In a recent landmark ruling, India’s Supreme Court followed the lead of 22 Muslim countries — including Pakistan and Bangladesh — by outlawing the Islamic practice according to which a husband is able to divorce his wife instantly by uttering the word talaq (Arabic for “divorce”) three times — including by text or voice mail. The decision was not unanimous. A minority of the judges argued that banning “triple talaq” would be a violation of the Indian constitution, which protects religious freedom.
The majority of the judges nevertheless determined that “triple talaq” was actually “against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran,” and “what is bad in theology is bad in law as well.” According to the decision, the practice was in violation of Article 14 of India’s constitution, which guarantees the right to equality.
The verdict was the result of a petition filed by five Muslim women whose “triple talaq” divorces left them destitute, all because of undue powers bestowed upon their husbands by radical clerics. The verdict was an enormous relief to them, and other women like them across India. Its broader message, however, needs to serve as a road map. And a warning. In the West, the supposed dangers of multiculturalism are still regarded as more important than human rights.
In Britain, abusive practices against Muslim women are still undertaken by Sharia Councils with impunity. These practices include “triple talaq,” halala (a ritual enabling a divorced Muslim woman to remarry her husband only by first wedding someone else, consummating the union, and then being divorced by him) and iddah, a mandatory waiting period of three menstrual cycles before a divorced woman is allowed to remarry.