The best of you are those who are the kindest to their wives.
The Allahabad High Court has finally got the clock of judicial activism ticking by saying that triple talaq is unconstitutional. It was no surprise and the liberal strands in Muslims thought had already stood out clear. Indeed, one of the reasons triple talaq has remained legal so long is the fear, propounded by Muslim community leaders, that if the government is allowed to tamper with Islamic personal laws, it might one day scrap them completely, and the majority will swallow them up.
The truth is that the concept of instant triple talaq is alien to Islam .In fact, the Qur’an has specifically laid down a formula of a three-tiered calibrated divorce, keeping in mind human frailties. Divorce cannot be pronounced in a single sitting and must be preceded by efforts of arbitration, mediation, and reconciliation by mediators appointed by both the sides who must explore the possibility of reconciliation by resolving the issues without a compromise and impartiality so that dignity is restored to the aggrieved parties. It is a very exceptional remedy .frowned even by the Qur’an, and has to be taken recourse to only when all reconciliatory efforts fail.
The divorce process starts with a verbal divorce followed by a period of 4 months or three menstrual cycles during which the woman stays in her husband’s home. The Qur’an prescribes, among other things, a four-month waiting period for a woman under divorce notice (2:228), and commands a man who initiates the divorce to formally articulating his intention at least twice over the period (Q2:229), obviously in the presence of witnesses. The time-framing is reiterated in two other verses (Q2:231, Q65:2). If during this period or before the actual physical divorce, if they cohabit the divorce is off. The actual physical divorce means living separately as a divorced couple after the final pronouncement of the divorce at the end of the four month period. The number of times talaq” is said is immaterial. It must be said at least twice with a gap of 4 months as described above. The final pronouncement should preferably be in the presence of arbitrators if the arbitration has failed to make them change their minds. They can reunite and call the divorce off any time before the final separation takes place and they start living separately as a divorced couple. Once the physical divorce has taken place and they start living separately, they cannot reunite except through a fresh marriage which has conditions attached.
Divorce has to be pronounced before witnesses and over three sittings over a period of three months. These months are to allow the couple to reflect on their relationship and not come to a hasty conclusion. During this period, the woman is entitled to her right to residence and maintenance from the husband. In case there is cohabitation during this time, the divorce would be null and void.
Ironically, instantaneous triple talaq is banned in several Islamic countries around the world, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Many of these countries have also set up arbitration councils that try to help couples resolve their differences.
Muslim institutions must understand that Qur’anic ontology revolves around the principles of justice, fairness and equity, and therefore, any law that contravenes or abridges the rights arising out of these standards of ethics automatically becomes unacceptable. But the continued refusal of the Muslim patriarchy to see reason makes it imperative to analyze the procedure of talaq in the Qur’an to expose the illegitimacy of the stand of some of the clergy.
Several reformatory steps have been introduced in different Islamic countries to enhance the status of women after reappraisal of several misconceived cultural practices. India should take a cue from countries where progressive reforms have restored the dignity of women not through any extra-Qur’anic legislation but through resurrection of the pristine Qur’an from the shroud of acculturations. .it is not Qura’n, but worn out and antiquated customs that have denied women their rightful place in society,
Moin Qazi is a well known banker, author and Islamic researcher .He holds doctorates in Economics and English. He was Visiting Fellow at the University of Manchester. He has authored several books on religion, rural finance, culture and handicrafts. He is author of the bestselling book Village Diary of a Development Banker. He is also a recipient of UNESCO World Politics Essay Gold Medal and Rotary International’s Vocational Excellence Award. He is based in Nagpur and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org