Karen Leslie Hernandez-Andrews


Professor Carol Fontaine

May 29, 2006









Talaq, Talaq, Talaq—Women Suffering In India

Because of the Misuse of Triple Talaq



There is a phenomenon occurring in India at this very moment with the use of three words that torment, create fear and are misused against Muslim women by their husbands, creating such an outcry it is difficult to not find an article in an Indian newspaper almost every day about Triple Talaq.  Triple Talaq is a form of divorce that is practiced only amongst Muslims and only the husband can say to his wife, instantly divorcing her and many times leaving her destitute.  As an example, a man, who maybe does not like his wife’s dinner, or a comment she has made to him, can utter, “Talaq, talaq, talaq,” and he will consider the marriage completely over.  However, the issue here is that the proper form of Talaq allowed within the realm of Islamic Law and that is sanctioned in the Qur’an and the Hadith, (Traditions revealed from the Prophet Muhammad), do not allow for this form of divorce.  As Sona Khan writes on the use of Triple Talaq in India in a very recent article from Express India, The Indian Express Group, “[Triple Talaq is a] social evil and not [an] Islamic practice and only continues to be propagated because of the ignorance of community leaders as well as the community as a whole.”[1][1] 

     Triple Talaq is allowed in many other countries as well—Algeria, Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Philippines, Malaysia, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Gambia, and Nigeria all recognize Talaq.  Indonesia, Tunisia, Tanzania and Yemen do not recognize Talaq at all.  India seems to be struggling immensely with Triple Talaq, and in fact, it is so out of control that husbands are even Triple Talaqing their wives by email, text message and cell phone, and women are avoiding the threat of this by not answering their phones when their husbands call.[2][2]  The practice of Triple Talaq by post is very popular in India as well.  In the book, Knowing Our Rights—Women, Family Laws, and Customs in The Muslim World, released by Women Living Under Muslim Laws in 2003, this form of Triple Talaq is explained. 

     The cultural diversity of the Muslim community in India means that Talaq       

practices differ from community to community, although ‘Triple Talaq’ is

     uniformly recognized.  Talaq by post has recently become popular.  In this

     practice, a wife is sent to her natal home where she will receive a postal

     talaqnama, which may mention the reasons for divorce.[3][3]


(For more information on Triple Talaq and issues concerning Muslim women worldwide, go to Women Living Under Muslim Laws at http://www.wluml.org/english/index.shtml.)


In many cases, if the woman has been Triple Talaqed outside her home, she is unable to go back to her home and retrieve her belongings, essentially leaving her destitute if she has no family to help her.    

     What of women’s rights when referring to divorce?  Are woman allowed to Talaq their husbands?  Or maybe the question is, does she have any rights whatsoever in her marriage?  What do both the Qur’an and Hadith actually say about divorce and in respect to women in general?  There are many factors to consider here.  When referencing the law in India which is obviously a large factor in this issue, one must remember that at one time Colonial Law ruled India, and as we will read, colonial law still affects both civil and Islamic Law in India today.  With that, colonial law also oppressed women, and the oppression of all East Indian women continues to this day as well.  And, as many are aware, Muslims are struggling all over the world at this time in history to create and comprehend a woman’s place within the religion of Islam, and how to establish her as an equal partner, not only in marriage, but in all aspects of Islam.  Triple Talaq is a cultural, oppressive form of emotional abuse toward Muslim women that is not sanctioned in the Qur’an but stems from ancient and contemporary practices.  This paper will explore the roots of Talaq, the basic laws surrounding Muslim marriages in India, what Islamic Law states about the use of Talaq including what the Qur’an and Hadith say about divorce, and what actions are taking place to ban the use of Triple Talaq in India.  Also, this paper will explore, what, if anything, can be done to insure that Muslim Women in India obtain and keep their basic human rights and the dignity they deserve. 









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[1][1] See article under NATION in Express India, written by Sona Khan, Veil of Ignorance: Muslim Women’s Talaq Trap, http://www.expressindia.com/print.php?newsid=35361, 1/22/2006.

[2][2]  See article at BBC Online, written by Geeta Pandey, BBC Correspondent in Delhi, entitled Muslim Women Fight Instant Divorce, http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/… 1/2/2006. 

[3][3] Women Living Under Muslim Laws, Knowing Our Rights—Women, family Laws, and Customs in The Muslim World, (New Delhi: India Kali For Women P, 2003), p. 265.