By Syed Ubaidur Rahman
All Indian Muslim Personal law Board (AIMPB), in its reply to Supreme Court, has said that triple talaq in a single sitting is not just Islamic, it has been sanctioned by Qur’an and hadith.
While serious discussions have been held on the issue in different parts of the world and this has been well-documented, the AIMPLB is not ready to take a cue from development in different places, including in many parts of the Arab world. The Board, whose proceedings look opaque and whose stands on many issues seem arbitrary and illogical, has failed to realize that its opaque reading of the Islamic jurisprudence will be counter-productive and give ammunition to anti-Islamic forces to target the religion and the personal law.
Read the entire Qur’an and you wouldn’t find a mention of triple talaq, a mindless action on the part of the husband. Triple talaq is mostly uttered by people in extreme rage, when the person loses the capability to take a sane decision. To give it a legal teeth to such mindless decisions, is simply illogical, besides being anti-Islamic.
Wherever Qur’an talks of talaq, or divorce, it mentions a rather long mechanism and doesn’t give total control over it to husband. It doesn’t allow the husband to take the decision on his whims and destroy the family that he and his wife and others in the larger family had built over the years.
While Muslim Personal Law Board said that triple talaq is sanctioned by Qur’an and hadith, but read the entire Qur’ana and you would never come across anything justifying as senseless act as triple talaq in a single sitting. In Surah Talaq, Qur’an mentions how the mechanism of talaq works. Qur’an clearly talks about the talaq being a long process with fixed period and forbids wife to leave the house in the entire period to allow the couple to reconcile and take decision. In the same surah, Quran says at the end of the period the couple needs to decide if they want to live together or separate permanently.
At another place, Qur’an talks about the divorce being twice and then the couple should take decision if they have to live together. If they decide to separate, it orders them to separate amicably and not allow the husband to usurp the lawful rights that a woman has in such circumstances.
At another place, Qur’an asks the family members to arbiter if the differences between husband and wife have become irreconcilable.
At nowhere, Qur’an allows the mindless act of triple talaq in a single sitting. On the contrary, there are clear evidence from the life of the Prophet, when he asked Abdullah bin Abbas to take back his wife, whom he had divorced in a way that was not proper.
“A divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold Together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness.It is not lawful for you, (Men), to take back any of your gifts (from your wives), except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah.If ye (judges) do indeed fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah, there is no blame on either of them if she give something for her freedom.These are the limits ordained by Allah.so do not transgress them if any do transgress the limits ordained by Allah, such persons wrong (Themselves as well as others)”. (Surah Al-Baqara, 229)
The Muslim Personal Law Board’s stand is arbitrary and illogical not just regarding triple talaq in a single sitting, but also when it comes to the compensation at the time of talaq. When a wife of decades is divorced at the spur of the moment, they claim that husband will give only Mehr (bride money) to her committed at the time of marriage. In Shah Bano case, we saw that the old woman was given a paltry Rs 3000 by her husband more than three decades after the marriage and thrown out of the house. Qur’an, nowhere explicitly or implicitly denies that woman will not be paid anything at the time of divorce.
On the contrary, Qur’an at one place asks the people who have been forced by circumstances to separate to pay to the wife who is being divorced. Qur’an goes on to add that the money paid will depend on the financial condition of the husband.
“There is no blame on you if ye divorce women before consummation or the fixation of their dower; but bestow on them (A suitable gift), the wealthy according to his means, and the poor according to his means;- A gift of a reasonable amount is due from those who wish to do the right thing.” (Surah Al-Baqara, 236)
In the given circumstances, Personal Law Board would have done well to come up with correct reading of the Qur’an and shariah and not bogged down by what it has been following without any Qur’anic sanction.