Triple talaq in India

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Triple Talaq, also known as talaq-e-biddat, instant divorce and talaq-e-mughallazah (irrevocable divorce), is a form of Islamic divorce which has been used by Muslims in India, especially adherents of Hanafi Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. It allows any Muslim man to legally divorce his wife by stating the word talaq (the Arabic word for "divorce") three times in oral, written, or more recently, electronic form. On 30 July 2019, the Parliament of India declared the practice of Triple Talaq illegal and unconstitutional and made it a punishable act from 1 August 2019.[1] However, a bench of the Supreme Court of India has allowed the practice of divorce for Muslim men through, "Talaq-e-Hasan" which is pronounced once a month over a period of three months and a Muslim woman can also part ways with her husband through "khula (mutually agreed divorce)".[2]


  • We have taken a very important step by taking action on Triple Talaq. We have always thought about our Muslim sisters and mothers. If we can remove Sati Pratha, if we can think of equality for women, why shouldn't we think about removing Triple talaq for our Muslim women?... Remember how scared Muslim women were, those who suffered due to practice of Triple Talaq, but we ended that. When Islamic nations can ban it then why can't we? When we can ban Sati, when we can take strong steps against female infanticide, child marriage, then why not this?
  • For ever so long Indian Muslims, and therefore Indians in general have suffered because of this amorousness of the Muslim liberal. For a brief moment it seemed that Ayodhya would spell a change. On the one hand, the Muslim community was brought face to face with the costs of the politics of Shahabuddin, Imam Bukhari and the rest: it seemed more willing to listen to the liberal voices within it. On the other, the Muslim liberal was reminded that it was not enough for him to be liberal. If the community continued to follow obscurantist leaders, there would be a reaction, and all, including the Muslim liberal would be sucked down in its tow. Several Muslim liberals therefore began taking a lead in defining what ought to be done on issues which had become the preserve of the obscurantists. On ‘Triple talaq’ itself, as we saw, several months before Justice Tilhari gave his judgment, the Muslim Intelligentsia Meet had passed a resolution condemning the practice as being in violation of the Quran and Hadis. It had drawn attention to the ‘extreme hardship and harshness’ to which the practice exposes women. So, there was an aperture of opportunity. But the moment passed: soon enough Ali Mian, the All India Milli Council and the rest were once again in the forefront; the Muslim liberal was once again back in his cubbyhole. Each of these factors contributes to the power of the ulema. But, as we shall see, the central explanation is different.
    • Shourie, Arun (2012). The world of fatwas, or, The Shariah in action. Noida, Uttar Pradesh: HarperCollins Publishers India
  • For, while in theory talaq is said to be so abominable to Allah, in practice the position is entirely the opposite. The jurists repeat the counsel that divorce is something from which one should abstain. But this is just counsel. As to the power, they are unanimous: it is a power which lies with the husband, and it is untrammelled. Should the husband choose to exercise it, no one, and no consideration can save the wife. The counsel itself has the caveat invariably built into it, a caveat large enough to drive an elephant through it: you should not give talaq, the jurists say adding, except when there is need for it! ... In theory talaq may be abominable but in practice the husband has the power—the absolute, unconditional power, a power for exercising which he is not accountable to anyone on earth—to throw the wife out by just uttering the word ‘talaq’.
    • Shourie, Arun (2012). The world of fatwas, or, The Shariah in action. Noida, Uttar Pradesh: HarperCollins Publishers India
  • ‘By a deplorable, though, perhaps, natural, development of the Sunni law,’ wrote Justice Faiz Badruddin Tyabji in his famous work, ‘it is the fourth and most disapproved or sinful mode of talaq (that is, the Triple talaq) which seems to be the most prevalent, and in a sense, even favoured by the law...’ Not only was it the most prevalent and favoured form, he noted, its effects are ‘aggravated’ in that talaq having been pronounced thrice, it could not but be taken to be conclusive and irrevocable. That was Justice Badruddin Tyabji writing eighty years ago. Forty years ago, Justice Shahmiri observed that as this form of divorcing the wife is the ‘least onerous for husbands, it is the most prevalent form obtaining in India.’10 Eighty years ago... Forty years ago... And three years ago Professor Tahir Mahmood noted, ‘For centuries the common Muslim has believed that the so-called ‘Triple talaq’ is the only ‘Islamic’ form of divorce...’, that ‘Divorce by a Muslim husband in this country (India) almost invariably means a Triple talaq’—with the concept of a single revocable talaq people have little acquaintance.’
    • Justice Faiz Badruddin Tyabji quoted in Arun Shourie - The World of Fatwas Or The Sharia in Action (2012, Harper Collins)
  • The ‘Triple talaq’ ‘is the heretical or irregular mode of divorce,’ Syed Ameer Ali wrote over a hundred years ago in his famous Muhammadan Law, ‘which was introduced in the second century of the Mahommedan era. It was then that the Omeyyade monarchs, finding that the checks imposed by the Prophet on the facility of repudiation interfered with the indulgence of their caprice, endeavoured to find an escape from the strictness of the law, and found in the pliability of the jurists a loophole to effect their purpose.’
    • Shourie, Arun (2012). The world of fatwas, or, The Shariah in action. Noida, Uttar Pradesh: HarperCollins Publishers India
  • In a recent essay Tahir Mahmood goes even further: on his reckoning the Triple talaq is not just a rule which the Islamic jurists formulated to help women be rid of undesirable husbands, it is a rule which the jurists came to recognize and accept at the initiative of the aggrieved women! ‘This simple but meaningful reform introduced by the Prophet got corrupted in the course of time,’ he writes, recounting that the Prophet’s pronouncements constituted a deterrent to husbands and that they put limits on what a husband could do. ‘In fits of anger husbands began pronouncing on their wives “three divorces at a time”. And married women, sick of their tyrant husbands, in a bid to get rid of them, insisted that “three divorces at a time” should be given the effect of third-time divorce so as to instantly divorce the marriage. To help wives in distress, most jurists of the time agreed.’
    • Shourie, Arun (2012). The world of fatwas, or, The Shariah in action. Noida, Uttar Pradesh: HarperCollins Publishers India


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