By Syed Ubaidur Rahman
The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has told the Supreme Court that Triple Talaq in a single sitting is not just Islamic but it has been sanctioned by the Quran and Hadith.
While serious discussions have been held on the issue around the world and these are well-documented, the AIMPLB is not ready to take a cue from developments, including in the Arab world. The Board, whose stand on many issues seems arbitrary and illogical, has failed to realise that its opaque reading of Islamic jurisprudence will be counter-productive and give ammunition to anti-Islamic forces to target Islam and Muslim personal law.
Read the entire Quran 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 is illogical and anti-Islamic.
Wherever Quran talks of talaq or divorce, it mentions a rather long mechanism and doesn’t give total control over it to the husband. It does not allow the husband to take the decision on his whims and destroy a family he and his wife and the larger family had built over the years.
While the AIMPLB said Triple Talaq is sanctioned by Quran and Hadith, this is not so.
In Surah Talaq, Quran mentions how the mechanism of divorce works. Quran talks about talaq being a long process with fixed period and forbids the wife to leave the house in the entire period to allow the couple to reconcile. In the same surah, Quran says that at the end of the period the couple needs to decide if they want to live together or separate.
At another place, Quran talks about the divorce being twice and then the couple should decide 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 a woman has in such circumstances.
At another place, Quran asks the family to arbiter if the differences between husband and wife have become irreconcilable.
Quran nowhere allows the mindless act of Triple Talaq in a single sitting. On the contrary, there are clear evidences from the life of the Prophet, when he asked Abdullah bin Abbas, an aide, to take back his wife, whom he had divorced in a way that was not proper.
Quran says: “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, 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 gives something for her freedom. These are the limits ordained by Allah. So do not transgress them, if any does transgress the limits ordained by Allah, such persons wrong (themselves as well as others).”
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 the husband will give only Mehr (bride money) to her committed at the time of marriage. In the Shah Bano case, the elderly woman was given a paltry Rs 3,000 by her husband — more than three decades after the marriage and thrown out of the house.
Quran asks people who have been forced by circumstances to separate to pay to the wife who is being divorced. It adds the money paid will depend on the financial condition of the husband.
In the given circumstances, the Personal Law Board would have done well to come up with a correct reading of the Quran and shariah and not be bogged down by what it has been following without any Quranic sanction.
(Syed Ubaidur Rahman is New Delhi based author and commentator. The views expressed are personal.)