Triple Talaq verdict: What exactly is instant divorce practice banned by court?

Divorce in Islam is of three types. The Supreme Court has banned talaq-e-biddat or instant divorce.
Muslim women protesting against the practice of instant triple talaq.(HT Photo)
Muslim women protesting against the practice of instant triple talaq.(HT Photo)
Updated on Aug 22, 2017 05:50 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By

The Supreme Court verdict on Tuesday barred instant triple talaq, under which women have been divorced over email, WhatsApp and phone calls. Instant triple talaq is banned in 22 Muslim-majority countries, since it is considered theologically improper and undesirable.

‘Instant’ triple talaq is a form of divorce under Islam. “Talaq-e-biddat (instant divorce) is manifestly arbitrary which allows a Muslim man to break down marriage whimsically,” the majority view of the bench said.

“It cannot be considered as integral part of personal law and cannot have constitutional protection. It is against Quran and violates the Shariat,” it said.

Under Islamic law, there are three types of divorce: Talaq-e-Ahsan, Talaq-e-Hasan and Talaq-e-Biddat.

Talaq-e-Ahsan is the most ideal way of dissolving a marriage. ‘Ahsan’ means best or most proper. Under Talaq-e-Ahsan, the husband must pronounce divorce in a single sentence when the wife is in a state of ‘purity’, that is, not menstruating.

The wife has to observe a period of iddat , a period of waiting and abstinence, after talaq is pronounced. The iddat period is three monthly courses for menstruating women and in case of pregnant women, till the time of delivery.

If the couple resumes cohabitation or intimacy, within the period of iddat, the pronouncement of divorce is treated as having been revoked. Therefore, ‘talaq-e-ahsan’ is revocable. Conversely, if there is no resumption of cohabitation or intimacy, during the period of ‘iddat’, then the divorce becomes final and irrevocable, after the expiry of the iddat period.

Under Talaq-e-Hasan, which is a ‘proper’ way to divorce but not as good as Ahsan, the husband pronounces talaq three times spread over three monthly courses.

After the first pronouncement of divorce, if there is resumption of cohabitation within a period of one month, the pronouncement of divorce is treated as having been revoked.

The distinction between ‘talaq-eashan’ and ‘talaq-e-hasan’ is, that in the former there is a single pronouncement of ‘talaq’ followed by abstinence during the period of ‘iddat’, whereas, in the latter there are three pronouncements of ‘talaq’, interspersed with abstinence.

Talaq-e-biddat, which has been banned by the Supreme Court today, is considered undesirable and a ‘sinful’ in Islam, yet considered valid under Sharia law. This kind of instant divorce is not the norm within Islam, but a rarity.

Biddat means sinful innovation – this form was introduced by Ommeyad kings in order to circumvent the law. Under this form of divorce, the husband pronounces talaq thrice in one sitting. Divorce is instant and becomes irrevocable immediately when it is pronounced, irrespective of iddat. Thus, once pronounced, it cannot be revoked.

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