Talaq Over WhatsApp: A Ridiculous Idea Say Some, Okay Say Others
Muslim brides wait for the start of a mass marriage ceremony in Ahmedabad. (Photo: Reuters)
Muslim brides wait for the start of a mass marriage ceremony in Ahmedabad. (Photo: Reuters)

Talaq Over WhatsApp: A Ridiculous Idea Say Some, Okay Say Others

The trouble with instant messaging is that some use it as a legitimate mode of communication to deliver difficult messages; many people have been known to send breakup messages over Facebook, WhatsApp and whatchamacallit.

But ending a marriage, merely by typing out talaq thrice – as in the case of the NRI man from Kerala who delivered his intentions to divorce his wife on WhatsApp from Dubai, just four weeks into their marriage – is perhaps the most perverse and unreasonable of all. The man, as it seems from the text he sent, perhaps needed a fruit basket more than a marriage.

Why are you calling me? I do not like you. Do not wait for me. If we like apple, will we keep eating it every day? We will like to eat other fruits also. Talak Talak Talak

The case trended on Facebook last night, with many incensed at the sheer absurdity of it.

But the WhatsApp talaq has also initiated a raging debate between Islamic scholars and conservatives about the validity of such a talaq, where one party has the unilateral power to divorce without bringing the legitimate legal forces into play. Sadly, this digital communique has been accorded a high degree of seriousness by Islamic leaders.

Talaq Her, I Say

Muslim women pray at the Jama Masjid in old Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)
Muslim women pray at the Jama Masjid in old Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)

When we asked Kamal Faruqui, the self-proclaimed media face of the Muslim community, chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission and member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), his response seemed to suggest there was little wrong in pursuing such a means for talaq.

Talaq has to be done through a means of communication. And as long as it is done in writing, whether it is on a piece of paper or on WhatsApp, it is valid.
— Kamal Faruqui

The Assistant General Secretary of the AIMPLB, Abdul Rahim Qureshi, too says that as long as the husband has made it clear he wants to end the marriage, the Whatsapp message can be taken as legitimate.

If the husband has made it clear that he wants to separate from his wife, then the WhatsApp text is justified.
— Abdul Rahim Qureshi

 A Muslim woman in old Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)
A Muslim woman in old Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)

Dr Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Women’s Association, who is doing yeoman’s work for Muslim women, is livid at the sheer convenience of it all for the Muslim man.

“If talaaq is going the digital way, let nikahs be digital too,” Dr Niaz says rhetorically.

Whenever the husband and wife are getting a divorce, there is arbitration between two parties, the wife’s financial rights are spoken about and discussed – that is a just way of ending a marriage and that is how it has been described in the Sharia law. But the Muftis and Maulanas and the all-orthodox All India Muslim Law Board have made a joke of talaq, and all are giving air to this absurdity. In my opinion, this practice should be declared illegal.
— Dr Noorjehan Safia Niaz

Incidentally, triple talaq delivered at one go is banned in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Iran and Indonesia.

In India, a codified Koranic justice law that covers matters of marriage and divorce procedures is the need of the hour for the helpless Muslim woman, although it is most likely to be opposed by the Muslim Law Board.

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