A few weeks ago, I told my mom that they are discussing about banning Triple Talaq(TT).
She told me - that’s great, now a man need not pronounce the words before abandoning his wife!
I was out of my wits. I wouldn’t be able to put it better than she did. This highly politicised battle of TT doesn’t make much sense, if you live in an educated Muslim family away from the gutters.
There is one thing that’s common to all religions. That your religion assumes a particular shape that’s tailor made for your socio-political condition.
The scriptures, the dictums and the belief systems all could be the same for you and your neighbor, but in practice, your socio-political condition dictates how your religion is manifested.
In my locality, the Mahal (the Islamic equivalent of a Parish) would refuse to condone Talaq if it’s pronounced in one go. One will have to pronounce first Talaq, stop interacting with the bride and wait for the family to intervene.
If the intervention doesn’t work out, he pronounces second Talaq and sends her home. Talks continue and only if this fails that he pronounces third Talaq and the divorce is complete.
But this of course is the law followed here. Crux of the matter is that it varies greatly across different areas. Things change a lot according to the place (Mahal) we are talking about. The people, their culture etc influence the procedure greatly.
And in practice, it’s application leads to different effects in different people. Sometimes, divorce is practically impossible. At certain places, it’s as easy as disposing off a puppy or a kitten.
But this form of TT wasn’t presented in front of the SC. The form that was presented was the one followed by a sect inside Hanafi Muslims that legitimise pronouncing TT in one go. The Muslim Waqf Board might want to believe that they are one true group that help all Muslims reach heaven, but clearly a lot of voices within the community recede from this position. This is definitely a tight slap on the face of people who wanted to defend this regressive practice.
Perhaps, it could be argued that this shatters the confidence of Muslims. But this is untenable. The political angle given is indeed dangerous to the integrity of the nation, but that cannot to cited as a reason to delay this reform.
In other words, the possible profiteering by BJP cannot be cited as a reason to change this judgement. The judgement once again makes clear the nature of our Secularism - that every one is free to practice their religion as long as it doesn’t tamper with the rights and dignified existence of its citizen.
Perhaps, it might bite the BJP more, that the practice beef eating, something they want banned, is protected by the Constitution in same letter and spirit by which it bans TT.
While my mind stands with for Uniform Civil Code, the right to personal religious laws are an historic right granted to all our citizen by our Constitution. We can make sure that these laws are compliant with the constitutional rights, but we can’t repeal them and force a UCC unilaterally.
We need to get their confidence and approval before we proceed to UCC. Discussion and Debate is the way forward.
Now let’s come back to TT. How does it affect the girl?
If the girl is educated or is from an affluent family, her family and perhaps the dowry paid acts as strong dampeners and in most cases, she is saved from atrocities.
But if the girl doesn’t have these social capital, she is condemned to suffer; sometimes for life.
So, what is the meaning of this SC judgment pronouncing TT unconstitutional? The practice itself if varied across the landscape of India. Also, the effects are varied. Does it have any meaning?
I am ready to put on a wager. If a Muslim daily wage labourer from Andheri (Mumbai) abandons his wife after pronouncing TT, there is little that this judgement will do to save her. There is very little that we can do.
But this will indeed make a difference to those Muslim women who can approach a court to safeguard her rights. So I submit that this isn’t so a religious issue, but a socio-political issue which we refuse to admit into our consciousness.
And to those educated Muslim women, they already possess a lot of cussions to save them from exploitation. Not so for the Muslim woman in the gutters. And that’s the biggest irony of our society.
In matters of religion, decisions like these make small difference. No doubt, the court order was a tight slap on the faces of people who defended the archaic practice. But it doesn’t do ANYTHING to women empowerment as our honourable PM stated. Perhaps he scored the political browny points, but how he hurt the Muslim community which doesn’t really comprehend meaning of this judgement is beyond words.
The true empowerment of Muslim women and for that matter women from every religion lies in education and skill building. Men have for long denied access to them to these endeavours that it has become hard for them to compete.
These shackles have to be broken first. While this judgement is historic for its face value, it contributes nothing to women empowerment. For that, we need education and skill building.