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In a big step towards gender equality, an Islamic seminary has issued a fatwa saying that a woman has the equal right to give ‘Talaq’.
In India where Muslims constitute the largest religious minority, oral talaq or ‘Triple Talaq’ is considered valid. A husband can take the decision on behalf of both, to consider the contract of marriage void and the wife is supposed to leave the house immediately. There is no place for justification, let alone reconciliation.
Many divorced women are uneducated and are left stranded, without alimony or child support at times. Some of them are not even given access to their children. Women have been fighting against this practice both in their personal lives and in the court of law. Earlier in June, about 50,000 women and men petitioned to ban ‘Triple Talaq’ and sought the intervention of National Commission for Women.
One of the recent cases that came to light is that of Afreen Rehman. She was allegedly in an abusive relationship. Her in-laws asked her to leave her home after two years of marriage. After some days, she received a letter via speed post that announced divorce. She is fighting the case in Supreme Court, questioning the method of divorce.
Similar is the case of Shayara Banu, who has filed a Public interest litigation (PIL), in court against instantaneous ‘Triple Talaq’, polygamy, and ‘halala.’ Such public interest litigations had been filed, till now by NGOs and individuals but no amendment had been made in the law. Shayara Banu is the first Muslim woman to have challenged this personal practice and has made headlines with her case.
It seems totally unjust that in a country, where every citizen is equal in the eyes of law, some women are treated like second class citizens in their own home. Divorce is a matter, that involves two people and both of them should be given an equal say in it. There have been intense debates on whether a woman can divorce her husband through ‘Triple Talaq’ or is it only the right of the husband.
In a wave of change, the Islamic seminary, Dargah-e-Ala Hazrat of Bareilly issued a fatwa, saying that a woman can give ‘talaq’ to her husband. However, she has to secure this right in her prenuptial agreement or ‘nikahnama.’ (This agreement can also be made after the marriage.) By this agreement, she gains the right to divorce her husband through ‘Triple Talaq.’ The ruling is made on the little known clause of ‘Talaq-e-tafweez’ where the woman gains her right of divorce, from her husband, in case things go wrong. The fatwa said that men and women are equal in Islam and should be given equal rights.
It is a welcomed move towards gender equality. Women who are suffering in abusive relationships or are under constant pressure for dowry, will gain the strength to take action. The power dynamics have changed and moved a step closer to equilibrium. Muslim women will surely benefit from this empowering fatwa.
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