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05 May 2013

Talaq by text message? Muslim women cry foul

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Sharia law, according to some Muslim sects, allows husbands to end a marriage simply by uttering the Arabic word for "divorce" three times. But a husband must wait the mandatory three-month period before it can take effect. Electronic media have created a new dilemma that religious scholars have yet to work out.

By Udayan Namboodiri

New Delhi: Shamina Abubecker never expected her marriage would end this way.
One afternoon, the Kerala woman received a short text message on her mobile phone. It was from her husband. The message contained one word repeated three times: Talaq, Talaq, Talaq.

Under sharia law, a husband can divorce his wife simply by uttering the "three T's", although Shia and Sunni Muslims differ on whether this can be done at one go, and interpretations vary even among Sunni jurists.

Now, internet, social media and mobile phones have added a digital-era twist to the practice, leading to complaints from those affected. The message delivered to his daughter was "totally unacceptable," Shamina's father, Reshid, told Khabar South Asia.

"We complained to the imam of the local mosque who took it up with higher authorities. After a few weeks we got the fellow to apologize and re-deliver the Talaq in the formally prescribed way."

Besides being divorced via text message, some Muslim wives are now encountering "Facebook Talaq" -- the practice of writing the words on the woman's Facebook page.

"This is a global phenomenon seen all over the Islamic world. It came to the fore in India last December through a case in Bhopal," reputed Islamic scholar Mushtaq Ali Nadvi told Khabar.
In that case, the wife was an educated woman who knew her legal rights. The husband faces a lawsuit and has been arrested on charges of dowry harassment.

Besides text messaging and social media, some men have sent notification to their wives by e-mail. That is what allegedly happened to Majidi Begum, a Delhi resident whose husband worked in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

"Not being very net-savvy, my sister did not operate her email account much," her brother Imtiaz told Khabar. "When [her husband] came on leave in 2012 she confronted him and he coolly told her that he had divorced her two years earlier."

When challenged by Majidi's family, the husband produced a document that showed he had two witnesses with him while typing the three T's.

Divorce and marriage issues among Muslims are normally handled by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), founded in 1973. The country's single largest Islamic body, its membership consists of scholars representing different schools of thought.

In 2005, Shiites and advocates for women seceded to form their own separate Boards, the All India Shiite Personal Law Board & the All India Muslim Women's Personal Law Board.

Neither board has come out with clear positions on the validity of electronic divorcing. "In many cases local imams and muftis support this practice out of sheer ignorance or lack of understanding of the Qur'anic injunctions," Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (Muslim Women's Movement of India) convenor Saifia Akhtar told Khabar.

Some scholars insist the Talaq rule predates Islam, and has its origin in ancient Arabian societies, in which a husband had the power to divorce a wife for any reason, and at any time he wished.

"This practice of the Jahiliyya (Days of Ignorance) is still followed among the Muslims of South Asia who divorce their wives by pronouncing triple Talaq in one sitting, often on flimsy grounds," Indian Islamic scholar Sohail Arshad of New Age Islam magazine told Khabar. "Recently I saw a case where a woman was given Talaq because she suffered from poor eyesight."

(Courtesy: Khabar South Asia)

2 comments:

  1. This is the ugly side of Sharia, unfortunately, Muslims in South Asia have to live with this non-sense. Muslims in US and Canada stick with the civil laws of the nation, which are more Islamic than this Sharia practice.

    Mike Ghouse
    www.ShariaLaws.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Mike
    Can you enlighten me on Civil Laws in US and Canada

    ReplyDelete