Women have right to divorce: Shia Personal Law Board

Amidst the ongoing debate regarding “Triple Talaq”, All India Shia Personal Law board (AISPLB) has proposed a “modern” nikahnama” (marriage agreement), which scraps instantaneous triple talaq (giving divorce by just uttering the word ‘talaq’ (divorce!) to one’s wife, thrice in a single sitting).
This nikahnama have given rights of divorce to women. It is claimed to be a solution to the contentious issue of triple talaq pronounced by husbands which is now sub-judice in Supreme Court.
AISPLB spokesperson Maulana Yasoob Abbas said, “I have presented the ‘Modern Nikahnama’ to Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, vice-president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Zafaryab Jilani, spokesperson of the AIMPLB, for proper evaluation after which it would be adopted.”
Abbas said that both men and women have equal rights in Islam and the AISPLB tried to empower women and give them their rights. AISPLB claimed that the proposed nikahnama is in accordance with the constitution of India as well as sources of Islamic law, i.e., Quran and Ahadith.
Conditions of divorce in Modern Nikahnama
* If the husband disappears for two consecutive years and does not provide essentials for survival to the wife, she shall have the right to refer to Hakim-e-Shar’a (religious jurist) for divorce, the husband should delegate power to divorce to her in this regard.
* If the husband constantly disappears and does not inquire about his wife for months and does not provide for her essential needs and if this state continues for four consecutive years.
 * If the husband uses physical force and if his action causes danger to her life or limbs, or if he forces her to have sexual relations with other men, the husband will delegate to her the right to divorce him so as to be relieved of physical and mental torture.

Advocate Zafaryab Jilani said, “We will only consider the new nikahnama after getting it reviewed by the 35 women members of the board. We welcome suggestions and will discuss them”. Maintaining the stand of the AIMPLB of not scrapping triple talaq completely, Jilani said, “Those who misuse this can be punished and held accountable for.”

Shabnam Khan, human rights activist and head of the NGO ‘Ek Koshish Aur Abhi’ has endorsed the modern nikahnama officially while women activist Sheeba Aslam Fehmi welcomed it.

On 2 September, the AIMPLB had told the Supreme Court that the scrapping of triple talaq will increase the cases of husbands killing their wives. In an affidavit AIMPLB explained that though triple talaq is a “sin” and the “least appreciated form of ending a marriage”, but Shariat (Muslim law) permits it.

Muslim women activists had filed a petition in the SC which granted four weeks’ time to the central government to respond to petitions challenging triple talaq. Government is likely to oppose triple talaq in the court.(Hasan Rizvi)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 October 2016 on page no. 2

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