FROM MAULANA’S DESK
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognized as one of its most influential Muslims1 . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.
INSTANT TRIPLE TALAQ IS UN-ISLAMIC
AS an Islamic scholar, I would say that the Supreme Court’s judgement delivered on August 22—striking down instant triple talaq (divorce) as being unconstitutional—is totally right. Triple talaq is not a principle of Islam, but is rather a ruling of certain Muslim jurists, adopted in the later period of Islam. In this matter, Muslim jurists need to correct themselves instead of wrongly justifying triple talaq.
In Islam, talaq is seen as an undesirable practice. But in rare cases, a couple may feel that their marriage is not working, and in this situation, divorce is allowed. However, there is a prescribed method laid down by the Quran (2: 229). That is, a divorce is finalised over a period of time. In the first month, the husband tells his wife that he has pronounced talaq once. Both then wait for a month during which they could reconcile. After the first month, he may either revoke the talaq or pronounce it a second time. Both wait for another month, at the end of which, if he pronounces a third talaq, the divorce becomes final.
This pattern was adhered to during the time of the Prophet and the first Caliph Abu Bakr. There were rare cases, when a man would come to the Prophet or Abu Bakr, saying that he had divorced his wife by saying talaq three times in one go. Then the Prophet and Abu Bakr would consider this an instance of talaq being said in anger and so did not finalise the divorce. Rather, they told him that his uttering ‘talaq’ three times in one instance would be regarded as only one pronouncement of talaq.
During the time of the second Caliph Umar, the number of people who began to pronounce talaq in one sitting increased. Umar, in a case, ruled the saying of talaq three times in one go as final and annulled the marriage. But he also flogged that man as deterrent punishment. This helped in curbing instances of saying talaq at one go. Certainly, Umar’s practice was not a Shariah law. His step was rather an example of hukm al-hakim, or an executive order. His annulment of marriage in the case where the man said talaq three times in one go was an exercise of the discretionary power of a ruler. Such executive orders are applicable to particular cases and do not have the status of Shariah law.
Triple talaq is not a principle of Islam, but is rather a ruling of certain Muslim jurists, adopted in the later period of Islam. In this matter, Muslim jurists need to correct themselves instead of wrongly justifying triple talaq
In the British period, men again began to divorce their wives in one sitting. Now Muslim jurists belonging to the Hanafi school of law revived Umar’s order and made instant triple talaq valid. The Hanafi jurists cited Umar’s precedent, but this reference was unwarranted, because Umar had done so by way of an executive order while, in the later period, Hanafi jurists did so by issuing a fatwa. Moreover, Umar had also punished the person, while Hanafi jurists were not in a position to do so.
In such a scenario, my advice to Hanafi Muslims is to take the Supreme Court’s verdict as a reminder and review their practice. They should consider triple talaq in one go as a case of a decision having been taken in anger and take it as only one talaq—as had been done during the time of the Prophet.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
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