New Delhi: It was a
rude shock for 40-year-old Nagma Sheikh when she was thrown out of
the house in middle of the night by her husband after he
pronounced triple talaq.
Mother of a son and married for more than 20 years, Sheikh had
been seeking divorce from her husband, who was an alcoholic and
would routinely beat her. Irked by the demand, her husband threw
her out of the house.
However, her story ended happily. She was aware of the Bharatiya
Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), and contacted it.
"We asked her to approach her neighbours, and counselled them over
phone. After intervention of neighbours, who understood that it
was unjust and un-Islamic to turn her out like that, she was taken
back," said BMMA founder Zakia.
Sheikh, with help from Zakia and other activists, then followed
proper procedures and got divorce from her husband.
"The fact, however, is that triple talaq is not at all Islamic,"
"The problem however is that Sheikh knew about us, but not all are
aware of their rights," she says.
The activist, along with several other leading Islamic scholars,
has been demanding codification of Muslim personal law so that the
laws of marriage and divorce are based on Quran, and fair for
A national consultation for this purpose was Sunday organised
jointly by BMMM and leading Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer's
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism along with Institute of
The scholars say the procedure of talaq extends over a period, and
saying the word three times does not make the marriage void.
"There is a time gap of months between three steps of 'talaq', and
it includes counseling by family, discussion, and all
interventions to avoid breaking of the marriage," Zakia explained.
"Injustice is happening with women all over, men say triple talaq
and even women believe that it is as per religion," she says.
She also stresses that polygamy according to Quran is "next to
impossible" with very strict conditions.
"According to Quran, if a man marries more than one woman, he
should give equal treatment to them in terms of money, rights and
love as well, which does not happen," she says.
"Polygamy was started at a time when there were fewer men as many
died in wars, but the Quran says evaluate everything in the
context of time," she says.
The draft codification prepared by the scholars includes strict
laws on polygamy, including the assent of first wife and informing
The definition and laws of nikah, divorce and mehr have also been
proposed to be fixed.
"The mehr (or compensation paid to the woman in case of divorce)
should be equal to one year's earning of the man," she explains.
The activist adds that scholars felt the need for spreading
knowledge of the teachings of Quran along with the codification so
that people are aware about the rights and wrongs.
"The Quran protects the interest of women, but practically that
does not happen," she adds.