Triple Talaq

Faiyaz Ahmed
King Khalid University

Triple talaq is a form of divorce practiced among Hanafi Muslims in the Subcontinent, under which a man at any point of time may divorce his wife by saying, “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you.”  There isn’t any such reference of divorcing one’s wife in Qur’an and Sunnah. What the text says is that there are two talaq utterances, each should be followed by a waiting period of a menstrual period for women. Thereafter talaq (divorce) becomes effective if the husband does not retract before the end of the next menstrual period.

This long period of time helps mitigate and resolve the issues between a husbands and wife. The Qur’an says that divorce is the most heinous act in the sight of Allah which He has allowed His servants. On this basis, Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, discerned that Islam is spiritually against divorce and considers marriage a sacred relationship.

There is always demand of the time. It was a sheer situational obligation that compelled Caliph Umar (RA) to pass an order of allowing triple-talaq while also subjecting such a husband to 40 lashes. Primarily, there isn’t any such command in Qur’an or reference in Hadith. Caliph Umar’s decision makes us infer that the Islamic Sharia isn’t as rigid as has been propagated.  What the Caliph did was merely a government order. If one government could decide something, so can other governments. If his decision is taken as a precedent, other governments too can take decisions taking into account the needs of society.

There’s always a scope of debate for a consensus of the jurists and scholars of the Muslim world on anything in Islam, without violating its fundamental principles.

On the flip side, the apprehensions of the Muslims of India are  justified that in the guise of repealing triple-talaq, gradually in a subtle fashion the minorities might be pushed towards the uniform civil code.