At a time when the entire country seems to be divided into two regarding the ban of triple talaq prevalent among the Muslim community, another Islamic custom seems to have grasped the attention of the media. The custom is known as nikah halala.
A couple of days back, India Today conducted a sting operation where they revealed how certain Islamic scholars or maulanas take advantage of the plights of divorced women and extort money from them in order to have a one-night stand under the evil norm of nikah halala, a tradition that allows women to remarry their ex-husbands.
Since this sting operation went on air, the entire country is abuzz with the condition of the maulanas whose misdeeds are now out into the open. But what is nikah halala in the first place? Is it a part of the Shariya or just a cunning interpretation of the divorce law?
In what may displease numerous patriarchs of Islam, a halala or tahleel neither makes any part of the Shariya and nor does it find a mention in the holy ‘Quran’. These are merely distorted opinions imposed on women by the guardians of the religion, who leave not a single opportunity to abuse and exploit women physically, sexually and financially.
According to the established notion, if a divorced woman wants to remarry her ex-husband, she has to get married to another person first, spend a night with him and then get a divorce to be able to remarry. This “law” of marrying a man for a night is known as nikah halala. Prevalent among numerous Islamic countries, especially in the south Asian countries, nikah halala is simply an out and out slur to women’s right and is downright derogatory. And what makes it even worse is that the Islamic scholars – the maulanas – are the ones participating in these one-night stands in order to meet their lascivious and financial desires out of a single deal.
Now, before we can delve deeper into it, let’s have a look at what Islam says about divorce:
Divorce is twice. Then, either keep [her] in an acceptable manner or release [her] with good treatment. And it is not lawful for you to take anything of what you have given them unless both fear that they will not be able to keep [within] the limits of Allah . But if you fear that they will not keep [within] the limits of Allah , then there is no blame upon either of them concerning that by which she ransoms herself. These are the limits of Allah , so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah – it is those who are the wrongdoers.
And if he has divorced her [for the third time], then she is not lawful to him afterward until [after] she marries a husband other than him. And if the latter husband divorces her [or dies], there is no blame upon the woman and her former husband for returning to each other if they think that they can keep [within] the limits of Allah . These are the limits of Allah , which He makes clear to a people who know.
This is often interpreted as: If a man decides to divorce his wife, he can do so by pronouncing talaq twice. Thereafter follows the period of iddah or separation that precedes divorce. Now, if the couple decides to end their differences and go on living together, they may do so within this specific time. However, once this period is over and the third time talaq has been pronounced, they are legally divorced and are allowed to remarry different persons. After this period, the couple can neither reunite nor get married until the ex-wife marries another man out of her free will. This is to ensure that the period of iddah was taken seriously.
Now, the ‘Quran’ remains silent on the part of enforcing coitus in the next marriage and it is perhaps this gap that the maulanas have taken advantage of and distorted to suit their own vested interests. India Today’s sting operation reveals that over time, the concept of nikah halala has just come to mean a mere one-night stand. Nowadays, there are no marriages at all – just spend a night and get a “certificate” of having undergone a nikah halala – that’s it.
Furthermore, considering the plight of hapless women in India too eager to save their marriages from going haywire, they can be made to do anything, just anything. If one does not consider the financial arrangements involved, spending a night with a religious scholar is simply nothing against the wrath of people she might have invited had she taken the divorce with open arms and decided to live alone or marry someone else. And considering the literacy rate in India, especially among the subjugated Muslim women, is she or her family left with any other choice than undergoing the “lawful” nikah halala? We don’t think so!
If a change has to be brought in our country, it has to be ushered in by the law. If the practice of Sati could be abolished back in the 1800s when our minds were steeped in all forms of superstitions, the evil practice of nikah halala can also be demolished provided the right action is taken.
It is high time for the government to truly start taking solid actions and save women from becoming prey to men’s lust on a daily basis rather than delivering long lectures on Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. What do you think?