Twisted Tale of Triple Talaq: Is There a Progressive Way Forward?
The three words that can change a life forever are not, “I Love You”, anymore. The gravity of any three pronounced word can be judged by the ongoing discussion of a religion. “I divorce you” three times, and all is over for a woman, and surely many options are opened up for a man.
Though Islam has prescribed the process of a woman seeking divorce from a man –known as Khula – this goes by a qazi under certain circumstances. The three words have so much power, in terms of support from all the existing sects of Islam.
The Quran says in Sura 65 (At-Talaq):
O Prophet! When ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods and count (accurately) their prescribed periods: And fear Allah your Lord: and turn them not out of their houses, nor shall they (themselves) leave, except in case they are guilty of some open lewdness, those are limits set by Allah: and any who transgresses the limits of Allah, does verily wrong his (own) soul: thou knowest not if perchance Allah will bring about thereafter some new situation.
Sunnis and Shias have few different ways to handle the triple talaq matter. Sunnis can say talaq to their wives before telling anyone, but Shias have to publicly announce the beginning of the divorce process.
The man is not necessarily asked to say any particular words thrice to get talaq, there are two ways in which this works – Talaq-Sirri and Talaq-Kinaya.
Talaq-Sirri is a clear declaration of particular words – ‘I divorce you’ – while Talaq-Kinaya gives space to unclear or indirect words to express the will to announce the man’s intentions – ‘you are void’, ‘you are a free woman’ and ‘you are cut off’.
There is a waiting period in talaq or a window for reconciliation according to the Quran. In Sura 4 of Quran, the way to reconcile is defined clearly and advised:
If the couple breaks the waiting period by engaging in sexual intercourse, the divorce becomes void.
The Quran says clearly in Sura 33:
The Quran also has clear instructions for the woman, who serves the waiting period. It says in Sura 65:
What is debatable is the way Islam carries the rights of the woman. Feminism at its best can’t address the vulnerability of this faith-exploiting practice. In homes, the sore relations have faced the psychological pressures of these three words, every time.
Like Simone de Beauvoir writes in her iconic book, ‘The Second Sex’: “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”
Triple talaq may be a contentious issue for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and they want to boycott the Law Commission Questionnaire on religious practices detrimental to women.
But it looks like the government wants to act on the mood of the nation.
The discussion is surely diverted by the statements and not by the real sentiments of the other half of the Muslim population. We must ask Muslim women what they think about it and how they can address this peculiar issue.
It’s time we dare to ask why we must trust a follower blindly, when he is susceptible to the pressures of the material world.
In another age when life was simple and people followed an ideal holistically, any written word could become gospel. Islam as a religion has immense possibilities to support basic human values, at least that much is written clearly in the book.
(The writer is a former TV journalist and member, International Association of Religion. He can be reached at @MeBhavya. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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