Personal laws pertaining to divorce and marriage
are anchored in religion in India. After striking down instant triple talaq
, the Supreme Court is now looking at the practice of Nikah Halala and polygamy
in the country. It is said that this rule, Nikah Halala, was established by the Prophet himself but, there is no such thing as Nikah Halala in Islam or mentioned in the Quran. It is a word coined by Muslim men for their convenience and has been followed by a small part of the Muslim community.What is Nikah Halala then?
Nikah Halala is a practice meant to curb the incidence of divorce, under which a man cannot remarry his former wife without her having to go through the process of (temporarily) marrying someone else, consummating it, getting divorced and observing a three-month separation period known as iddat.
The opposite of the word haram, which means forbidden, is halal, that which is permissible. In Islam, ‘Halala’ is a term that finds its roots in ‘halal’ that translates to something that is permissible, and therefore ‘lawful’. In the context of marriage then, it means that a divorced woman can become ‘halal’ (lawful) for her husband again after Nikah Halala is complete.
As remarriage was encouraged, once the three-month period of iddat or waiting is complete, she could marry anyone else she wanted. These were conditions put in to protect, not exploit, women.What does Quran Say about Nikah Halala?
There are only two verses in the Quran which talk of polygamy in the Surah Nisa, verses 3 and 129. Both are in response to a specific situation and set many conditions.
In the 7th century, when many wars were taking place, and there were many orphans and widows, verse 3 recommended that men could marry the female orphans under their care if they felt they couldn’t act equitably towards them otherwise, with the rider that if you could not treat them with equal fairness, then marry only one. Thus polygamy was allowed only if they could treat wives equally and verse 129 clarified, “It will not be within your power to treat your wives with equal fairness, however much you may desire.”
Nowhere does the Quran give complete freedom for Muslim men to indulge in polygamy. Forgetting or ignoring the conditions the Quran laid down, men continue these practices on their own whims and fancies.
Even though there are so many rights to protect citizens in India, Muslim women are demanding equality and justice in the country. Article 14 guarantees equal rights to all citizens, Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and Article 25 says that religious freedom is subject to fundamental rights. Still, the women in India have to fight against such an absurd practice like Nikah Halala in the supreme court
. Abolishment of these abhorrent ant anti-Islamic laws are really the need of the hour as it is not only disrespecting the women but also it is safeguarding evil in the name of religion.