AIR spotlight summary on “Emerging issues over Triple Talaq”.
Historical Evolution of Talaq
- Marriage is a contract among Muslims and there is a way to terminate it. That is called triple Talaq. If we look at the historical evolution of Talaq it was one of the earliest religious establishments which made provision for divorce. According to Islamic jurisprudence a Talaq has to be a two way process. Man can pronounce Talaq on women and vice versa women can also seek Talaq on a man.
- During the time of Prophet Mohammed Talaq was given in a staggered manner. If living together has become impossible then there is a provision to seek dissolution of marriage not in a manner which goes against women.
Provisions of Talaq
- The divorce process among Muslims, the general impression is that the word Talaq should be pronounced thrice at a time which leads to termination of marriage. This practice has been accepted for a very long time. Under Islamic provisions the Talaq should take place over a period of 3 months and pronounced at different points of time. In between the gap it should be utilised for reconciliation.
- The tradition of triple Talaq being pronounced at a time came to be accepted during the time of the second Caliph of Islam that is Under special circumstances he allowed pronouncement of triple Talaq at a time and accepted it as valid.
- Over a period of time it became part of the institution of Muslims in different parts of the world including in India. Everyone forgot the provision of staggered Talaq and accepted the Talaq being pronounced at one time. Today many women organisations are questioning the Talaq being pronounced thrice at one time.
Issues over Triple Talaq
- The ideal Islamic position is that it should have a gap in each time the pronouncement of Talaq takes place. This will go in favour of women and their rights. Pronouncement of Talaq thrice at a same time goes against the basic principle of justice. It is this the woman are challenging.
- The distinction between Talaq being pronounced at a time or being pronounced in gaps has to be brought to public knowledge.
- There are many conditions under which women can also seek Talaq. They can seek in case of impotency, domestic violence etc. The frequency of women seeking Talaq is not that great.
- The Islamic practices have to be seen in a specific context in India. Every Islamic practice is conditioned by historical experience. Therefore the kinds of sufferings most women go through, the Muslim women are not an exception.
The resistance by All India Muslim Personal Law Board
- They suspect that any tinkering with a new provision would eventually lead to more changes in the personal law. They think the personal law is necessarily a part of the sharia law. Whereas the personal law is not religiously evolved but historically evolved.
- They think that if they are able to prevent it now they will be able to sustain the hold of patriarchy for a long time.
- The Ulema section among Muslims is not able to accept social changes that have undergone. Lot of women are receiving modern education, become independent, seek employment, and seek justice and now beginning to read and interpret the scriptures on their own. Lot of women have started reading Quran and want to interpret the provisions made for inter personal relationships between man and women, property rights and other rights of women. It is this which makes them fearful and therefore to resist any such change.
- There is a virtual division within the society among Muslims and along the gender lines. If one was able to conduct a survey among Muslim women about accepting triple Talaq pronounced at a time, 99% of them would reject this provision.
- Lot of Muslim men in social media and other platforms have openly come out against triple Talaq being pronounced at a time. They say this is anti-women, gender discriminating and it sustains patriarchy. Therefore the time has changed to take another view that the men are also on the side of women who are seeking justice.
- There are many sects like Shia’s who do not practice triple Talaq and many within the Sunni community have come out openly against it.
The debate on Uniform Civil Code
- Many say that because of discriminatory practices the only solution is uniform civil code. The Indian society is not yet ready and no one knows what would be the blue print of uniform civil code. By bringing about changes in such practices we are empowering women especially Muslim women.
- Given the kind of diversity that India consists of, talking about Uniform Civil Code deals with questions like marriage, property, inter personal relations etc. Every religious group will have its own call and therefore it is not the right time for UCC and there should be debates for building the consensus.
Need of the Hour
- Muslim personal law board and members of Muslim middle class intelligentsia should come to a platform and debate among themselves what is provided in the Quran, what has been the practice in the life time of prophet Mohammed.
- There are lot of Islamic countries which have completely given upon this practice.
- The problem is that the Muslims are in a minority situation, there is existential fear, fear about loss of identity and culture. The people who claim to represent Muslims also play in the fear factor. This should be handled sensitively especially by the government so that they do not continue to suffer from any existential crisis and fear for their identity. Once they have this confidence lot many Muslims will themselves seek changes as it is happening in the present context.