Islamic Concept of Talaq
The Supreme Court has made instant and irrevocable Talaq invalid to the delight of most of the people. Majority of Muslims, however, feel that the verdict has manifestly gone against their Shariat. In this context, the media are seized with certain wrong concepts and interpretations on Talaq and hence this article aims at focusing on the real Islamic concept of Talaq.
Divorce in most of the religions is not possible at personal level. It is to be decided in the court. It is not so in Islam. But the misconception is that a husband can divorce his wife but the wife cannot. In Islam, if the wife is subject to domestic violence and physical torture, she is entitled to claim ‘Khula,’ another form of Talaq in Shariat.
Likewise, the husband on account of incompatibility of temperament with his wife and certain irreconcilable matters can divorce his wife. In these two types of Talaq, no court interference is required. One of the couple can, however, take the matter to the court. This means that Muslim women can claim perfect equality with their men in matters of Talaq.
It is not possible for the husband to arbitrarily part with his wife proclaiming Talaq. Islam has set the following specific procedure which the husband has to follow before he divorces his wife.
i. Mutual talk: In case of strained relationship between husband and wife, they should sit together and dispassionately discuss all the angularities and dissensions and try to make an all-out attempt to resolve their disputes amicably.
ii. Temporary separation: If they cannot resolve their dispute amicably, they should keep themselves away from each other for a short period of a week, a fortnight or more.
iii. Arbitration: The third step is the arbitration by the elders of the families of the husband and the wife, with an open discussion on discord and estrangement between the couple and, thus, the attempt to pave the way for reconciliation and peace between them.
iv. Outside intervention: If the third step fails, an outsider known to the two families should be allowed to intervene and bring about rapprochement and reconciliation between the warring couple.
If all the four serious attempts fail to bring about the reunion between the couple, the husband is allowed to pronounce a single Talaq with two persons as witness and thus the implementation of Talaq takes place. A Talaq without exhausting these options has no legal validity.
Utterance of Talaq once is the most desirable form of separation. In this form, within the Iddat period of three months, the husband can sink his differences at any time and reconcile with his wife and resume conjugal relationship with her without any interference from others.
In the second type of Talaq, the husband utters Talaq twice. In this form, provision for reunion is the remarriage with his wife soon after the Iddat period.
The third type is the most despicable form in which the husband in a fit of anger utters Talaq thrice. In this form, there is no possibility of reunion. The Triple Talaq is permissible in Islam but not commended and Prophet most heartily detested it.
Husbands mostly resort to the sinful Talaq in the heat of his anger. He resorts to the irrevocable Talaq willfully ignoring the two other options of Talaq where reconciliation is possible. Triple Talaq is the product of the past when people married frequently, taking as many wives as they liked. Divorce was easy and frequent: a man having set aside a wife, might remarry her again and re-establish conjugal relationship with her. They had a sort of provisional divorce i.e., divorcing a wife for a short period and taking her back later. All these kinds of immoral and unethical practices were thrown to the winds by Mohammed (saws).
It was Mohammed (saws) who established balance and greater justice and equality in the field of marriage and divorce. His principle was ‘either keep or release your wives in fair manner.’ Even Triple Talaq is an extremely rare occurrence among Muslims. In the Muslim population of 100 million in India, the divorced women constitute hardly ¼ % of the Muslim population. It is not known how many out of this are victims of Triple Talaq.
Even in the pronouncement of Talaq, the husband has to adhere to the following steps:
- He should not divorce his wife during menstruation period nor should he do it when she is pregnant.
- The divorce should be of single type which provides the husband a possibility to reconcile with his wife.
- He is strongly discouraged from pronouncing three Talaq together at one time.
There is a general belief that a divorced wife is driven out of her husband’s house and is only tolerated in her parent’s place. It is a gross misconception. The husband after dissolution of marital relationship with his wife cannot resort to her eviction from his house. She will remain in his house.
The husband has to bear the entire expenses on her maintenance – food, clothing and medicine until the waiting perios. He should not retain any part of what he has gifted her during his life. At the end of the Iddat period, her father has to take care of her and, after father’s death it is the duty of her brother to maintain her. Islam also permits her a second marriage which is not easy in other religions.
Besides, if the divorced wife is pregnant, she stays in the house of her former husband till her delivery and Iddat period is extended. The husband has to bear the expenses of the child throughout the life.
Thus, in Islam divorce is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a last resort and solution for an unending bickering and dissension between the couple, causing relief to both.
* Dr. Farhatullah is a retired Professor of English in Government collegiate services and VIT Institute of Technology University and now a prolific text-book writer of schools and colleges. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org