Title: Triple Talaq: Examining Faith
Author: Salman Khurshid
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: January 25, 2018
Genre: Legal; Theology
Purchase Link: Amazon
I don’t often read law books, but Salman Khurshid’s “Triple Talaq: Examining Faith” drew me to its interesting subject. The Islamic faith has its own set of laws, which are separately codified and exclusively followed by Muslims in India. Perhaps the most debated clause in Muslim Law is that of triple talaq or divorce.
Practice established over centuries allows a man to pronounce divorce against his wife three times simultaneously and be free of wedded bonds. There is no need for witnesses or a prolonged divorce suit that takes years and affects the person’s mental health. Unfortunately, this seemingly easy way out of a bad marriage is misused against women who don’t want to end matrimony.
Khurshid’s book outlines the landmark case of “Shayara Bano vs. Union of India” , also known as the “Triple Talaq case” whose judgment was pronounced in 2017. He offers a lucid and informed opinion on aspects of the judgment, to people not conversant with legal terminology. Khurshid is a former politician and practicing Senior Advocate, who was approached by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (the Board) to represent them in the case. Circumstances eventually led the board to a different advocate, but Khurshid’s scholarly interest was so piqued that he volunteered to assist the court in the case as Amicus Curiae (a neutral friend of the court). As such, he was a front ring player in the proceedings and provided thorough research on the subject from both a historical and international perspective.
I never knew the reason behind this apparently arbitrary method of divorce. Through the book I learnt that Prophet Mohammed introduced the concept of triple talaq as divorce that would happen over a period of at least 3 months, in order to protect the sanctity of marriage. At that time, it was easy for men to cast away their wives and the Prophet hoped this method would give the man time to rethink his actions. The third divorce pronouncement was considered final as prolonging it any further could lead to mental trauma for both parties involved.
The author, Salman Khurshid. Picture courtesy: http://www.indianexpress.com
Caliph Umar changed this practice as men began to take temporary wives from conquered areas with the promise that they had divorced their original wives, and cast the new ones away as soon as having their fill. To prevent this light-handedness, a one-time pronouncement became final and irrevocable. However, modern exigencies require a fresh interpretation of the law and Khurshid argues for returning to the original concept.
The author’s literary bent of mind is evident in his handling of this book. He succinctly outlines a vast area of theology and law, and explains it in a straightforward manner. I can’t be sure if the subject will appeal to everyone across board, but people interested in it or people who want to learn something new, will benefit tremendously.
A uniform civil code (the same law to govern all religions) for Indians has been hotly debated since the country attained independence. Though many leaders have strongly opposed it, certain sections of society feel it’s the only way forward. One can hope that by educating and spreading knowledge of various religious laws, it will happen sooner rather than later. Kudos to Salman Khurshid for taking a worthy step in that direction.
Book Rating: 4.5/5
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As a shy child and insecure teenager, books were my assured friends; but I read less with the passage of time. To stay on track, I’ve signed up for the GoodReads Reading Challenge. This year I’ve challenged myself to read 20 books (a lot less than previous years, but it’s a start!). Here I’ll review recently published books of note. All others will feature directly on my GoodReads profile, which you can follow by clicking here.
*Featured image courtesy: http://www.thewire.in