TALAQ, TALAQ,  . . .


The raging debate in the country today is on gender justice: can a woman be denied her fundamental rights because she belongs to a certain faith?
Three victims of triple talaq have come to the SC with the plea that ‘talaq’, polygamy, and ‘nikah halala‘ – which stipulates that to remarry her husband, a divorced wife must first marry another man, consummate this marriage and then get divorced by him – was misogyny; that these trampled on their fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 15 of Constitution and were therefore unconstitutional. SC will hear them along with the PIL – “Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality” – generated on SC’s orders.
All India Muslim Personal Board (AIMPLB) and Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind (JeH)’s argument that Sharia is God’s law and therefore cannot be superseded by manmade laws, ie the Constitution, is hollow. Many Islamic states – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Iran – have regulated the Sharia divorce and polygamy laws showing that these are not essential religious practices that are beyond reform.
Other arguments advanced by JeH and AIMPLB are laughable: viz, “legal compulsions and expenses [of divorce] may [lead husband to] murdering or burning her [wife] alive . . . divorce proceedings could damage a woman’s chances of re-marriage if the husband indicts her of loose character in court . . . polygamy is a blessing because it prevents promiscuity, illicit sex, extra-marital relationship and women leading a spinster’s life.” And concludes: “India is a patriarchal society, and therefore personal laws of all communities are aligned with the patriarchal notion”!
AIMPLB’s stand has been condemned by secular Muslim, and by many Muslim Women’s organisations and Muslim intellectuals, jurists, commentators and community leaders – as retrograde, untrue and patriarchal.
Central govt has, for the first time in India’s constitutional history, opposed in the Supreme Court the practice of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy among Muslims. In a secular democracy, religion, or the preservation of plurality and diversity among the people, cannot be a reason to deny the equal status and dignity available to women under the Constitution, it argued.
Muslim women have tried for decades but failed to persuade their religious leaders to amend the personal laws that discriminate against them. Institutions such as Urdu media that can help the women have remained moot. So the women had no option but to come to the SC to adjudicate on their demand for equal rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Muslim women need emancipation. But the the imam khatib are the greatest block to their emancipation.
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