There is no denying the fact that women all across the world have consistently shattered stereotypes and emerged victorious in their chosen fields. Be it the world of business, technology or even politics, there is no dearth of examples to cite where women have excelled against all odds. It is therefore important that we must aim to create a ‘just society’, one that provides a level playing field for all women. But, religious preachers have decided to do just the opposite.
It is unfortunate that Muslim women in India are still fighting for their right to equality, which the Constitution of India guarantees to them. Triple Talaq, the ancient and regressive Islamic practice of Divorce, is still prevalent in India in 2017.
Sharia, a Muslim personal law, deprives Indian Muslim women their dignity and honor by imposing Triple Talaq, an inhumane practice in which Muslim men can end their marriage anytime by merely uttering the word Talaq thrice i.e. "Talaq Talaq Talaq". Muslim men, empowered by the maulvis (Islamic “scholars”) have become so privileged that they are even declaring Triple Talaq through Facebook, WhatsApp, by calling, text messaging, or just by sending an email.
One can only imagine the mental pain and agony associated with 'Triple Talaq' that Muslim women have to go through. Some recent stories of victims of Triple Talaq will disturb any sane individual. Recently a UP-based woman was given Triple Talaq because she offered to her parents, one of the two "namkeen" packets brought by her husband. The husband then beat up his wife, uttered ‘triple talaq thrice’ and kicked the woman and their 3-year old child out of the home.
It saddens me that in most of the cases Muslim women are not even informed about their fault before giving them Triple Talaq. Now, that’s quite contradictory to what happens in the rest of India, where a family court tries to give a patient hearing to a couple and then adjudicates on the matter. It begs the question- why do we have a parallel law in India that is superior to the wisdom of our learned courts?
Why is there a fuss now?
Triple Talaq isn't some arcane Islamic practice that was recently discovered. It has existed since for long, but shot into limelight in February 2016 when Shayara Bano, a victim of Triple Talaq, moved the Supreme Court seeking a ban on instantaneous Triple Talaq (Talaq-e-biddat), polygamy and halala (a practice in which a divorced Muslim woman has to marry to some other person, consummate the marriage and then break it in order to go back to her previous husband).
After Shayara Bano’s case came into light, thousands of victims of Triple Talaq spearheaded a campaign against it.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar is going to decide the validity of Triple Talaq. The hearing for this matter commenced on May 11, 2017.
Is Triple Talaq permitted in Quran?
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has told the honorable Supreme Court that instantaneous Talaq (Talaq-e-biddat) is not just Islamic but it has been permitted by the Quran. However, many Shia scholars from across the country have different views on it. They dispute the claim and insist that Shariat, made up of writings in the Quran and hadith, which are an account of prophet’s words and actions, does not allow Talaq at one go.
On the topic of Triple Talaq, it is important to understand the Shah Bano case of 1985. Shah Bano, a Triple Talaq victim, had filed for maintenance from her husband under Section 125 of the IPC. The SC delivered a verdict in Shah Bano's favour, but many Muslims criticized it and took to the streets against the verdict calling it an attack on their religion and their religious personal law. The then Rajiv Gandhi government pushed through The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, diluting, the SC judgement and restricting the rights of divorced Muslim women to require maintenance from their former husbands for only 90 days after the divorce i.e. the period of iddat. This act of appeasement politics by the Rajiv Gandhi government turned out to be disastrous for Indian Muslim women and is a reflection of the Congress government’s anti-women policies.
The BJP govt. meanwhile, has made its stand clear against the subject of Triple Talaq. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently appealed to the Muslim community to come together to abolish Triple Talaq. Prime Minister emphasized that this necessary change should come from within the community itself.
While the learned court takes its time to give a verdict on Triple Talaq, there are some important questions that arise:
· Why are the victims of Triple Talaq not getting enough support from within the Muslim society?
· Why is the Muslim community so reluctant to embrace this positive change of abolishing Triple Talaq?
· Over 20 countries have done away with Triple Talaq, already, then why can’t Indian Muslims end this, too?
· Marriages in Islam are a civil contract based on consent. Then, why is the decision to end this contract one sided?
· Why do Muslim women have no say in such a major decision of their lives?
While these questions might sound harsh but, truth be told, most of the Muslim laws are anti-women. Women in Islam are treated poorly and are bound to live under inhumane circumstances even today, thanks to Muslim men and their politics of power.
The policy of appeasement is so deep rooted that not even a single influential media person has written against Triple Talaq in a way that a matter of such importance should demand. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end here. Any opposition to Triple Talaq is often considered as attack on the Muslim faith, which is ironic, because the victims of Triple Talaq are Muslim, too. It's time that Muslim men realize that one cannot deny anyone their constitutional right in the name of religious personal laws.
The time has come when members of the Muslim community accept the flaws that exist in the draconian practice of Triple Talaq and end it once and for all. Let’s hope Muslim Women do get their rights and their misery ends soon.