Talaq-ul-bidat or ‘Triple talaq’ is a controversial practice prevalent among Muslims that dissolves a conjugal life when the husband says the word ‘talaq’ or a husband may divorce her wife by saying, ‘I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you,’ effectively throwing her out on the street. The custom is criticised for being unilateral and prejudiced against women, and is banned in 22 Muslim countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.

India is perhaps the only country in the world where a Muslim man can divorce his wife in a matter of minutes by just saying the word “talaq” thrice whereby if a man’s wife is not menstruating (Iddat period 3 menstrual cycles). But this controversial practice of “triple talaq” is now facing a hard objection, the Supreme Court is accounting whether to declare it unconstitutional which had ruined the lives of many women.

Several women’s rights groups have also spoken out against the practice and its ill effects, especially on Muslim women (or women who marry into Muslim community). On the other hand, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has consistently said that triple talaq is a personal law and thus, cannot be modified by the Centre. The issue has given rise to a heated debate on the need for a Uniform Civil Code or make it a Hindu versus Muslim issue in India.

Triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat), nikah halala and polygamy are unconstitutional because they compromise the rights of Muslim women (or women who marry into Muslim community) to their difficulty, which is harmful to them and their kiddies. According to the National Commission for Women (NCW), “These practices- triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy should be strictly prohibited. NCW is supporting the stand of the Union government and is adapting the affidavit filed by it.”

Activists are demanding a total ban on triple talaq. Photo Courtesy:- AFP

Triple talaq is totally un-Qur’anic, a Muslim marriage is a social contract and the right to divorce is given to both husband and wife. According to Shaista Amber, AIMWPLB president, when a man gives talaq (divorce) he must pause and consult his wife otherwise, triple talaq is like a hanging scimitar for Muslim women.

India’s ministry of law and justice had referred to the constitutional principles such as gender equality, international covenants, religious practices, secularism and marital law prevalent in various Islamic countries to drive home the point that the practice of triple talaq and polygamy needed to be adjudicated upon afresh by the apex court.

Now “Triple talaq” is in its sights, after the Indian supreme court initiated last year a historic exercise to examine if controversial practices such as polygamy and instance divorce allowed by Islamic personal law results in gender discrimination. Banning the custom would free up to 90 million Muslim women in the country from a potential trapdoor divorce.

“In democracy, there should be discussion. The government has put forward its position. Those who want to digress from triple talaq are instigating people…in the country, lives of Muslim women cannot be allowed to be ruined by triple talaq,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

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