New Delhi: Stating that the Muslims must share the blame for the present situation which led to the criminalisation of instant talaq, Syeda Hameed, former member of Planning Commission of India and National Commission for Women, urged the community to revert to spirit of Islam to prevent future damage.
"For the situation in which Muslims find themselves, they have only themselves to blame. We can prevent future damage by reverting to spirit of Islam and not distort it through biased interpretations", Syeda Hameed, the founder member and current president of the Muslim Women’s Forum, said in an article published by Hindustan Times.
"The Quranic provision on talaq is clear. In Islam, there is no concept of reincarnation. To enjoy the gift of this life, the provision of graceful separation is provided, in case marriage becomes intolerable for either party. Hence the concept of talaq and khula.
"The man is given a way out through the provision of talaq and the woman through the right of khula. The balance is perfect and explained with precision in the Quran", Syeda Hameed, the founder member and current president of the Muslim Women’s Forum, said.
"In pre-Islamic Arabia, when the Koran was revealed 1,437 years ago, girl children were buried at birth. In these circumstances, came a man who revealed Allah’s word that women were equal to men in every way. That they were free agents with rights in marriage, divorce, property and income.
"In a society where men contracted scores of marriages the Koran said ‘enough’. No more than four but added a next sentence for men. ‘Since you are generally incapable of dispensing equal justice to four, one is enough'", she said.
"When I wrote the first ever report on status of Muslim women in India, I was a member of the National Commission for Women. That was in 2000, when no one could have imagined the way that the political tide would turn rightward. But when I wrote the report there was a sixth sense which made me warn the Maulanas and Alims.
"I wrote that unless they direct the community in their public preaching to practise Islam in the light of the basic tenets of the Quran and abjure the abhorrent practices of triple talaq and multiple marriages, they will live to regret it. A time may come when the government of the day will weigh in", she said.
Syeda Hameed's article is published on the day when, ignoring the appeal by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and other community organisations, the Modi government tabled in the Lok Sabha the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill - popularly known as the Triple Talaq bill.
Under the draft law, triple talaq in any form -- spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp -- would be bad or illegal and void.
The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or concurrent talaq and it would give power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking "subsistence allowance" for herself and minor children.
The woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.
"The provision of subsistence allowance and custody has been made to ensure that in case the husband asks the wife to leave the house she should have legal protection," the functionary said.
According to the draft law, which would be applicable to the entire country except Jammu and Kashmir, giving instant talaq would attract a jail term of three years and a fine. It would be a non-bailable, cognisable offence.
The Supreme Court of India on August 22, 2017 while terming instant or triple talaq against the principles of Quran and Shariah invalidated the evil practice and asked the government to bring a legislation on it in the parliament.
The Supreme Court referred to the fact that several Islamic countries like Pakistan do not allow triple talaq; judges questioned why it should not be abolished in India.
Differences over practice of Triple Talaq exist in the Islamic Sharia since the tenure of second Caliph Omar (RA). Muslim scholars and jurists argue that concurrent talaq or triple talaq in one go has never been approved by Prphet Mohammad (peace be upon him), during the tenure of first Caliph Abu Bakr (RA) and the first two years of Caliph Omar's caliphate.
Caliph Omar later approved it as punishment, scholars argue, but later on the practice was annulled by Muslim jurists. It is on this basis, the practice of concurrent talaq has been termed invalid in most of the Muslim countries.
Muslims in India, majority of them followers of Hanafi school of thought, are adamant on the invalid concurrent talaq and are fighting a case with women activists in the Supreme Court.
Interestingly, some renowned Hanafi scholars have also ruled against concurrent or triple talaq. According to the sources in the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the members fear that agreeing to any change on triple talaq would open floodgate of interference in other Sharia matters.
It is also learnt that there is a strong dissent among the members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMLB) and especially some women members are upset over board's handling of the situation.