- Process, called ‘triple talaq’ (meaning divorce) faces legal controversy in India
- Reports emerged of men divorcing their wives via letters, Skype and WhatsApp
- Women cannot use the practice and are often left homeless and with no money
- Women in UK told to protect themseleves by registering marriage under UK law
- ‘Talaq’ has little significance in UK law so couple would have to go through court
By Ekin Karasin
An Islamic divorce practice where a man says ‘talaq’ three times to end a marriage is now ‘really common’ in the UK – despite being banned in other countries.
The process, called ‘triple talaq’, is prohibited in Pakistan and faces legal controversy in India after reports emerged of men divorcing their wives via letters, Skype and even WhatsApp.
Women are not allowed to use the method and are often left homeless and with no money – leading to many appealing to overturn it at the Supreme Court.
An Islamic divorce practice where a man says ‘talaq’ three times to end a marriage is now ‘really common’ in the UK – despite being banned in other countries (stock photo)
Islamic law suggests that the husband should say ‘talaq’ just once and only utter it a second or third time after at least three months to consider the issue.
‘Triple talaq is really common among the Asian community in Britain,’ Khola Hasan, a scholar at the Islamic Sharia Council in London, told The Times.
Ms Hasan, who said that her council deems it invalid, added: ‘The most common scenario is when the husband screams talaq three times in a fit of anger and then regrets it.
‘His family will say the divorce is valid; we advise they have three months in which to make a decision.’
Despite being prohibited in Pakistan and facing a ban in Pakistan – countries where Islamic marriages are legally recognised – it is said to be prevalent in the UK.
Islamic marriages are invalid under British civil law – meaning women have little room to leave an abusive or unhappy marriage.
It also means they struggle to defend their assets in court if their marriage breaks down.
Scholars have called on Muslim women in the UK to protect themselves legally by registering their religious marriages under civil law.
The process, called ‘triple talaq’, is prohibited in Pakistan and faces legal controversy in India after reports emerged of men divorcing their wives via letters, Skype and even WhatsApp (file photo of an Indian wedding)
If it is registered, the ‘talaq’ – meaning divorce – has little significance and the couple will still have to go through the court.
They are therefore calling for a change of the Marriage Act 1949 to ensure all religious marriages must be registered.
Currently, couples who marry in Islamic, Hindu or Sikh ceremonies are not obligated to register their marriages.
But Church of England, Jewish or Quaker marriages must be registered.
‘Significant numbers’ of Muslims in Britain do not register their marriage, according to the Muslim Women’s Network, The Times reported.
Experts advised that woman could also demand equal divorce rights in a pre-nuptial agreement.
It comes as India’s highest court began considering the legality of the controversial Islamic practice ion Thursday.
‘We told the court that the practice has no basis in the law or in the Koran,’ said Balaji Srinivasan, a lawyer for Shayara Bano whose husband split from her by writing ‘divorce’ three times on a piece of paper.
The practice has been challenged in lower courts but this collective appeal is the first time India’s Supreme Court will consider whether triple talaq is fundamental to Islam and therefore legally binding.
A panel of five judges from India’s major faiths – Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism – will consider the matter and is expected to deliver a verdict next week.
India allows religious institutions to govern matters of marriage, divorce and property inheritance in the multi-faith nation, enshrining triple talaq as a legal avenue for its 180 million Muslims to end unions.
But the right-wing Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has backed the petitioners in this landmark case, declaring triple talaq unconstitutional and discriminatory against women.
Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has long pushed for a uniform civil code to be enforced but the issue remains highly sensitive in India, where religious tensions often lead to violence.
Many Muslim groups have been critical of any attempts to meddle with religious laws, arguing it curtails their constitutional right to govern their affairs.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a grouping of Islamic organisations, told the court they opposed any efforts to change the law.
‘Triple talaq is reprehensible and sinful way to divorce, and we have spoken against it, but we want the court and government to stay off,’ AIMPLB’s convener Zafaryab Jilani said.
Some Islamic scholars say there is no mention of triple talaq in the Koran, which instead details a different process for divorce based on mediation.