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Published On: Wed, Aug 23rd, 2017

Muslim Womans stamped out unconstitutional “Triple Talaq” practiced over years

The Indian Supreme Court has ruled that the controversial practice of instant divorce in Islam is unconstitutional. It is being hailed as a huge victory by rights activists. But the battle was not easy, as the  Geeta Pandey in Delhi explains.

Over the years, Muslim women in India have complained of living in perpetual fear of being thrown out of their matrimonial homes in a matter of seconds because a Muslim man, if he chooses, can end years of marriage just by saying the word “talaq” (divorce) three times.

A campaign to end the practice of unilateral instant “triple talaq” began in India several decades ago.

But it picked up steam last year when a 35-year-old mother-of-two approached the Supreme Court seeking justice.

Shayara Bano’s petition, filed in February 2016, said she was visiting her parents’ home in the northern state of Uttarakhand for medical treatment when she received her so-called talaqnama – a letter from her husband telling her that he was divorcing her.

Her attempts to reach her husband of 15 years, who lives in the city of Allahabad, were unsuccessful. She was also denied access to her children.

In her petition, she demanded a total ban on the practice saying it allowed Muslim men to treat their wives like “chattels”.


She also asked the court to outlaw halala (where a divorced woman has to marry another man and consummate her marriage in order to go back to her former husband) and polygamy (Muslims in India are allowed to take four wives).

These practices were “illegal, unconstitutional, discriminatory and against the modern principles of gender justice”, she said.

Divorce in Islam

Islamic scholars say the Koran clearly spells out how to issue a divorce – it has to be spread over three months which allows a couple time for reflection and reconciliation.

But for centuries now, the controversial instant triple talaq – known as Talaq-e-Bidat – has been practised in India with approval from the clergy.

Bidat is the Persian word for “sin” and it allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by just saying “talaq talaq talaq”.

Campaigners say modern technology has made it even easier for unscrupulous men to dump their wives by phone, email or text.

There have also been instances where men have used Skype, WhatsApp or Facebook for the purpose.

The unilateral, instantaneous triple talaq finds no mention in Sharia or the Koran and it’s already banned in 22 Islamic countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh.




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