Of Halala marriages and the sexual exploitation of Muslim women

Published: April 24, 2017

Khola Hasan, a woman from the organisation concludes that Halala marriages are haram and forbidden. PHOTO: REUTERS

According to a BBC undercover investigation, some Muslim women in South Asian diasporic communities in England are facing exploitation, blackmail and sexual abuse via various online accounts. These accounts provide services for divorced women to fulfil the requirement of a so-called Halala marriage, in order to remarry their former spouse after they have been divorced through the ‘triple talaq’ process. Triple talaq takes place when a man says ‘talaq’ (divorce) three times in a row to his wife, convincing many Muslims that this ends an Islamic marriage immediately.

These online services let women pay to marry strangers, consummate the marriage with them and then divorce them, after which they are able to remarry their former spouse. Women are required to pay thousands of pounds to take part in these temporary marriages.

A very small portion of Muslims around the world believe in the concept of Halala marriage. However, by monopolising this practice in a simplistic manner, these services are taking away and misrepresenting the concept of Halala marriages which are stated in the Holy Quran. By doing so, what these services are doing is normalising adultery, infidelity and prostitution in the name of Halala.

Majority of Muslims strongly disagree with this practice because it is a direct consequence of individuals misunderstanding the Islamic laws of divorce. According to the Holy Quran, there is no theological basis for Nikkah Halala in Islam. As per Islamic context, “divorce is twice” after which the husband can either stay with the wife in an acceptable manner or let her go with good treatment. It is unlawful for the husband to take anything of what he may have given to her. It goes on to say that if the husband divorces the wife for the third time, then she is not lawful to him until she marries someone other than him. If the latter husband divorces her (or dies), the woman and her former husband cannot be blamed for getting back together if they think they can do justice to the relation once again (2:229-2:230).

In other words, if a husband divorces his wife by pronouncing talaq, he can revoke the divorce within the iddah, the period of separation that precedes divorce. If the divorce is completed, the couple can remarry. The couple may divorce and remarry twice. However, if they divorce a third time, they can neither unite within the iddah period nor marry again until the former wife marries another man, to ensure that the divorce is taken seriously.

As a result, the above interpretation is used as a scheme to remarry or Halala and is often justified by some as a true belief. Even according to the dated groups who follow this belief, this only applies when the husband declares divorce on three separate occasions and not three times in a row. A Halala cannot be planned in advance, since the Nikkah between the woman and the second husband with a prior understanding of a divorce afterwards will not be valid. If she does so, it will be an illegitimate relationship with the second husband and with the first husband also with whom she comes to live with after a pre-planned Halala. In fact, the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) has “cursed both men who perform Halala and for whom Halala is performed”.

Furthermore, Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri in ‘Marriage, Divorce and Re-Marriage (Halala) in Islam’, furthers this thought:

“There is no concept of Halala in Islam. This is something that has been made by some Muslims and unfortunately is now seen as part of the Shariah by some Muslims. The rule of the Holy Quran is that if a man divorces his wife for the third time in one marriage contract, then the wife cannot go back to the man unless she (genuinely) marries another man and then (genuinely) is divorced by that man… this rule should not be dealt with by pre-planned marriage and divorce.”

For people who still believe in the practice should be made aware of the fact that it is outright wrong to pre-plan a Halala marriage as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) declared Halala as profane, Hazrat Umar (RA) called it worth stoning, and Hazrat Usman (RA) considered it devoid of the trait of the Nikkah (marriage contract). Such clear verdicts prove that the various online services providing Halala are not in good or correct faith.

Additionally, the East London Islamic Shariah Council which regularly advises women on issues surrounding divorce strongly condemns Halala marriages. Khola Hasan, a woman from the organisation concludes that Halala marriages are haram and forbidden. Instead, she advises getting help or couples counselling.

Therefore, it is clear that what is happening in the UK in the name of Halala marriage and Islam is nothing but a sham and the whole idea is to make money by abusing vulnerable women. These actions are simply based on the financial and sexual exploitation of Muslim women.

Purniya Awan

Purniya Awan

The writer is a Gender Studies graduate from York University, has been nominated as a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, is a former member of Youth Parliament Pakistan and is a founding member of Courting The Law. She is a women's rights activist and frequently writes on feminist and human rights issues. She tweets @purniyaA (twitter.com/PurniyaA?lang=en)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nauman

    Yea we read the article on BBC already….you should have just shared a link rather than copy n paste.Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    Quran also specifically says Don’t divide yourself in sects. So whatever guidance is given in Quran and Sunnah we should follow that, not what is practied by shias or sunnis.Recommend

  • Asif Butt

    Dear Mr/Ms siesmann ,

    As far as The Sunnis and Shias are concerned , their respective versions of Quran HAVE INDEED persisted .
    Neither sect has doubts or controversies regarding that matter.

    But if you or anyone has sincere curiosities , then a proper Islamic scholar from both sects should be consulted .Recommend

  • Asif Butt

    Dear Mr NKAli ,

    Thanks for contributing your effort in trying to enlighten me.
    I am afraid I had already read the article , including ALL paragraphs carefully.
    And my original comment (to which you replied ) was written with an adequate amount of care involved as well.
    What you tried to imply through the “careful reading of the paragraph” does not reply to the question which I posed.
    If you read CAREFULLY what I wrote , and ask some scholar about my enquiry , perhaps he may help you understand the issue I was trying to explore.Recommend

  • Asif Butt

    You are clearly not here to seriously comment or debate over the subject.
    If you dont believe in religion then thats your life.
    For people who opt to have a religious life , a choice which is their fundamental legal right , they do not care about the opinion of people like you.

    Also if mocking Islam or any “7th century custom” is your favorite timepass , then there are many more effective places online with more people reading where you can go for your personal enlightment or fame or whatever it is that satisfies your “flawed motives”.

    And I am all ears if you actually have some sensible question to ask me here now ? Or if you have some fact to enlighten and correct me with ?Recommend

  • Asif Butt

    Supreme court ? India ? Modi ? Sooraj Chand ?
    What are you talking about ?
    Do you even know what you and I have been commenting to each other about ?
    Do you even know to what part of your views here I placed my contradiction ?

    You have finally relieved me. It is now clear to me that wasting your intellectual time in a very non-intellectual manner is perhaps a habit of yours.

    Regardless , it is good that triple talaq will be history in India. I have been following it in news and it is for the benefit of humanity , specifically oppressed Muslim women.Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    I can only say this….If Muslims do not like in India then they have freedom to go where they will be happy. We won’t stop you.Recommend

  • Asif Butt

    Finally , spoken like a true Hindu .
    Shabash my boy!
    Full points on being honest. 10 / 10 ….Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    Yes as a Hindu I am honest. But are Muslims honest? Recommend