Over the years, Muslim men in India have been allowed to divorce their wives just by repeating one word three times, even in a plain text message. However, the country’s supreme court recently determined that this custom is illegal.


Illustration Photo Credit: Sky News/Channel 2 News

India’s supreme court ruled this week that an Islamic practice that allows husbands to divorce their wives instantly is illegal. While the court’s 3-2 ruling was met with opposition from within the local Muslim community, it is considered a major achievement for the women’s rights activists in the country.   

Before the ruling, India was one of the few countries where Muslim husbands could divorce their wives within a few minutes just by saying the word “talaq” (divorce) three times. The divorce would still be legal if the man even simply wrote the word three times in a text message and sent it to his wife. The ruling was received after five Muslim women who were divorced via the “triple talaq” practice turned to human rights organizations for help.

Zakia Soman, the co-founder of the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement, stated that ruling marks a historic achievement for the women of Indian. However, she clarified that her movement’s fight for women’s rights in India is not over.

In recent years, there has been an increasing number of case where Muslim husbands have used this practice to divorce their wives, especially via WhatsApp and Skype. According to the BBC, this practice is not mentioned in the Koran or the Islamic Sharia law. The British news agency reported that Islamic scholars have even argued that the Koran specifically states that the divorce process needs to last three months.

In most Muslim countries, including India’s neighbors Pakistan and Bangladesh, the custom is banned. However, the practice became very popular in India over the years and representatives from the local Muslim community are already planning to fight the ruling.