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Triple Talaq in India – Why Muslim Religious Leaders Are Wrong

By Kaleem Kawaja

The triple talaq that allows a man to divorce his wife, even if he is married to her for a long time, is a monstrous wrong. It is wrong from every angle whether religious or social or political. The basic sources of Islam, Quran and Hadith, do not permit it and condemn it. Sharia the ancient Islamic law does not permit it. It is prohibited in almost all Muslim countries barring a handful of reactionary countries like Afghanistan.

Triple talaq originated with some tribes in Arabia whose societies were very oppressive of women from before the dawn of Islam. Thus it found its way to the Muslim community in British ruled India couple of hundred years ago. As the British-Indian government was framing the Muslim Personal Law, they asked some Muslim religious leaders to help. And those super-conservative clerics whose origins were from some tribes in Afghanistan put in this triple talaq scourge in the Muslim Personal Law.

As India god divided and Pakistan and Bangladesh were born, gradually those Muslim majority countries reviewed the British origin Personal Laws in the light of Quran and Hadith. They found the triple talaq law very offensive and unjust towards women and deleted it. Most Arab countries and other Muslim countries have also deleted triple talaq from their laws in the last 100 years. India, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia are the only countries where triple talaq is stillvalid.

Over the years many organizations of Muslim women in India have launched campaigns against triple talaq and have pleaded with the Muslim Personal law Board to discard this oppressive law. But the Board has adamantly refused and is making it an “islam in danger” issue.

In fact they have given a hot issue to the enemies of Muslims, RSS, BJP etal to defame and degrade the entire Muslim community. Many BJP leaders exploited this issue in trying to make Muslim women vote for them in the recent election in UP. PM Modi is all the time exploiting the triple talaq issue in his speeches to degrade the Muslim community and is asking Muslim women to rebel against their families.

Still the leaders of the Muslim Personal Law Board, in violation of Quran, Hadith and the customs in most Muslim countries and simple human rights are insisting that triple talaq privilege of men to divorce their wives by just uttering the word talaq three times is a basic ingredient of Islam. The end result may be that the Muslim religious leaders and Ulema may completely loose all respect from the community for helping lend credit to the RSS, BJP folks whose goal is to degrade Muslims, as having spearheaded the abolition of the curse of triple talaq that helped so many Muslim women.

Unfortunately the maulanas and Muslim religious leaders are totally insensitive to all this and are becoming adamant and making it a life and death issue to retain the triple talaq, even though it is in clear violation of Quran and hadith, the basic sources of Islam.

(Kawaja is an Indian-American Muslim scientist based in Washington DC)

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