Divorced From Reality
By Hanif Murad
Aug 16, 2013
Talaq, Talaq, Talaq — the three dreaded words — if uttered by a husband in quick succession could, in less than a blink of an eye, unilaterally bring to an end the marital life of a Muslim woman. However, in what may come as a shock to numerous Muslims and others, the Quran — the holy book of the Muslims — does not prescribe this form of divorce at all.
In fact, the Quran has specifically laid down a formula of a three-tiered calibrated divorce, keeping in mind human frailties. The first two stages give an opportunity to the estranged couple to reconsider their decision and, if possible, reconcile and resume their married relationship.
But it is only the third and last step, if traversed, that would make the Talaq irrevocable. Therefore, the most important injunction in the Quran, in this regard, is that after each pronouncement of Talaq there has to be compulsorily a period of waiting or iddat that provides a timeout to reflect on the alternatives to a divorce.
And, neither the uttering of Talaq, Talaq, Talaq in one sentence nor a single pronouncement to indicate an intention of irrevocably dissolving the marriage had the approval of Prophet Muhammad. A relevant Hadith on the subject, quoted in Islamic Research Foundation International, USA, would make it clear. "Maulana Usmani quotes from Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal that once Rukanah pronounced three divorces against his wife but later he was very sorry for it. When the Prophet (peace be unto him) asked him, 'How did you divorce your wife?' Rukanah replied that he had pronounced three divorces. The Prophet asked, 'Did you pronounce it in one sitting?' When he said, 'Yes,' the noble Prophet said, 'Treat it as one divorce only and, if you want, you can take your wife back.' And Rukanah took his wife back."
Hence, the triple Talaq in one sitting is called Talaq-ul-Bida’at — a heretical Talaq. The triple Talaq, which Muslims are made to believe is based on divine revelation, is nothing but a man-made legal evasion created by a pliant Muslim clergy during the second century of the Muhammadan era.
This was done at the behest of the Omayyad monarchs who "finding that the checks imposed by the Prophet...interfered with the indulgence of their caprice, endeavoured to find an escape from the strictness of the law..." A G Noorani, the well-known Sup-reme Court lawyer, says with authority, "There is not a single verse in the Quran sanctioning the triple Talaq or a single precept of Prophet Muhammad in its support."
The procedure of a Quranic divorce is civil even in time of turmoil. Allah recognises that there could arise disharmony in the married life of a couple wherein a separation may appear to be the only option. However, Allah is also aware of the disruption a divorce can cause in a family. Thus, it is prescribed in Verse 4.35 of the Quran: "And if ye fear a breach between them twain (the man and wife ), appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they desire amendment, Allah will make them of one mind..."
Thus, as a first step, even before the first Talaq is uttered, the Quran ordains a meeting of arbiters, representing both the sides, to try to repair the relationship. However, if for any reason, they do not succeed, the Quran says in Verse 65.1: "...When ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately), their prescribed periods: and fear Allah your Lord: and turn them not out of their houses..."
The waiting period prescribed for women with menstrual cycles is three cycles, for those who do not have menstrual cycles (because of age or sickness), is three months and for pregnant women, until the delivery of child.
Once the first Talaq is uttered, during the waiting period or thereafter, the separated couple can resume their marital relationship with a fresh Nikah. However, if after a period of time, friction again arises between them, they can opt for a second Talaq following the same sequence as the first.
After having gone through, over a phase, the process of remarrying the same spouse twice, should further discord or strife arise between them, then the third Talaq can be uttered. This time it is irrevocable. As the Quran says in Verse 2.229: "A divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness."
Therefore, only the Talaq, as prescribed by the Quran, rather than the Talaq-ul-Bida’at, should be made applicable to all Muslims in India. This idea is also supported by former chief justice of India R C Lahoti who had approvingly quoted the pronouncement of justice Bahar ul Islam that the triple Talaq "is based on the concept that women were chattel belonging to men, which the holy Quran does not brook".
Hanif Murad is a social commentator.
By Muhammad Yunus, NewAgeIslam.com