Over a million Muslim Indians have signed a petition calling for an end to a controversial divorce practice known as triple talaq, CNN reports. According to the practice, a Muslim man can divorce his wife simply by saying the word “talaq” three times. “Talaq” means divorce in Arabic. Now over a million Muslims across India have signed the petition that was started by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) to end the old practice.
The MRM which is the Islamic wing affiliated to the Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), started the petition citing that the practice is unfair to Muslim women. The RSS is affiliated to India’s ruling party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Sidharth Amarnath Singh, a BJP official, spoke with CNN regarding the petition and why they were calling for an end to the practice.
“For a long time when we were not in the government, the BJP had, and still has, the ideology that gender equality is a must, irrespective of religion or caste.”
Mohammad Afzal, the national coordinator of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, believes that BJP’s recent success at the elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh demonstrate that their movement is gaining traction. Uttar Pradesh has a population of over 200 million people, of whom almost 18.5 percent are Muslims. Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party won the state elections in Utter Pradesh by a landslide, winning 312 of the 403 seats in the state. Mohammad Afzal spoke about this in an interview with India Today.
“The fact that the BJP was able to get Muslim votes in Uttar Pradesh… suggest that the party and the central government need to heed the voice of the Muslim women.”
India has one of the largest Muslim populations in the world. But the Hindu majority nation is yet to ban the old Islamic practice of triple talaq. By comparison, countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, have banned the practice.
As stated by the Quran, a Muslim man must spend three months in introspection after saying the first of the three “talaqs” to his wife. This period of time must be used for contemplation and counseling, to try and work things out. Only after three months can the last two “talaqs” be said and a man can separate from his wife. But this isn’t how the law is practiced in India, with some even choosing to deliver the three words via phone.
This one chilling example demonstrates triple talaq in practice. Earlier this year, a 30-year old woman named Farah from Jaipur, Rajasthan was divorced by her husband. It started when one of her three children asked her husband for five rupees (approximately 7 cents) to buy firecrackers. Furious, Farah’s husband instantly divorced her by saying the word “talaq” three times, making her a single mother.
The fight against triple talaq has picked up a lot of traction in recent years. A judge in an Indian court called the law a “monstrosity” in 2016. He said triple talaq is “a cruel and most demeaning form of divorce.” India’s prime minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, has also been a vocal critic of the law. He has said before that India will not allow the lives of Muslim women across the country to be ruined by three words that are said over the phone.
The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), which is a network of Muslim women rights activists operating across India, have been fighting the cruel practice for many years. They have submitted an official petition regarding the matter to the Indian Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is due to make a decision later this month.
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