Faraz Firouzi Mandomi
A couple of
years ago I headed down to the football grounds in Sanandaj, capital of Iran’s
Kurdistan province, to watch the Kurdish Red-Blue Derby. During the match a
blue defender was sent off by the referee for a dirty tackle. The player
refused to leave the pitch however and remonstrated with the referee. Several
spectators close to the pitch meanwhile began chanting – “triple-talaq, triple-talaq”.
player had said “I will give my wife triple-talaq (instant verbal divorce) if I
am forced to leave the pitch”. Play was suspended. The whole stadium was in
uproar over the player’s verbal divorce. Should a marital union be ended simply
on the basis of this utterance by a husband?
believe divorce should solely fall to the jurisdiction of family courts and it
is not possible to end a marriage without the court’s leave. Others argue
divorce is only made valid by a Mamosta’s fatwa. The issue is further
complicated when it comes to see the prevalence of triple-Talaq as a
deep-seated habit among Kurdish men, especially those who follow the Islamic
school of Shafi’i.
triple divorce (-Talaq-I-Bid’ah) is a controversial Islamic practice
whereby a husband can end a marriage by simply saying “I divorce you” three
times. In other words, under Sharia law, husbands can unilaterally terminate
the marital bond without establishing any fault on the part of their wives –
and even in their absence. Women do not have the same power.
founders of the Sunni schools of law (Madhab), including Imam Shafi’i, agree
(ijma) that triple-Talaq is valid when it has been uttered by the husband in
three separate periods of purity (Tuhr). However, there is disagreement
when it comes to thrice utterance in one session (Majlis).
majority of Islamic jurists, including Hanafites, Malikites, and the
Hanbalites, claim that thrice pronouncement of Talaq in one setting is
innovation (Bid’ah) and thus not permissible. Contrary to this opinion, Imam
Shafi’i has unequivocally accepted the instant three Talaqs even in one phrase
to Iranian law, family relations are regulated as per the religion one is born
into. Hence, the state law, which does not allow instant verbal talaq, is not
applicable to minorities holding a Madhab other than Ja’fari. While the Iranian
personal statutes and family law are generally based on Ja’fari jurisprudence,
the recognized religious minorities have the right to regulate and administer
their family issues, such as marriage, divorce and child custody, according to
their respected religious laws.
the controversial Family Protection Law (FPL) adopted on April 8, 2012, has
confirmed the judicial autonomy of the recognized denominations. Thus, the
Iranian parliament has taken an unprecedented step in the history of Iran’s
legislation by adopting Para. 1 article 4 of the FPL. This paragraph stipulates
the validity of the decisions by supreme religious authorities for the
minorities in Iran on family issues and the fact that these decisions are
binding upon civil courts even without considering necessary procedural
competence to religious authorities, i.e. Sharia courts or council of clerics,
the FPL has raised a critical question over the competent court. In the same
way, the Iranian Supreme Court, surprisingly, also confirmed the legality of a
triple-talaq case that was decided by the Council of Clerics of Sanandaj.
to Imam Shafi’i, this divorce is considered final and ba’in (irrevocable
divorce). Ba’in means that the spouses should be immediately separated and
cannot live together anymore. If not, their relationship will be considered as
adultery. In addition, the husband does not have the right to take his ex-wife
back and the wife should leave her home of her own will.
even more complicated when the man wants to take his ex-wife back. In this
case, the woman must go through a fresh marriage (halala) with another man with
the intention of living with him and submit to a regular sexual relationship.
It is only after separation from the second husband that the woman can remarry
the first husband.
extra-judicial power given to men over unilateral divorce, any constitutional
protection by the civil courts is, obviously, a violence against women in the
Kurdish regions which deprives them of fundamental rights and affects their
utterance of triple-Talaq has long been synonymous with men’s power and wealth.
The more wealthy and powerful they are, the easier it is for them to use
most Arab and Islamic countries have abolished the practice and some countries
like India have criminalized instant triple-Talaq, the Islamic Republic of Iran
has continued to justify it as pluralism and freedom of religion.
codified human rights conventions and a legal obligation to respect, protect,
and fortify their norms. As religious groups are not a subject to international
law, the Iranian state is obliged to intervene and protect women’s rights
within minority group specialty when it comes to uncodified laws of instant
Firouzi Mandomi holds a master’s degree in international human rights law from
Allame Tabataba’i University of Tehran and a master’s degree in European Union
law from the University of Hamburg, Germany. He is now a PhD candidate in
international private law at the University of Hamburg
Headline: Islam’s triple-talaq: An endless fear of instant divorce