The issue of Triple Talaaq and Modi Government’s malicious plans

(Najeeb Qasmi, Riyadh)

Ever since the BJP has gained power at the centre and in different states of India, every now and then the minorities of the country are subjected to fear and harassment. By means of busying them in trivial and inconsequential matters one after another, the minority groups are prevented from treading on paths to their development and progress. During its days of power the Congress too did not leave any stone unturned in terms of oppressing the Muslim community. Still, what cannot be denied is that in order to get Muslim votes, the Congress had no other option but to attend to some of the pressing issues of the Muslim community and, to a certain extent, ensure their happiness and satisfaction. When it comes to the BJP, neither the party is interested in Muslim votes nor does it have any inclination whatsoever towards representing Muslims in the assembly or the parliament. In the recent past, the very fact that the party has, demonstrating exemplary consistence, not even once declared a Muslim candidate clearly testifies what their intentions are. Instead of putting in their creative energies in relation to progress and well-being of the country, the current ruling party is raising absolutely unnecessary issues such as cow, slaughter houses, meat shops, several state-funded madrasas, Tipu Sultan, temple, mosque, call to prayer (Azaan), loudspeaker, and Talaq. By getting into a practice of this kind, going against the cultural and civilizational ethos of India, the BJP is creating rift and hatred between the Hindus and the Muslims so as to cater to its ultimate political objective i.e. getting the votes of the Hindu community. Frightened by the results of Gujarat state assembly elections, the BJP, actively contaminating the peace and order situation of the country so that it can ensure its victory in the 2019 Assembly Elections, has put the essential issues of the country on the back burner and, demonstrating unprecedented and uncalled-for promptness, has gone against the very spirit of Indian laws by putting severe restrictions on religious freedom. The BJP has floored a Bill in the parliament that proposes severer punishment for someone who pronounces triple talaq in one go as compared to a person who actively takes part in instigating communal violence and riots. This Bill is currently in the Rajya Sabha. Acclaimed commentators and thinkers are of the view that this Bill is going to be exceedingly damaging to the entire Muslim society because, given the intentions behind its introduction and the name given to it, once it is approved, it won’t remain limited to triple talaq. Instead, in the name of protection and safeguarding of women’s rights, this Bill will directly affect many other issues such as polygamy and restrictions on number of children.

On various TV channels, media personalities and several Muslim scholars have presented the issue of triple talaq before the common people in a way that tells us that according to the Holy Qur‘an, instant triple talaq is to be considered as one and not three. However, what demands our attention is that during the reign of second caliph Hazrat ’Umar Farooq (RZA), keeping into account several political considerations, instant triple talaq was considered three talaqs and not one. Now the question that arises before us is that if it is clearly mentioned in the Holy Qur‘an that instant triple talaq is not to be considered as three but one talaq, then how on earth an exemplary Muslim figure like Hazrat ’Umar bin Al-Khattaab (RZA) could dare to ask his jurists to take a decision that goes against the clear instruction of the Holy Qur‘an. Moreover, another equally important question that arises is that among the noble companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), both of his (PBUH) sons-in law, Hazrat ’Uthman Ghani (RZA) and Hazrat ’Ali (RZA), his (PBUH) uncle Hazrat ’Abbas bin ’Abdul Muttalib (RZA) and similarly thousands of learned noble companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) such as Hazrat ’Abdullah bin ’Abbas (RZA), Hazrat ’Abdullah bin Mas’ud (RZA), Hazrat ’Abdullah bin ’Umar (RZA), Hazrat Hasan (RZA) and Hazrat Hussain (RZA) were alive. How is it possible that they did not raise their voice against this decision? What needs to be mentioned is that there is not even a single authentic book in the world that carries a negative remark or objection of any of the noble companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with respect to this decision taken by Hazrat ’Umar Farooq (RZA). In case we were to subscribe to the proposition that instant triple talaq is to be counted as one and not three, then it turns out that during the reign of Hazrat ’Umar Farooq (RZA), Halaal (permissible) was taken as Haraam (forbidden) and Haraam was considered Halaal. We seek refuge in Allah, this is not possible by any stretch of imagination.
Right from the beginning there has been a debate in the Muslim community with reference to instant triple talaq i.e. whether it will be counted as three or one. In the light of the verses of the Holy Qur‘an and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), all the four Imams [Hazrat Imam Abu Haneefah (RHA), Hazrat Imam Shafi’ee (RHA), Hazrat Imam Maalik (RHA) and Hazrat Imam Ahmad Ibne Hanbal (RHA)] are of the opinion that instant triple talaq will be counted as three and not one. In his celebrated and renowned work Sahih Bukhari, the leader of all the scholars of Hadith, Hazrat Imam Bukhari (RHA) has compiled an entire chapter in the section Kitaab Al-Talaaq titled Baab mun ajaaza talaaq Al-thalaath which means arguments in defence of triple talaq. In this chapter, ’Allamah Ibne Hajar ’Asqalaani (RHA), the person who has penned down the most famous and credible commentary of Sahih Bukhari, has written that except few Ahle Zawaahir (scholars who fully subscribe to the literal aspect of the text), the majority of learned scholars of India agrees that instant triple talaq will be counted as three and not one. ’Allamah Nawawi (RHA), the author of the most celebrated commentary of Sahih Muslim has written in the chapter Talaaq Al-Thalaath of Kitab Al-Talaaq that if a person tells his wife, “I give you three talaqs”, the learned scholars of the Muslim community have differences in relation to this issue. Hazrat Imam Abu Haneefah (RHA), Hazrat Imam Shafi’ee (RHA), Hazrat Imam Maalik (RHA), Hazrat Imam Ahmad Ibne Hanbal (RHA) and majority of learned scholars of Akhlaaf and Aslaaf are of the opinion that it will be counted as three talaqs. However, as per the opinion of few Ahle Zawaahir, it will be counted as one and not three. In 1393 AH, in one of its conferences, the ’Ulama Board of Saudi Arabia discussed at length all the aspects of this issue and arrived at the conclusion that instant triple talaq will be counted as three talaqs and not one. The exchange of arguments that took place in the conference on the issue as well as the eventual conclusion got published in 1397 AH in Majlah Al-Buhooth Al-Islaamiyah. In the decision taken in this conference it has also been duly acknowledged that as per the stance of majority of the learned scholars of Muslim community instant triple talaq will imply three talaqs, an opinion shared by the noble companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), their immediate successive generation of believers, and of jurists and mujtahideens [including (Hazrat Imam Abu Haneefah (RHA), Hazrat Imam Shafi’ee (RHA), Hazrat Imam Maalik (RHA) and Hazrat Imam Ahmad Ibne Hanbal (RHA)]. ’Allamah Ibnul Qayyim (RHA) too has acknowledged that all the four Imams agree that instant triple talaq will be counted as three talaqs and not one. Moreover, he has even acknowledged that as per the documented opinion of majority of noble companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and their immediate predecessors, instant triple talaq is to be counted as three talaqs and not one. He has also remarked that the argument that instant triple talaq will be considered as one and not three is endorsed by Shi’a and few Ahle Zawaahir (Zaad Al-Ma’ad, page no. 164).

Like many other commandments, it is not specified clearly in the Holy Qur’an when one should give talaq. How should it be given [(while wife is clean (Paak) or Unclean (Napaak) as per the dictates of Shari’ah]? How is it to be worded? And in which situation can it be given? Just the way it is in relation to Salat, Fasting, Zakat, and Annual Pilgrimage, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has explained at length the various aspects of talaq and obligations related to it. In the light of the verses of the Holy Qur‘an and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the entire Muslim community agrees that it is absolutely impossible to understand the Holy Qur‘an properly without developing an informed understanding of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). People who have floored both the opinions have certainly provided arguments from the Holy Qur‘an favouring their stance but what merits our attention is that nowhere in the Holy Book is there any clear mentioning of how many talaqs to be counted or considered in the case of instant Triple Talaq. We have no other option but to understand the Holy Qur‘an through the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and actions of his noble companions. On a general basis, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) support the stance held by majority of learned scholars of the Muslim community. The ones who stand by the second opinion refer to one of the narrations by Hazrat ’Abdullah bin ’Abbas (RZA) as their evidence. However, majority of the learned scholars of the Muslim community, on the basis of differing opinions vis-à-vis authenticity and usage of words therein, have not accepted that narration as admissible. The entire Muslim community agrees that during the reign of Hazrat ’Umar Farooq (RZA), the jurists, in a unanimous decision, declared that instant triple talaq would be considered as three talaqs and not one.

Now let us briefly but carefully look at the verses of the Holy Qur‘an that deal with talaq. In the entire Holy Qur‘an, the issue and aspects of talaq have been discussed on three occasions. In Surah Al-Baqarah, verses 226 to 242, the first seven verses of Surah Al-Talaq, and verse no. 49 of Surah Al-Ahzaab. In verse no. 49 of Surah Al-Ahzaab, it is simply mentioned that in case a woman is divorced after marriage (before the consummation of marriage), then she does not have to observe ’iddat (not marrying for a period of three months and ten days). As far as the first seven verses of Surah Al-Talaq are concerned, from the third to seventh, the commandments mentioned, in general, do not speak of anything on which there is difference of opinion (worthy of mentioning) in the Muslim community. With respect to the first two verses of Surah Al-Talaq, only on two occasions there is difference of opinion purely on grounds of understanding the Qur‘anic text. Specifically in the light of these two references, the majority of the learned scholars of Muslim community (including the renowned four Imams) have argued that instant triple talaq will be considered as three and not one. However, on the other hand, the Shia’, Ahle Zawaahir and Ahle Hadith too have used these very references to make their case. To tell the truth, no individual can ever understand the true meaning of these verses without bringing in the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). With reference to understanding the various aspects and issues related to the matter of instant triple talaq mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah, verses 226-242, other than verses 229 and 230 there is no difference of opinion that deserves a mentioning. In these verses (related to Attalaaqu Marrataan) what has actually happened is a conflict of opinion in terms of understanding the essential meaning. After developing an informed understanding of all the three verses of the Holy Qur‘an it can be said without an ounce of doubt that there is not even a single reference in the Holy Qur‘an that suggests that instant triple talaq will be treated as one talaq, something that has been wrongly put forth on TV channels through panel discussions and debates involving few Muslim scholars and media personalities. Needless to say, people have majorly capitalised through such biased documentation of the issue. Someone like me, a humble student of the Holy Qur‘an, can say this with utmost conviction that without an informed understanding of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it is impossible to discern the actual meaning of these verses because nowhere in these verses is it mentioned that when should one give talaq. Whether it can be done while wife is clean (Paak) or Unclean (Napaak) as per the dictates of Shari’ah? What is the ideal duration to be maintained between two utterances of talaq? How is it to be worded? And in which situation can it be given (a month or a year)? How should talaq be given? How it should be worded and in what situation can it be given? After developing the minimal understanding of the three verses of the Holy Qur‘an that deal with the directives on and various aspects of talaq, we must try to understand this issue in the light of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the first and ablest commentator of the Holy Qur‘an. Keeping into consideration the need to be brief, I am only mentioning three sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

First saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): In both Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, Hazrat ’Aisha (RZA) narrates that a person gave triple talaq to his wife. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was asked if the woman would be permissible for the first person (the man who divorced her)? Prophet Muhammad said, “No, not until the second husband, just like the first one, has legitimate intercourse with her.” It is quite possible that someone argues that these three talaqs were given separately on three occasions when the wife was Paak. ’Allamah Ibne Hajar ’Asqalaani (RHA), the person who has written the most famous and credible commentary of Sahih Bukhari, has written a response to this interpretation in his book Fathul Baari. He says that in this case it is absolutely obvious that it was a case of instant triple talaq which is why it is inappropriate to leave behind the obvious and make a case for the unobvious. Moreover, the chapter in which Imam Bukahri (RHA) has included this hadith refers to the stance that deals with the case of instant triple talaq being treated as three talaqs. This informs us that Imam Bukhari (RHA) too took this as a case of instant triple talaq considered as three talaqs.

Second saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): In the famous compilations of Hadith such as Musnaf Ibne Abi Shaibah, Baihaqi and Daar-e-Qutni, instance of talaq of Hazrat ’Abdullah bin ’Umar (RZA) has been recorded. He asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), “If I had given three talaqs, would it be permissible for me to take the woman back as my wife?” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “No, for in that case your relation with your wife would be severed and therefore taking her would be a sin.” The second part of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) response (it would be a sin to do so) is a clear proof of the fact that it is a reference to instant triple talaq.

Third saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): In the famous compilation of Hadith, Daar-e-Qutni, it has been recorded that Hazrat Hasan (RZA) divorced his wife Hazrat ’Aisha Khash’ameeh saying, “You leave, I give you three talaqs”. ’Aisha left the house. Later, Hazrat Hasan (RZA) got to know that ’Aisha was quite distressed by the separation. Upon hearing that he cried and said, “Had I not heard from my maternal grandfather Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that he who gives his wife three talaqs in one go or does it on three occasions, cannot lawfully take her back unless she marries another man, I would have taken ’Aisha back as my wife”.

In the end, to summarise, we can say that for ages there has been a debate in the Muslim community about whether instant triple talaq would be considered as three or one. In the light of the verses of the Holy Qur‘an and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), majority of the learned scholars of Muslim community, scholars of hadith, commentators of the Holy Qur‘an (including the renowned four Imams) have held the stance that instant triple is to be treated as three talaqs. Moreover, the entire Muslim community agrees that during the reign of Hazrat ’Umar Farooq (RZA), cases of instant triple talaq were treated as three talaqs. Shi’a, Ahle Zawaahir, and, in the present times, Ahle Hadith have held the stance that instant triple talaq is to be treated as one. In the light of the verses of the Holy Qur‘an and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), more than 90 percent of Indian Muslims, for centuries follow the stance that instant triple talaq is to be treated as three talaqs and not one, even though there are other schools of thought in the country who have absolute freedom to follow their own opinion. However, at present, the punishment that the government of India has introduced for instant triple talaq, without consulting the experts in the field of Qur‘anic and Hadith studies and against the very ethos of Indian laws, is not only a case of unwanted intervention in religious matters but also a step towards upsetting the functioning of the entire Muslim society. Therefore, not only should all of us come together on a single platform to raise our voice against this malicious bill but also demonstrate our solidarity in terms of action so that the current government does not dare to take a step of this nature in near future. Moreover, when it comes to something as sensitive and crucial as talaq, we should not indulge in hastiness. Instead, we should try to sort out the differences that have emerged between the husband and wife so that the matter is resolved. In case there is no other option but to give talaq, the person should not give instant triple talaq at any cost so that he does not run into a complicated situation. In case the person gives one or two talaqs, it too can result in separation between the husband and the wife. Moreover, what is more important is that in that case, during the period of ’iddat there is provision for the person to take his wife back and scope for marrying her again once the duration of ’iddat is over.
 

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مزہبی کالم نگاری میں لکھنے اور تبصرہ کرنے والے احباب سے گزارش ہے کہ دوسرے مسالک کا احترام کرتے ہوئے تنقیدی الفاظ اور تبصروں سے گریز فرمائیں - شکریہ