By Sushant Pathak and Jamshed Adil Khan
August 16, 2017
As awful as that may sound, a number of
religious scholars are offering themselves up for one-night stands with
divorced Muslim women trying to save their marriages under a disputable Islamic
law, an India Today investigation has found.
They charge anywhere between Rs 20,000 and
Rs 1.5 Lakh to participate in Nikah Halala, a controversial practice that
requires a woman to marry someone else, sleep with him and get a divorce again
in order to be able to remarry her first husband under personal laws, the probe
India Today's investigative team has blown
the lid off the taboo tradition that has remained largely unnoticed amid
intense debates over triple Talaq on the media and in the country's top court.
The probe found many Islamic scholars
putting themselves up on sale for women desperate to restore their broken
At a restaurant in Ghaziabad, the
undercover team first met Mohammed Nadeem, an imam at Madina Masjid in
Moradabad's Lal Bagh neighbourhood.
Married Clerics Ready for One-Night Stand
The cleric, the investigation found, was
already married. Still, he negotiated his role-play as a husband for a night
with India Today's reporters posing as relatives of a divorced Muslim woman.
"Will your wife object to it?"
asked India Today's reporter.
"No, no. She won't have any
objection," imam Nadeem replied.
"Have you spoken with her?"
prodded the reporter.
"No, I haven't spoken with her. I
haven't told her. What's the need to tell her?" Nadeem shot back.
The Moradabad imam admitted he had
officiated several Nikah Halala marriages before. This time, he proposed a
package deal for the entire service, including sex.
"It's Rs 1 Lakh," he demanded.
Imam Nadeem guaranteed issuing divorce after spending a night with the bride
for her to become eligible to go back to her first husband in accordance with
the personal law.
The business of one-night grooms is
widespread, the India Today investigation observed.
At Delhi's Jamia Nagar, the team met Zubair
Qasmi, a qualified Maulana married with two wives. He nominated himself up for
a third at the prospect of Nikah Halala, in exchange for money.
"I spend many nights out. It's much
easier to manage this with two (wives). One would think I am with the second.
And the second would think I am with the other. It's not at all difficult with
two (wives)," he bragged.
Zubair Qasim based his fee on Mehr - money
or gift the groom pledges to his bride during Islamic marriages.
"Don't worry about anything. I'll make
every arrangement. If Rs 30,000 is set as Mehr, it will be either 40,000 or
50,000 (in return for participation in Nikah Halala). No problem in it,"
The rot runs deep.
Next, India Today's investigative
journalists visited Mohammad Mustaquim of Delhi's Darul Uloom Mahmoodia
Educated in Islamic studies, he was keen to
do what he had done several times before -- sleeping with divorced women to
consummate Nikah Halala.
"There was a woman in the room. I went
there and had sex. Before leaving at 2-3 am, I divorced her," he
No Formal Marriage Needed?
Mohammad Mustaquim performed Nikah Halala
even without formal marriage.
"So you have taken part in three Nikah
Halala. You actually married on one occasion, right? The other two Nikah Halala
were without marriage," the reporter asked.
"Without marriage," he admitted.
"After sleeping with her, I left at 1 am."
Mustaquim's fee for this service included
donation for his madrasa. "You'll have to pay Rs 20,000 for the madrasa. I
am ready to do it for whatever amount. I have done it several times
before," he said.
As India awaits the Supreme Court's
judgement over triple Talaq, the dangerous trapdoor of Nikah Halala remains
wide open for divorced Muslim women, the probe noted.
The Role of Clerics
In some cases, potential deals were found
to be brokered by clerics themselves.
At Bulandshahr's Til Gaon, imam
Zahir-ul-lah of Mewatian Masjid introduced India Today's undercover reporters
with a prospective groom for Nikah Halala.
Arif, the groom-to-be, was quick to boast
about his masculinity despite his old age.
"My programme is all set, today,
tomorrow or the day after. I am always fit 24x7, Masha Allah!" he
remarked. His price: Rs 25,000 for a night.
In western UP's Hapur district, the team
next met Mohammed Zahid, who runs a madrasa at Sikheda village.
He marketed his services for Nikah Halala
as a professional.
"We'll see to it. We have the men. It
will be done through them. If you don't trust them, I am always available for
it," he said.
"How much money in total would you
like us to organise for you?" asked the reporter.
"Between 1 Lakh and 1.5 Lakh," he
answered. "Not above Rs 1.5 Lakh and not less than Rs 1 Lakh."
Hindu, Muslim Leaders React Sharply
Rising above their political differences,
Hindu and Muslim leaders called Nikah Halala a criminal act after India Today
broadcast its investigation.
They demanded that the perpetrators should
be prosecuted for rape.
"This is lust. It's not permissible in
Islam. This is a criminal offence committed in the name of religion," said
Maulana Maqsood-ul-Hasan Qasmi, the head of the Imam Council of India.
"These people should be thrown out of the mosques. They should be
Zafar Sareshwala, chancellor of the Maulana
Azad National Urdu University, blamed personal laws for certain regressive
practices in Islam.
"These people should be put in jail
and charged with rape," he said, demanding strong action against men
participating in Nikah Halala for one-night stands. "I think the genesis
of the problem lies in the Shariat Act of 1937," he insisted. Authors of
the personal laws, he added, had been "millions of miles away" from
the teachings of Islam.
Maulana Ansar Raza of the Gharib Nawaz
Foundation called for immediate ex-communication of religious scholars offering
themselves for nikah halala. "They should be beaten with shoes and thrown
out of mosques. They should be charged with rape. Nikah halala is a regressive
un-Islamic practice," he said. "I salute India Today for this
In his comments, BJP spokesman Gaurav
Bhatia, himself a lawyer, underscored the need for abolishing nikah halala like
the sati practice in Hinduism. "Nikah halala and polygamy, as triple talaq
are regressive. Sati is abolished. So should be these practices," he said.
"India Today's expose will help the civilised society to come forward for
human rights and dignity."