Triple Talaq: Examining Faith by Salman Khurshid is one of the most controversial books we currently hold in our catalogue, and the subject matter itself couldn’t be much more controversial, either in India or the West. Nevertheless, the book represents an important contribution to the place of Islamic theology and tradition in mainstream politics and its intersection with Western ideas of personal liberty – whether or not you agree with the author’s position. Although Khurshid’s opinion isn’t popular in contemporary India – and is even less so outside the country – it is at least soundly argued, and the author deserves to be given a platform.
Title – Triple Talaq: Examining Faith
Author – Salman Khrushid
ISBN – 9780199487400
Price – £6.00
The book centres on a recent and ongoing controversy in the Indian Parliament about the Islamic practice of ‘Triple Talaq’ – or instant divorce – which allows a Muslim man to immediately divorce his wife by pronouncing the word ‘Talaq’ (which means divorce in Arabic) to her three times. The notice can be given in writing, orally, or even by email or text.
The practice has a long history in the Hanafi Sunni School in India, dating back to at least the 16th century, but is a legal grey area under Indian constitutional law. Modern India is a secular society whose constitution enshrines the principle of human rights, gender equality and social justice, so there is an obvious issue of discrimination against women inherent in the Triple Talaq practice.
The result for many Muslim women, often never legally married according to Indian civil law, is instant expulsion from the home, destitution and even separation from their children.
A landmark ruling by the Indian Supreme Court in August 2017 ruled that the practice of Triple Talaq was illegal under Article 44 of the constitution. Of the five judges who took part in the ruling, a majority of three accepted the practice was unconstitutional. The other two admitted that Triple Talaq could be practised constitutionally, although it should immediately be outlawed by a new legal statute.
The new law followed quickly, and on 28th December 2017 the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Act (2017) was passed by the Indian Parliament. The law makes Triple Talaq illegal in all forms, with practitioners subject to criminal prosecutions that could result in jail sentences of up to 3 years for the husband.
Salman Khurshid, a senior lawyer, member of the Indian Parliament and former Minister of External Affairs, was an outspoken critic of the new law. His position as presented to Parliament, which he explains in depth in Examining Faith, is that the new law violates the religious liberty of Indian Muslims and is itself unconstitutional. Khurshid is a devout Muslim himself and is no stranger to controversy. In 2002, for instance, he represented the Student Islamic Movement of India as defence lawyer after it was outlawed by the Indian government as a terrorist organisation. Examining Faith, however, draws on Western secular legal arguments, rather than Islamic theological ones. The core argument is that the ban on Triple Talaq extends the authority of the state where it has no constitutional right to do so, by taking marriage from the private realm of civil law into criminal law.
Triple Talaq: Examining Faith is a well-argued legal work. Although it is unlikely to make Salman Khurshid many converts in the United Kingdom, the book does show the way in which social and religious controversies are still played out in modern India, all the way from the village level to the Supreme Court. There is a complex interplay of traditional, secular and sectarian legal customs at work which often sit uneasily together. These must be balanced against the dignity and rights of individual human beings.
Read the book to find out more – in the words of the controversy’s leading antagonist. For more information about Examining Faith and thousands of other quality Indian books, please call 01727 761677.
Triple Talaq: Examining Faith – 978-0199487400 – Salman Khurshid – £19.99 Hardback