• Ban on polygamy encourages illicit sex: Muslim law body

    September 03, 2016

    Explaining the reason behind the relevance of triple talaq mode of oral divorce specifically granted to husbands, the All Muslim Personal Law Board said that men are better at controlling emotions and, therefore, unlikely to take impulsive decisions.

    "Sharia grants right to divorce to husbands because men have greater power of decision making. They are more likely to control emotions and not take hasty decisions," the board said in its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in response to petitions from Shayara Banu and other Muslim women who have urged the apex court to declare triple talaq unconstitutional.

    While declaring that triple talaq was part of Islamic religious practice protected by fundamental right to religion and that the SC was barred from adjudicating its validity, the AIMPLB also launched into a vigorous defence of polygamy and said that it allows a Muslim man to have four wives, was necessary to curb illicit sex and was meant to protect women.

    The affidavit argued that the court's concern for protection of Muslim women from alleged arbitrary divorce was erroneous as their rights were protected by Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, which was enacted by the Rajiv Gandhi government to annul the SC's Shah Bano judgment in 1985.

    The board further said the practice provided an easy mode to end marriages that had irretrievably broken down. It said keeping the husband and wife together when the husband did not want the woman made the husband and his family inflict mental and physical torture on the woman.

    “It is a very private method of divorce without going to court and making public the differences between the couple and then awaiting a long process for the outcome. Court proceedings and trading of charges by the couple harmed the reputation of the woman more than that of the man, it said.

    However, the board said it was a misconception that Muslim men enjoyed unilateral and unbridled power to divorce.

    "A Muslim man can delegate his power of pronouncing talaq to his wife or to any other person. However, such delegation does not deprive the husband of his own right to pronounce talaq. A Muslim husband may delegate the power absolutely or conditionally, temporarily or permanently," AIMPLB said.

    On the practice of polygamy, the board said, "Quran, Hadith and the consensus view allow Muslim men to have up to four wives." It said Islam permitted polygamy but did not encourage it.

    However, polygamy meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women," it said.

    "Since polygamy is endorsed by primary Islamic sources, it cannot be dubbed as something prohibited," it said. "Where women outnumber men and polygamy is not permitted, women will be forced into leading spinster's life. In sum, polygamy is not for gratifying men's lust, it is a social need," the board said.

    "Women should appreciate this point that if the ratio of women is higher, would they prefer wedlock or let them be illicit mistresses of men, without any of the rights which a wife gets," it said. Citing census reports till 1991 and other surveys, the board said polygamy was equally prevalent among Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and tribals.



    The Muslim law board support polygamy because of their belief that it is for the protection and security of women in general and that Koran only permits this practice not encourage it. But they should also realise that in today’s time this practise is being fervently misused by men and causing great hardship to the opposite sex. Personal laws have always remained a sensitive topic and any attempt to question them are completely subdued. However, there should be some room to make certain amendments or changes to give equal rights to the women and be consistent with current time. 

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