Talaq via SMS, email un-Islamic, say Muslim scholars

March 15th, 2009 - 11:26 am ICT by IANS  

By Nakshab Khan
New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) It’s a quickie way to divorce that is catching up - saying ‘talaq’ through SMS or email. Former Haryana deputy chief minister Chander Mohan alias Chand Mohammed is the latest to use digital means to say talaq to his estranged second wife Fiza. But Muslim scholars have termed it “unacceptable” and say there is no concept of instant divorce in Islam.

Chand Mohammed sent a terse “talaq, talaq, talaq” mobile SMS to Fiza from London and also called her up to repeat the message Friday night.

“I got an SMS from Chand on my mobile phone on Friday in which he had written ‘talaq’ three times. Immediately after that, I got a call from him and he reiterated that he has given talaq to me,” Fiza told mediapersons in Chandigarh.

According to a study ‘Marriage and divorce amongst Muslim women in India’, conducted by Sabiha Hussain of the Centre for Dalit and Minorities at Jamia Millia Islamia, at least 15 such divorces were pronounced via SMS, email and phone in 2008.

“It is a case study of 30 divorced women conducted in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, Seelampuri and several districts in Bihar including Darbhanga, Madhubani, Gaya,” said Hussain.

Akhtarul Wasey, head of department of Islamic studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, said: “There is no concept of instant divorce in Islam and giving it through digital means has no validity.

Any divorce should only be allowed through Darul Quaza (Islamic court) or shariat panchayat, and there should be a witness from both the bride’s and groom’s sides. Divorce in absentia of either husband or wife does not hold any authenticity.”

All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) president Shaista Amber said: “Giving divorce through modern gadgets like phone, SMS or email is purely illogical and invalid.”

“This kind of pronouncement of talaq does not hold any authenticity,” Amber told IANS.

“The Quran has specifically laid down norms for ‘nikah’ (marriage) and ‘talaq’. In both cases, witness from both sides is a must. Then how can one ascertain the presence of a witness when technologies like SMS, phones or emails are being used,” she said.

“Such technologies can be misused, manipulated and doctored. Hence the Quran has never validated divorce or marriage through digital means,” she added.

“It is very sad to see people misusing and misinterpreting Islamic laws. We need to educate the Muslim community more about the sanctity of marriage as an institution,” Syed Junaid, a journalist who has studied Islamic history, told IANS.

The model nikahnama (marriage contract) released by AIMWPLB clearly rejects any divorce through SMS, email, phone or video conferencing or divorce done on provocation or by husband pronouncing talaq in an inebriated condition.

(Nakshab Khan can be contacted at nakshab.k@ians.in)

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