Muslim men in India can no longer divorce their wives by saying “talaq” three times after a new bill was passed last week.
In Islam, when a husband utters the word “talaq” three times he instantly divorces his wife.
There is a difference of opinion among the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence on how many times the word “talaq” has to be said to actually constitute a divorce, as well as differences on whether or not the husband’s temperament and mental state should be taken into consideration.
“Talaq” being written on paper, email or text message can also constitute as a divorce according to some interpretations of Islamic law.
India’s right-wing government has now made what it describes as “instant divorce” a criminal offence, punishable by up to three years in jail.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi managed fast-track the bill through despite resistance from opposing parties.
He tweeted: “An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history.
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“Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!”
“Triple talaq” as its commonly referred to in India was first declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2017 after a number of Muslim women petitioned against it.
They argued that the unilateral power of Muslim men to divorce their wives violated India’s constitution by infringing on their fundamental right to equality.
The law will come into effect after receiving formal approval from the president later this week.
Besides imprisonment and a hefty fine, the law will also require Muslim men to financially support their wives, who will also get custody of their children.
India currently has no uniform civil law for divorce, marriage and property.
The constitution allows adherents of every faith to use their religious laws to govern such disputes, including 180 million Muslims, the largest religious minority in the predominantly Hindu-dominated country.
The ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been consistently pushing for a uniform civil code to be enforced in India.