By Rana Safvi
Jul 06, 2018
The Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed
in 610 AD and the very first verse was “Read” (96: 1). Unfortunately for
Islam, most people took the meaning of ‘Iqra’ (read) as learn by heart.
Herein lies the problem, for we don’t know what is right or wrong ourselves and
rely only on Ulema to tell us. They tend to translate the ambiguity in some
words from a patriarchal mindset. Thus we erroneously end up following what
essentially customs are accepted by Muslims, not necessarily laid down by
In India, we Muslim women are also
protected by the Constitution that is not ambiguous, and it is in light of that
that many Muslim women are demanding equality and justice. Article 14
guarantees equal rights to all citizens. Article 15 prohibits discrimination on
grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Article 25 says that
religious freedom is subject to fundamental rights. As their fight is also
within the Quranic framework, I wonder why Muslim bodies are objecting to it.
After striking down instant triple Talaq,
the Supreme Court is now looking at the practice of Nikah Halala and
polygamy. There is no such thing as Nikah Halala in Islam or mentioned in the
Quran. It is a word coined by Muslim men for their convenience.
The opposite of the word Haram, which means
forbidden, is Halal, that which is permissible.
Nikah Halala is a practice meant to curb
the incidence of divorce, under which a man cannot remarry his former wife
without her having to go through the process of (temporarily) marrying someone
else, consummating it, getting divorced and observing a three-month separation
period known as Iddat.
Does the Quran permit this? Absolutely not.
Let us examine what the Quran has to say about it: “And if he has divorced her
(for the third time), then she is not lawful to him afterward until (after) she
marries a husband other than him. And if the latter husband divorces her (or
dies), there is no blame upon the woman and her former husband for returning to
each other if they think that they can keep (within) the limits of Allah. These
are the limits of Allah, which He makes clear to a people who know”(Quran 2:230).
As remarriage was encouraged, once the
three-month period of iddat or waiting is complete, she could marry anyone else
she wanted. These were conditions put in to protect, not exploit, women.
Further, if this husband dies, or if she
didn’t get along with him and it leads to a divorce, she is free to go back to
the first husband as it is halal. This is to be of her own free will and
without any conspiracy, and certainly not a marriage entered into cynically
just for the purpose of an immediate divorce so that she can remarry the first
husband. Such a marriage can only be called a malpractice or an innovation
against the spirit of Islam.
There are only two verses in the Quran
which talk of polygamy in the Surah Nisa, verses 3 and 129. Both are in
response to a specific situation and set many conditions. In the 7th century,
when many wars were taking place, and there were many orphans and widows, verse
3 recommended that men could marry the female orphans under their care if they
felt they couldn’t act equitably towards them otherwise, with the rider that if
you could not treat them with equal fairness, then marry only one. Thus
polygamy was allowed only if they could treat wives equally and verse 129
clarified, “It will not be within your power to treat your wives with equal
fairness, however much you may desire.” So, nowhere does the Quran give carte
blanche for Muslim men to indulge in polygamy. Forgetting or ignoring the
conditions the Quran laid down, men continue these practices. I am glad today
the Muslim women of India are demanding justice from the Supreme Court and
abolition of these totally abhorrent and anti-Islamic laws.
Those following them may be a minority, but
even one man among the 20 Crore Muslims should not be able to practise them.
Rana Safvi is a historian, author and columnist, documenting India’s
Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 2 Surah Baqarah verses 229-230:
229 A divorce is only permissible twice: after that the parties should either hold together on equitable terms or separate with kindness. It is not lawful for you (men) to take back any of your gifts (from your wives) except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah. If ye (judges) do indeed fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah there is no blame on either of them if she give something for her freedom. These are the limits ordained by Allah; so do not transgress them. If any do transgress the limits ordained by Allah such persons wrong (themselves as well as others).
230 So if a husband divorces his wife (irrevocably) he cannot after that remarry her until after she has married another husband and he has divorced her. In that case there is no blame on either of them if they reunite provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by Allah. Such are the limits ordained by Allah which He makes plain to those who understand.