Is talaq ruling a precursor to common code?
By Dr. George Jacob
Kochi: Triple Talaq, also known as talaq-e-mughallazah, or irrevocable divorce is a form of Islamic divorce that was being practiced by Indian Muslim men.
It allowed any Muslim man to divorce his wife by repeating the word talaq (Arabic for divorce) three times in verbal, written, or in these ‘modern times’, by electronic means through email, or through the social medial such as WhastsApp!
This abominable practice through which Muslim men Got away with and indulged in whatever they wanted to, at the expense of helpless women they call ‘wives’, has been going on unchecked, such that it gained a great degree of legality within the Muslim community, and also within India, extra constitutionally.
Sex-avaricious nonagenarian and octogenarian men from the Persian Gulf nations form beelines in various pockets in India in search of ‘brides’, young enough, or even younger than their granddaughters back home, to purchase them as their ‘wives’. Economically deprived parents of these hapless young girls had no second thoughts to sell them, falling to the lure of big money offered by these old men.
These old grooms, well past ‘expiry date’, after having spent their seemingly exaggerated carnal ‘drive’ on the young brides ditch them conveniently through triple talaq and leave for their home countries, wrecking the lives of many a Muslim girl, most of them conferred motherhood, thanks to the old men’s ‘deeds’.
This is not strictly limited to men from abroad. Muslim men in India too have been resorting to triple talaq conveniently to throw away their wives, most of them uneducated, unemployed and impoverished women in the hinterland of India in the name of insufficient dowry, cooked up charges of adultery and allegations of noncompliance to sharia laws.
These men proceed to marry soon, only to repeat the cycle, leaving behind a hoard of women divorcees(without even caring to provide them with alimony to help them in their struggle to move on with their lives), who are left to fend for themselves and their children.
The outrageous practice of triple talaq continued to have a free run in India, and stayed deep-rooted within the nation due to various reasons:
the ‘secular’ (read pseudosecular) policy that was followed religiously by successive Congress governments in New Delhi, which governed India for a good part of her post-independence history, with their eyes solely and shortsightedly fixed on the large Muslim vote bank, especially of those in the Indian cow belt
Muslim men taking umbrage under Sharia laws, which is a set of laws which formed a parallel ‘constitution’ for Muslims, presiding over customs like marriage, divorce, inheritance, and many more.
Even the holy book of Quran was quoted from and conveniently misrepresented to justify triple talaq, and the dictates of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which formed an influential group consisting of mullahs, religious ‘scholars’ and elders belonging to the Muslim community which defended triple talaq as a matter of faith and an equivocal right of every devout Muslim man, taking umbrage under ‘right to religious freedom’, and that courts had no authority, moral and constitutional, over matters of ‘faith’.
The AIMPLB repeatedly requested the courts to leave Muslims alone to chart their own course within the nation, which was conveniently turned a blind eye to, for obvious reasons by governments in power.
What remains indiscernible and queer is the fact that the practice of talaq-ul-bidat, that was being practiced in Muslim nations like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and many others was quashed longtime back in India. Muslim men her persisted with the retrograde and outrageous practice that had India’s 90 million Muslim women exist in perpetual fear of an abrupt suspension of marriage by utterance of just three words. It left them to live in penury, insecurity, and threat to life and violation of honor, both physically and emotionally.
Muslim men, on the other hand, go on to marry another woman to satiate their appetite for physical companionship and relationship, which, to the rest of India seemed a great injustice to Muslim women.
Is talaq justified by the Quran?
According to Zakia Soman of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, which has being opposing triple talaq in the Supreme Court maintains, ‘as far as the holy Quran is concerned, there is no mention of triple talaq’.
Many Muslim women who had been at the receiving end of the threat and execution of triple talaq knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court to ban the outrageous practice.
A survey by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan revealed that 95 percent divorced women received no alimony from their husbands, leaving the hapless women in no position to take on the roll of a breadwinner and raise children. A recent incident where a pregnant woman was thrown out of the house for refusing abortion added teeth to those who opposed triple talaq in court.
On August 23, the Supreme Court ruled Triple talaq as arbitrary and unconstitutional. It was struck down as being against the tenets of Islam by a five all-male bench, and rightly so.
Was the practice of triple talaq truly detrimental to national existence?
It indeed was, on many counts.
• Triple talaq meted out great injustice and disadvantage to Indian Muslim women, allowing Muslim men to have a free and liberal run at the expanse of the former which was nothing short of grave injustice and chauvinism at its height.
• Triple talaq ate into the health of plurality for which India has been famous for, and which has been gelling the nation together, despite the existence of numerous faiths within her.
• Triple talaq rendered Indian constitution irrelevant and redundant, and a mere onlooker, with individual religions deciding to call their shots, deeming it their right to, based on their own compulsions.
• Practices like triple talaq confers a certain degree of credibility and credence to the dictates of extra constitutional bodies like the AIMPLB in case of Muslims, various dioceses in case of Christians and Dewaswam Boards in case of Hindus.
Adding 1 and 1, together, there is a definite and tenable requirement of a UCC, to which every right thinking Indian hopes that abolition of triple talaq will serve as a fore bearer.
India, which is home to a large number of religions have had them pulling in different directions, with no uniformity in matters relating to marriage, its annulment, inheritance and numerous other practices and requirements that are involved in day-to-day living. Each religion followed its practice dictated by self-styled religious scholars, scripture and practices inherited by virtue of customs that were blindly being followed by older generations.
The Indian Constitution was, in the process rendered a mere bystander. This threatened to wreak the very foundation of national unity, plurality and uniformity for every citizen, irrespective of religion. Vote-hungry politicians, out to garner votes of minorities, and the majority, recently, only added to the morass. All that mattered to them was the seat of power.
Every Indian ought to have a single set of tenet, which is in congruence with the Indian constitution, to which he/she shall adhere to, and which shall be baptized- Uniform Civil Code. Religion ought to be, and must remain a private affair of the citizen, or his/her way of life, and a guiding principle, and never a competition to the constitution, which remains sacrosanct and vital for the very existence of Indian nationhood.
Every person living in this nation ideally ought to be an Indian first, a Christian, Jain, Zoroastrian, Hindu or Muslim, a distant second.