Why Triple Talaq, Notorious Option of Unilateral Divorce By Men, is in Fact Anti-Islamic

Triple Talaq
Muslim women in India protesting against Triple Talaq; Copyright PTI

Triple Talaq, the “right” to instant divorce by Muslim husbands as mandated in Sharia law, violates the Quran and the Prophet Mohammad.

We Muslims need to start by understanding this fact – even if a husband does not instantly divorce his wife, as the custom of triple talaq allows him to do his “right” to do so is violence against her.

The Sharia law of “Triple Talaq,” or “instant divorce by Muslim husbands,” is anti-Islamic for four reasons. (1) It insults and ruins Muslim women by virtually enslaving them in the clutches of their husbands, (2) it violates the Quran on 3 counts, (3) it violates the Prophet’s sayings according to most authentic (Sahi) Hadiths, and (4) it disgraces Islam. Sadly and wrongly, this brutal Sharia law is established as “Allah’s Law”. We will soon see why it is just the opposite.

WHERE DOES SHARIA LAW CLAIM THIS COMES FROM?

Here is the Sharia law of divorce from the most authentic Hadith and Hadith analysis:

  1. “Effective number of utterances corresponds to whatever number utterances he has in mind, twice or thrice, at that instant is effective.”[1]
  2. “The number in the husband’s mind or signs made with his fingers determines the number of divorces.”[2]
  3. “Final divorce takes place if a husband utters Triple Talaq to his wife with one sentence at one time or with separate sentences in different times.”[3]
  4. “If someone takes such a step then this shall effectively lead to final Talaq,  this cannot be renounced and there shall be no way for renewal of marriage.”[4]
  5. Triple Talaq is legitimized even under compulsion, intoxicants, and in jokes.[5]

According to Sharia law, after a divorce, a wife can be remarried to her previous husband only after (1) she marries another man, (2) consummates her marriage with him, and (3) the new husband divorces her without any compulsion.[6]      Now let us turn to the Quran and Prophet. 

WHAT DOES THE QURAN ACTUALLY SAY?

The Quran nowhere, even remotely, sanctions instant divorce. Rather, in Chapters 2:229 and 65:1, 2 it stipulates (A) a process of divorce that takes at least two months to complete, (B) to keep two witnesses of the divorce and (C) a counting period for the wife for a divorce to be finalized.[7]   The Sharia law of Triple Talaq violates all of the above.

  • According to 2:229 the husband can cancel the divorce within two menstrual cycles. In many cases of Triple Talaq, the husbands repent and claim that the utterance was a slip of tongue, they did not really intend it, etc. But this law robs them of the right to change their decision, a right that the Quran gave them.[8] It also violates the Prophet’s statement that divorce is not valid under a fit of anger, see in the PROPHET section bellow.
  • Normally, Triple Talaq takes place in rage expressed by utterance, phone call, text message or in a voicemail, in absence of any witnesses. The Quran asks for two witnesses to complete the divorce.[9] But Sharia violates the Quran by this law: – “Keeping witness is not a condition for a husband to divorce his wife.”[10]

THE PROPHET’s OWN PRONOUNCEMENTS

The Prophet used to get furious with the use of the triple divorce and decided that it could instead be treated as the normal form of divorce already laid down i.e, one talaq

  1. Sahi Muslim – Chapter 2: Pronouncement of three divorces (triple Talaq).
  • Book 009, Number 3491:

Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) reported that the (pronouncement) of three divorces during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and that of Abu Bakr and two years of the caliphate of Umar (Allah be pleased with him) (was treated) as one. But Umar b. Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) said: Verily the people have begun to hasten in the matter in which they are required to observe respite. So we had imposed this upon them, and he imposed it upon them.

  • Book 009, Number 3492:

Abu Sahba’ said to Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them): Do you know that three (divorces) were treated as one during the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him), and that of Abu Bakr, and during three (years) of the caliphate of Umar (Allah be pleased with him)? Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) said: Yes.

  • Book 009, Number 3493:

Abu al-Sahba’ said to Ibn ‘Abbas: Enlighten us with your information whether the three divorces (pronounced at one and the same time) were not treated as one during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr. He said: It was in fact so, but when during the caliphate of ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) people began to pronounce divorce frequently, he allowed them to do so (to treat pronouncements of three divorces in a single breath as one).

  1. According to Sahi Abu Dawood and several other traditions, quote – “when the Prophet’s companion, Rukana Abu Yazid, pronounced it to his wife, the Prophet said, “All three count as only one. If you want, you may revoke it.”[11]
  2. Imam Nasai quoted from a narration by Ibn Labid, “When the Prophet got the news of a person pronouncing ‘talaq’ thrice to his wife at the same time, [Prophet] was agitated and said, ‘Are you mocking God’s Book, when I am still around?”[12]
  3. “According to Sahi Nasai, after hearing a companion pronounce talaq thrice at the same time to his wife, the Prophet stood up in anger and said, ‘are you mocking at God’s Book even though I am still around?”[13]
  4. “During the time of the Prophet, Caliph Abu Baker and early days of Caliph Omar, three utterances of talaq at one time were counted as ONE. Omar proceeded to impose such a rule (of instant divorce).”[14]
  5. The Prophet said that divorce under anger or intoxicant is illegal – Sahi Abu Dawood – 2193.
  6. “Many years after the death of the Prophet a new form of divorce made its appearance as an innovation (Bid’ah). The husband utters Triple Talaq conveys it to the wife in writing. This form of divorce leaves no room for reconsideration and repentance. When ignorant people do it they commit a heinous sin against the precepts of the Shariah. The Holy Prophet has very severely denounced this practice.”[15]
  7. It is important to note that Hz. Omar (R) also passed a law to punish the husbands (who uttered Triple Talaq) with 80 lashes[16].

But I did not find that punishment for the husband in any Sharia law book.

  1. World-renowned and award-winning Islamic scholar, Asghar Ali Engineer, says that this law has been recorded In Hanafi and Shafi’i law, but it is a pre-Islamic practice.[17]

Supporters of this custom, who also claim it is rooted in the Prophe’s teachings, often cite the case of companion Uwaimir where the Prophet allowed instant divorce – (Sahi Bukhari Vol 6 -269). But what they miss is that the context was Uwaimir’s specific accusation of adultery against his wife without proof. That is why the Quran prescribed a second process of divorce called “Leyan” in adultery cases – Quran chapter Nur 6 – 10. In this case the husband accused his wife of adultery but he had no proof and the wife denied it. Both are asked to take oath and claim to be true. If they comply then the marriage is immediately dissolved. However, this Sharia law is long obsolete, like the laws of slavery and Islamic tax on non-Muslims. These laws are not practiced anymore and thus have no impact on human life.

So we see Leyan is necessarily involved with accusations of adultery without proof and completely different from the practice of Triple Talaq that we see in Sharia books and present reality. Other references in support of Triple Talaq are either blurry or weak, and do not conform to justice, women’s rights, or the clear examples against it as shown above.

IT IS TIME TO LEAVE THIS CUSTOM BEHIND

Many Muslim-majority countries ((Bangladesh, Pakistan, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Cyprus, Sudan, and Indonesia) have already outlawed this form of unilateral divorce. It is also illegal in Zafri (Shia) Sharia. But it still frequently occurs in India. The Indian supreme court passed a decree against it in a case and the lower house of the Indian parliament passed a bill against it. If it is passed in the upper house, then it will be enacted as Indian law. But the Indian Islamic leaders of AIMPLB (All India Muslim Personal Law Board) are trying their best to protect this notorious and misogynistic custom.

It seems that our conscience has became too constipated to realise the injustice and brutality of Triple Talaq on our own women. We are beholden to comprehend the insult and pain of the countless victims of it! Even if she is not divorced, she lives a vulnerable life with the possibility of losing her home right after the marriage, or after living her whole life to build her home, after giving birth to children, and after taking care of the home day and night.  We betray Islam by claiming such injustice as Islamic. Lest we forget, God’s soldiers never pay heed to the screams of pain from victims. That is why the best way to stop them is to bring solutions from the same scriptures so that they become acceptable to believers.

It is possible to defeat the barbaric law of ‘triple talaq’ legitimised by Sharia through references from the Quran and Prophet (s).

This article is related to the larger subject of Sharia law’s validity in Islam, that the author has dealt with in – “How Sharia-ism hijacked Islam: The Problem, Prognosis and Prescription

[1] Reliance of the Traveller (Umdat Al Salik – Shafi’i Law 5.N.3), translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Amana Corporation, (Revised edition, 1997).

[2] Hedaya the Hanafi Law 81. This is the textbook selected by the Council of Legal Education for the examination of the students of the Inns of Court to qualify for the English Bar in England.

[3] Codified Islamic Law, (Vol. 1), Law # 351.

[4] Tafseer of the Quran by Mawlana Muhiuddin Khan, page 128.

[5] Deen Ki Bate (Bangla translation) by Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, pages 251 and 253, “Sharia the Islamic Law by Dr Abdur Rahman Doi, page 174.

Tafseer of the Quran by Mawlana Muhiuddin Khan, page 131.

[6] “Islamic Laws” by Ayatollah Sistani Law# 2536, Hanafi law Hedaya page 81, Shafi’i law Umdat Al Salik 7.N.7, Quranic Tafseer page 126 by Muhiuddin Khan, Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Law# 1543etc.

[7] Quran 2: 229, 65: 1 & 2.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Quran 65:1 & 2. See also Sunan Abu Dawood, Book 12, Number 2181.

[10] Codified Islamic Law, (Vol. 1), Law# 344.

[11] Mawlana Wahid Uddin, Woman in Islamic Shari’ah 109, Goodword Books, (2001).

[12] Mawlana Muhiuddin, Quranic Tafseer 127.

[13] Sharif Chaudhry, Women’s Rights in Islam 51, Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, (Reprint edition, 1991).

[14] Maulana Wahid Uddin, Woman in Islamic Shari’ah 109, Goodword Books, (2001).

[15] Dr. Abdur Rahman Doi, Sharia: The Islamic Law 179, Ta Ha Publishers, (1981).

[16] http://Hudud.systemoflife.com/fiqh/talaq/203-the-issue-of-triple-talaq#ixzz4kkP4qQke

[17]Asghar Ali Engineer, Rights of Women and Muslim Societies 48, available at http://Hudud.sociolegalreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Rights-Of-Women-And-Muslim-Societies-Asghar-Ali-Engineer.pdf.

About Hasan Mahmud 1 Article
Hasan Mahmud is a member of the advisory board of World Muslim Congress.This article is a shortened version of the related chapter of his book “How Sharia-Ism Hijacked Islam, the problem, prognosis and prescription” available at https://www.amazon.com/How-Sharia-ism-Hijacked-Islam-Prescription-ebook/dp/B075BDSSG1. As the general secretary of The Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow which is conducting a successful grass root movement in Bangladesh – Radical Free Villages, he is a veteran activist, speaker and author of articles, books and Docu-Movies against radical islam.

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