A conscientious explanation of of instantaneous talaq. the puzzling issue
O Muslims who look up each practice of the Prophet Mohammad with reverent awe, yield to an act never performed by him? The answer is a definite “yes” as the prophet never divorced. Does Islam discuss women beyond the terms of mother, sister, companion, object of entertainment and a centre of attraction and fidelity by rejecting the Semitic belief that described woman as an inferior empty-headed moron? Does the matrimonial code of Islam put a premium on fair treatment of wife? These two questions again fetch a “yes”.
Do triple talaq, halala and muta constitute the fate of Muslim women who are left unsheltered and uncared for? Does Islam provide Muslim men with a lethal weapon—divorce by way of pronouncing the dreaded word “talaq”? Here, “no” is the right answer. Is the right to divorce available to women in Islam? “Yes”. These pertinent and incisive questions and the answers hardly figure in the intense, cacophonous and polemical debate on talaq, but they are brilliantly articulated by Ziya Us Salam, a literary critic, a votary of interfaith dialogue and an eminent journalist, in his recently published book Till Talaq Do Us Part.
The book, divided into 16 laconic chapters, betrays a strong sense of academic rigour. It goes beyond perceptive sifting and interpretation of the Quranic verses or dealing explicitly with talaq and the practice and sayings of the Prophet. Further, frequent references to the important texts of Islamic jurisprudence provide insights into talaq—a socioreligious practice that has left demagogues and the media in confusion. Ziya’s slim volume brilliantly produces an unostenta- tious narrative on instant divorce, or triple talaq.
Notwithstanding the Prophet’s intention to elevate the status of motherhood and wifehood and launch an intense movement against gender inequality, enslavement and exploitation, Islam continues to be pilloried for validating divorce and polygamy. Disagreeing with the basic argument vigorously pursued by the protagonists of talaq that forbidding divorce brings a type of concubinage, the author uses an array of documentary evidence to reinforce the sacred nature of marriage stipulated by Islam and asserts:
“Islam allows a man to divorce his wife, but there is a process for it. It is not like two minute noodles or switching off the ignition of your car. It allows a woman, too, to dissolve her marriage. It gives both men and women the right to step out of wedlock through mutual consent” (page XXIV).
Islam does allow divorce; it is a right through which one can conquer the sense of guilt. It is widely believed that conjugal rights are definitely tilted towards men as women have virtually no say in the parting of ways although their consent is essential for marriage.
DEBATE ON KHULA
Ziya has set in motion a debate, amazingly shorn of institutional religiosity, on a woman’s right to divorce, called khula, and it has the potential to trigger a new awakening about Islam’s commitment to gender justice. Contrary to popular perception, women, too, are provided with an inalienable right to divorce— “khula”, which one hardly hears of. A lot of fog has been allowed to gather around a woman’s right to dissolve her marriage. The author tries to wipe out the miasma of confusion, and says:
“Under khula, a woman has a right similar to that of a man to dissolve the marriage. What’s more important is that she has to specify no grounds for effecting the divorce. She has to furnish no proof of harassment or ill-treatment. Something as simple as a dislike for husband’s looks
Till Talaq Do us Part Understanding Triple Talq, Talaq and Khula By Ziya Us Salam Penguinrandomhouse, 2018 Pages: 218 Price: Rs.399