Of Halala marriages and the sexual exploitation of Muslim women

Published: April 24, 2017
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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, Sexuality and Women’s Studies graduate from York University. She has been nominated as a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, is a Founding Member of a Pakistani legal blog, Courting The Law, and is also the Co-Founder of The Gender Stories (TGS). She identifies as a feminist, and is currently working in Pakistan as a Publicist and as the Head of Social Media Marketing. 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.

  • Yogi Berra

    I am sure there is cottage industry in UK manned by young men to serve these divorced women. Any one knows what is the situation in Pakistan and India and Bangladesh?Recommend

  • peter pan

    Halal is just a custom developed by some WOMEN to get a bit of variety in their sex lives.Recommend

  • Asif Butt

    But then comes the controversial argument as to whether this Islamic detail provided by the writer is inline with the Sunni sect or the Shia sect ?
    Since both sects are globally considered Muslims and both sects have different practices.Recommend

  • 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

  • vinsin

    In India it should be worse, as they have zero women rights for Muslim women.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Dont like Halala change your religion instead of changing the religion. Islam is a religion not Dharma which can be changed as per person whims.Recommend

  • Asif Butt

    But who will decide which Quran has to be followed ?
    Both sects have different versions of Quran.
    I am not a religious scholar , but one may also assume that both sects have modified versions of Sunnah as well.
    ..Recommend

  • vinsin

    Well then circumcision should be banned then. Also Quran is contextual, on what parameters are you going to understand it?
    I also heard that according to Islam once all the inhabitant people accepts Islam, at that time there would be 72 sects. Is there such a prophecy?Recommend

  • Taqi

    Its wrong. He xpained it on wrong way. Islam is basicaly allowing a girl to remarry her first husbnd only when 2nd husband is died or he z wiling divorcing her but mrg with second husband on the condition of divorce is not allowed. Recommend

  • Syed Zain Jaffri

    First of all this type of image should not be the cover photo of any topic. Without anyone’s permission you are uploading such images. Shame on you.Recommend

  • MJ Zahid Zahid

    Dear Yogi . . . become Muslim and enjoy the benefits yourself.Recommend

  • NKAli

    Please read CAREFULLY the antepenultimate paragraph in the article. So, the question does not arise of Sunni and Shia traditions. SalamsRecommend

  • Yogi Berra

    That will be gross. I will rather die celibate or be “self reliant” than take dis advantage of hapless women who are sufferingRecommend

  • Yogi Berra

    Then why the need for consummation of second marriage. If your flawed logic is correct then just marriage without such condition would do. Right? That should be allowed believing that man. Think bout all this and you see absurdity of this halala and conditions. 7th century customs are not acceptable in 21st Century. Governments must intervene and ban such triple Talaq.Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    May be only among educated Indian Muslims who are clever enough and moneyed enough to take advantage of such thankful services. He will just go and marry another Muslim woman. There are just too many poor Muslim women in India… Available.Recommend

  • Ovais M

    As mentioned in the Article a very small portion of Muslims around the world believe in the concept of Halala marriage. Halala is intended to punish the man who carelessly divorces his wife. I believe that even in the western society a man would hardly tolerate her ex-wife to live with another man and then after that man divorces, remarry her. In fact there is misconception on TALAQ (divorce) issue. If one reads related verses from Quran, it would reveal that saying the word ‘TALAQ’ does not ends the relationship. But three times mean man has three-time chance to reconsider his action.I he realizes his mistake or consider consequences, he has allowed to request her not to leave and continue marital life as usual. He would suffer a small punishment by way of restraining from physical relationship for the period of her ‘iddah’. If the woman is not pregnant and she menstruates, her ‘iddah is three complete menstrual cycles after the divorce.Recommend

  • siesmann

    So what happened to the assertion that Quran has persisted in its original ?!!!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

  • Yogi Berra

    When you can not argue logically you attack the questioner. This triple talaq system must be banned. If you wanna practice go to middle east. Here law of the land will prevail and not Sharia.Recommend

  • Asif Butt

    Yogi bear when you cannot understand logic you think you are being attacked.
    A person with limited comprehension and irresponsible “murmuring tendency” like you should seek professional help before trying to argue with people like me.
    There is only one simple logical reply and I have already given that to you.
    If you start assuming all absurd things from what I said earlier just to please your twisted attitude towards religion/Islam , then thats an issue with your mental state.

    And I will practice whatever I want to practice wherever I am.
    I dont need to go to middle east or anywhere.
    People like you should keep such unwanted advice to themselves. If you have some attention deficiency issues in your life , then there are better and larger social portals where you should go and vomit your ideas.

    And please try to give some reasonable reply if you actually want to talk to me. Dont just give a childish reply like you did just now.Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    The bottom-line is Supreme court is hearing the case. The government has seized of this important matter. Soon we will hear good news. Triple Talaq will be history in India. Millions of Muslim women will be freed. They will be grateful to Narendra Damodardas Modi for ever. Jab Tak Sooraj Chand Rahega Mulsim Women Modi Ka Naam Lega!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

    Modi will rescue Sunni Muslim women from the clutches of the r Sunni Muslim men. He just rescued Uzma from one Pakistani man who falsely claimed that he married her.Recommend

  • Asif Butt

    It took so many years for such a developed and suuuch a SECULAR country like India to do something for Muslims within India.
    And like any Indian Bollywood-ised move you naturally want to make most out of its exposure.
    Since its so very obvious now that you are a non Muslim Indian , I guess you have every right to make most of it.
    Just dont get delusional by thinking its such a big favor for Muslim women.
    Doing this without addressing other aspects of Islamic jurisprudence is only another step in weakening the Islamic society for both the men and woman of India.
    So atleast your Modi’s Hinduvta motives dont fool me or anyone in my country.
    This doesnt mean I have anything against Modi. hes a good Hindu leader specially for Hindus and overall for India.
    So whats next yogi ? What will I further learn about you next time based on your highly twisted comments ?…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

  • Asif Butt

    Dont fancy yourself too much Mr Yogi.
    If you are honest doesnt mean all Hindu’s are honest.
    Now you are trying to detrack to “some other” kind of discussion.
    And no matter how honest you may be , I am super confident that I myself as a Muslim am 1000 times more honest than you , ATLEAST.
    Do yourself a favor and stop trolling sites which have the least to do with your existance …Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    Can you enlighten us about the concept called Taqqia ? What is its relationship with honesty and integrity? And be honest while answering as you purport to be one.Recommend