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  India   All India  19 May 2017  Let’s not politicise talaq

Let’s not politicise talaq

THE ASIAN AGE. | NILOFAR SUHRAWARDY
Published : May 19, 2017, 1:46 am IST
Updated : May 19, 2017, 1:46 am IST

Greater importance should be given to including the point opposing triple talaq in one sitting in the Nikahnama.

The manner in which they are making noise on this issue seeks to create an impression as if each and every Muslim family in India is suffering from problems caused by the so-called triple talaq. (Representational Image)
 The manner in which they are making noise on this issue seeks to create an impression as if each and every Muslim family in India is suffering from problems caused by the so-called triple talaq. (Representational Image)

Goodness, gracious, who is asking whom not to “politicise” triple talaq issue? The respected leaders’ stand would bear greater significance if they also come out with statistics regarding how many triple talaq cases have really taken place over in the past few years. How many Muslim women face the trauma of being divorced by talaq being pronounced in one sitting? The manner in which they are making noise on this issue seeks to create an impression as if each and every Muslim family in India is suffering from problems caused by the so-called triple talaq. It would not be a bad idea if these leaders make a rudimentary survey of Muslims associated with their government as well as party and learn how many of them have faced/used the triple talaq in their marriages. The Supreme Court should also pay some attention to whether the noise being made over triple talaq is a hype or do statistics really support it as a serious problem for Muslim women. Also, some importance should be paid to it becoming a necessity from the angle of women trapped in bad marriages. In these cases, rather than remaining married, they may prefer going for divorce at the earliest possible.

Ironically, as the chief stated that talaq should not be turned into a political issue, another commented on “third class status” of Muslim women.  One stated that talaq is a means to satisfy “lust”. Yet another attempt is being made by these politicians to gain substantial media coverage over this issue and also target the Muslim community. With due respect to these leaders’ “concern” for Muslim women regarding the so-called talaq issue, prospects of Muslim community in general agreeing to politicians’ stand on it may be viewed as non-existent. Muslims and clerics are least likely to welcome interference by political leaders in what they regard as “religious”. Well Muslims do have a point in keeping with their constitutional right to freedom of religion. Muslims may view politicians’ stand on “triple talaq” as being deliberately expressed primarily because of their anti-Muslim attitude than their concern for welfare of the Muslim community, particularly the ladies.

 

In this situation, the concerned politicians should probably read the Quran (its translation is available in Hindi and English as well as other languages) and then raise questions about divorce among Muslims. They may with substantial authority point to limitations laid in the Quran about divorce. But of course the idea of reading the Quran is least likely to be welcomed by most of these politicians. And this fact may be viewed as a hard reality, a pointer to their tendency of repeatedly targeting the Muslim community’s religious beliefs without making even an attempt to first understand its basic principles.

Religious and also legal validity of marriage among Muslims rests on Nikahnama, which requires signatures of the bride, bridegroom and two witnesses. Nikahnama is a marriage contract which lays down certain terms and conditions, including the “mehr” agreed upon. The mehr is the money that the wife is legally entitled to ask for. If the marriage ends, the husband is bound to give her the mehr. Greater importance should be given to including the point opposing triple talaq in one sitting in the Nikahnama. It would be perhaps more sensible of politicians speaking against triple talaq to take steps towards popularising this point in the Nikahnama. Also, importance should be given to including points in Nikahnama, which cannot be viewed as contradicting any religious practice, but would prove helpful to women in distress.

 

In India, torment facing married women in general because of abuse, dowry demand, divorce and numerous other reasons is not confined to Muslim women alone. Islam does not permit dowry. But its practice among Muslims is on the rise. Islam does not allow abuse of women nor is it in favour of males marrying the second, third or fourth time, without permission from the first wife. It also lays out that all wives must be treated equally. Yes, there are cases of non-Muslims choosing to become Muslims for the sake of second marriages. This demands that Nikahnama should include a point specifically disallowing second marriages, without written permission from the first wife and make the husband bound to take care of her needs as well as children out of that marriage.

 

Rather than make noise only about “triple talaq”, it would be more sensible for respected leaders to talk about a marriage contract, with clauses against practises which lead to abuse of women. The contract should lay out categorically, with consent of bride, bridegroom and witnesses, that saying talaq thrice in one sitting would not lead to dissolution of the marriage. It would also be more practical of leaders not to confine their concern only to Muslim women.

They should also consider a marriage contract for women of all religions with strictures against practice of dowry. Considering the noise being about a Uniform Civil Code, a beginning can be made by proposing a marriage contract binding on religions, with clauses banning dowry, changing religion for second marriages, instant divorces, abuse of women and so forth. They should do so to prove that they are not raising issue of “triple talaq” only for political reasons.

 

Nilofar Suhrawardy is a senior journalist and writer. She has come out with two books Ayodhya Without the Communal Stamp: In the Name of Indian Secularism and Image and Substance: Modi’s First Year in Office

Tags: politicise, triple talaq, triple talaq case, muslims, muslim community