Triple Talaq is an injustice to Muslim women and so it has brought the Bill which has a provision of three years of imprisonment for the husband while the Muslim religious bodies hold that the Triple Talaq is approved by hadiths and Imams of Muslims. For a long time, feminist organisations of Muslims had been campaigning against Triple Talaq or instant Talaq. During recent years, some divorced women; victims of the practice of instant Talaq had moved courts of law pushing the government to bring the law on Triple Talaq.
Many Islamic scholars had already been campaigning against Triple Talaq with references from the Quran and also with references from the life of the holy prophet pbuh and the Sahaba. But the religious seminaries were adamant on their stand that the Triple Talaq had sanction from some imams and other religious scholars of the past. They present even some hadith in favour of their argument.
The Triple Talaq had been misused by illiterate men who were not aware of the rules of Talaq mentioned in the Q  uran. They only knew that their imams and muftis told that instant Triple Talaq was valid and permissible and so they divorced their wives at any pretext. In most of the cases, the husbands did not have justification for their action. Still, the muftis would tell them that since they spoke the word Talaq three times, the Talaq was valid and if they wanted to get their wife back they must go through halala. Therefore, the evil practice of halala was an offshoot of instant Triple Talaq. These two evils ruined the lives of millions of Muslim women. Statistics show that the incidence of divorce among Muslim women is twice the national average.
Unfortunately, even before the passing of the Bill, the religious scholars associated with Islamic seminaries did not show any change in their attitude and were not ready to bring reformation in Talaq laws. They were adamant on the validity of instant Talaq. This gave the government the scope to bring legislation on Triple Talaq. The holy companions showed flexibility in approach while dealing with the incidents of Talaq. The second caliph Hadhrat Umar had changed the law of divorce according to the contingency of the period to save married women from harassment. During the present period, when the instant Talaq is being misused rampantly ruining homes and lives of Muslim women, the ulema of the present day would also have done well to bring reforms by banning instant Triple Talaq. The Quran cleanly says: At-Talaqo Marratan (Talaq is for two times). (Al Baqarah: 229)
It means the husband will give Talaq twice at the prescribe periods and after Talaq on two separate occasions, the husband and wife should sit together and decide whether they still want to separate or get back. If they decide to reconcile, they should make amends and if they decide to get separated, they should do so with kindness. Here are the verses:
A divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold Together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness. (Al Baqarah:229)
But if their intention is firm for divorce, Allah heareth and knoweth all things.(Al Baqarah:227)
O Prophet! When ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately), their prescribed periods: (Al Talaq: 1)
The Quran at no occasion mentions Talaq thrice at one go. It advises both the husband and wife to make certain reconciliatory steps before making any decision. But here the conservative ulema have given the husband the tool of instant Talaq to illiterate and uneducated men to rampantly misuse it at the slightest pretext. And they present various flimsy arguments to justify the act. One argument is that killing a person with a sword is illegal and impermissible, but if a person kills his wife with a sword, he cannot say that he did not want to kill his wife, and the wife will not come alive because of his saying so. Similarly, if a man gives three Talaqs to his wife, the Talaq has occurred even if this form of Talaq is unwanted. But they ulema ignore the fact that killing the wife and divorcing the wife are not similar incidents. After a divorce, the wife is alive and can be taken back. The counter argument against their argument is that when a man is fasting and he eats to the full stomach by mistake, the mufti tells him that since he did not eat consciously or intentionally, his fast has not broken though the purpose of fasting is to remain hungry. Here, he is considered fasting though his stomach is full because it was not his intention to eat. But in the case of divorce, the mufti says that since he spoke out Talaq three times, the Talaq has occurred though the husband insists that he did not have the intention to divorce his wife.
The Quran clearly says that the husband should have firm intention for divorcing her wife: In Azamut Talaqa (But if their intention is firm for divorce). It means the divorce will not occur if the husband does not have firm intention. And one cannot have firm intention in a fit of anger, under the spell of wine, ganja or bhang or during severe illness. But the method of Talaq approved by our ulema and mufti are in violation of the enjoinment of the Quran. The ulema refused to see reason and did not show any change in approach to Talaq in the prevalent circumstances among the Muslim community.
Since it is the firm belief of the Muslims that all the political and social events on Earth are decreed by God, (Yudabbirul Amr) the passing of Triple Talaq Prevention Bill can also be regarded as God’s intervention as the Muslim civil society failed to take necessary steps to stop the misuse of triple Talaq. It is not the first time God has intervened to save the weaker sections of the society from the social injustice perpetrated to the female species by male chauvinism.
The evil practice of female feticide went on for decades leading to the killing of millions of girl children in mothers’ womb. Statisticians say that about 63 million women are missing and about 2 million babies go missing every year due to female feticide, malnutrition and other forms of discrimination against girls. In 1970, the government had passed bill allowing abortion in certain circumstances. This Act was rampantly misused to kill female foetuses leading to the killing of millions of girl children. When the civil society did not take steps to stop this evil and did not work to bring social reform to change the mindset of people, God had to intervene by paving the way for a law to make female feticide illegal. This stopped female feticide to a great extent thought the evil could not be rooted out completely.
Another instance of God’s intervention was the Prevention of Cruelty to women Act in 1983. Before that the practice of torture and killing of brides was rampant and millions of brides were killed due to this inhuman practice. The civil society could not stop this evil practice too and so finally God had to intervene by paving the way for the passing of the Prevention of Cruelty Act (498).
God loves all its creation. He even loves small insects as much as He loves human beings. So when He sees that men are doing grave injustice to the girls or women and the civil society is not doing anything to root out this injustice on its own, He paves the way for legislations and for that he brings those people in power who are instrumental in bringing such legislation. It is also a form of punishment to those responsible for ignoring the injustice and evil practices.
Now these so-called Muslim intellectuals have started saying that they have no objection to the law but the laws have wrong provisions. They should know that the law passed by the government is not of any Islamic country. So they should not blame the government of an un-Islamic country to bring a fool-proof legislation on Triple Talaq. If they did not want any interference from an un-Islamic government in their Personal Laws, they should have woken up and acted before the government acted.
At least, with the passing of this Bill, the shops of mullahs running Halala business will be closed and women will be saved from going through the indignity of Halala and blackmailing in the name of Triple Talaq.
S. Arshad is a regular columnist for

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