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Triple Talaq Bill : The brazen interference in Personal Law

Muslim women protesting against Triple Talaq Bill (A file photo)

By Nasim Akhtar

As the bill on triple Talaq is slated to be placed in the Lok Sabha today it wouldn’t be out of place to mention some of the facts which have been largely misunderstood by the people who have been supportive of the bill all these days.

What pinches the Muslims of India is the brazen interference in their Personal Law, which is divine made, and hence no one has any authority to dabble in it in any form. This is the matter of faith for every Muslim. If there is anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable with it can verily walk away from the fold of Islam. The Quran says that there is no compulsion on anyone in Islam. But it can’t be that one would like to remain in Islam and distort it as per his/her whims and fancies.

Marriages and divorce are valid and recognized institutions in Islam. Both have their distinct sanctity, with reference to situations and circumstances.

Marriage is a contract in Islam and being so it is terminable like any other contract. But unfortunately the issue is being viewed with the glass of Indian culture, which treats marriage as an unbreakable bond and which continues even after death, ‘saat janam tak ka saath,’ an association to last for seven incarnations or rebirths. It is in the context of this practice that the divorce is treated by this section of the society as a curse and tyranny on women in Islam. In the absence of this ‘facility,’ called divorce, the people of this community not finding a way out of their matrimonial bond, prefer to get rid of their spouse by simply eliminating them, most often than not, by burning, poisoning or asphyxiating them. Or, torturing to the extent that the spouse hangs himself/herself.

Islam offers a way out, namely divorce, which is hassle free, dignified, logical, morally justifiable, giving both the partners equal opportunity to part ways amicably. In most cases, this happens in the presence of the people from both sides of the aggrieved. Usually it takes several rounds of meetings before reaching the climax of separation. Most often a reconcilation is reached and the matter of dispute is amicably resolved.

Contrary to the common belief, women, too, have the right claim divorce, in Islam. The only difference is that they have to make it through an appeal to the court of law giving the reason thereof. The reason may be as trivial as that she has simply lost interest in her man. And, this is regarded as quite a valid reason, enough to annul the marital relationship. However, the axe of separation doesn’t fall suddenly. It has to go through a process of reconcilation involving several stages, which the Shariah court advises, and in most cases, supervises.

To some people the solution offered by Islam seems to be high handedness of on women. Such thoughts are natural in a society where women’s remarriage is an impossibility. In a community where remarriage is not a taboo, where they aren’t treated as pariahs of the society, divorce is a dignified way of starting a marital life all over again. Interestingly, women going for a remarriage are allowed to negotiate their own will and wish in the choice of their spouse.

Now the question remains that whether ‘instant triple talaq’ which is the case in point, is going to create any problem for Muslim women. I would say, no, it isn’t. On the contrary, it would make their path of separation more easy, comfortable, hassle free and dignified.

Before I explain on it, let me apprise you of a few things which are closely related to the issue. Divorce, in Islam, is to be exercised following the method prescribed by Quran, which is to be done in three intervals, each spanning approximately a month. The intervening period gives enough space for the spouses to rethink and resolve. Qoran also suggests to appoint arbitrators from both sides of the families to help negotiate an amicable settlement. After the exhausting all the three pronouncements and the efforts made in between, comes the final seal of breakage of the contact. Any step taken in haste, that is to say, pronouncement of three talaqs all at once, or instantaneously, is an act despised by Shariah. It is so because, there was no space given in between for a rethink and improvement in the relationship. But, by no means this act is invalidated or rendered null and void. The person has erred grievously in exercising the provision for which he will attract punishment, however the divorce will be effective. The woman must not remain in his nuptial knot. She has to walk out of his life with dignity. She shouldn’t be nagging on him to stay with him any longer. Any insistence to make her cohabit with him is infra-dig to her dignity, which Islam doesn’t allow in any case.

Looking at the issue from the angle of suffering and torture of a woman at the hands of an uncaring husband, the instantaneous talaq would rather seem better. The sooner the better, out of the living hell. Moreover, the errant husband’s punishment serves as a deterrent for the society.

If the proposed bill is passed, the woman would be living with her already estranged partner, which would be all the more traumatizing for her, a perpetual source of torture. Though he would be languishing behind the bars, a thought would keep pinching her that she is staying at a place she is unwanted and unwelcome. Having served the term, when comes back, she would be faced with the same horrible situations, as measures of law courts do not serve as palliative to the ills of the society. They will tend to persist. Whereas, separations, most often, lead to remorse, self retrospection, and atonement through the purgatory of penance of having to take care of the children begotten by another woman.

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