The different types of Talaq in Muslims

Since we are discussing about the dissolution of marriage by ‘talaq’, under the Islamic law of divorce, it is imperative, to understand the concept of ‘talaq’. In this behalf, it is relevant to mention, that under the Islamic law, divorce is classified into three categories -

Talaq - is a means of divorce, at the instance of the husband.

Khula - is another mode of divorce, this divorce is at the instance of the wife.
Mubaraat - is divorce by mutual consent.

Let's understand these terms in brief -

1. Talaq 

‘Talaq’, namely, divorce at the instance of the husband, is also of three kinds 
  1. Talaq-e-ahsan
  2. Talaq-e-hasan
  3. Talaq-e-biddat

In a recent popular case of SHAYARA BANO VS UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS it was highlighted that ‘talaq-e-ahsan’, and ‘talaq-e-hasan’ are both approved by the ‘Quran’ and ‘hadith’. ‘Talaq-e-ahsan’, is considered as the ‘most reasonable’ form of divorce, whereas, ‘talaq-e-hasan’ is also considered as ‘reasonable’. It was also claimed, that ‘talaq-e-biddat’ is neither recognized by the ‘Quran’ nor by ‘hadith’, and as such, is to be considered as sacrosanctal to Muslim religion.

The popular controversy on triple talaq in Shayara Bano case which had arisen for consideration before the Apex Court, was with reference to ‘talaq-e-biddat’. The case gained country level attention and it became a hot topic in the parliament as a result Indian government introduced "The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017".

Lets try to understand the parameters, and the nature of the different kinds of ‘talaq’n -

Talaq-e-ahsan is a single pronouncement of ‘talaq’ by the husband, followed by a period of abstinence. The period of abstinence is described as ‘iddat’. The duration of the ‘iddat’ is ninety days or three menstrual cycles (in case, where the wife is menstruating).

Alternatively, the period of ‘iddat’ is of three lunar months (in case, the wife is not menstruating).
If the couple resumes cohabitation or intimacy, within the period of ‘iddat’, the pronouncement of divorce is treated as having been revoked. Therefore, ‘talaq-e-ahsan’ is revocable.
Conversely, if there is no resumption of cohabitation or intimacy, during the period of ‘iddat’, then the divorce becomes final and irrevocable, after the expiry of the ‘iddat’ period. It is considered irrevocable because, the couple is forbidden to resume marital relationship thereafter, unless they contract a fresh ‘nikah’ (-marriage), with a fresh ‘mahr’.
‘Mahr’ is a mandatory payment, in the form of money or possessions, paid or promised to be paid, by the groom or by the groom’s father, to the bride, at the time of marriage, which legally becomes her property.
However, on the third pronouncement of such a ‘talaq’, the couple cannot remarry, unless the wife first marries someone else, and only after her marriage with other person has been dissolved (either through ‘talaq’ - divorce, or death), can the couple remarry. Amongst Muslims, ‘talaq-e-ahsan’ is regarded as – ‘the most proper’ form of divorce.

Talaq-e-hasan  - is pronounced in the same manner, as ‘talaq-e-ahsan’. Herein, in place of a single pronouncement, there are three successive pronouncements.

After the first pronouncement of divorce, if there is resumption of cohabitation within a period of one month, the pronouncement of divorce is treated as having been revoked. The same procedure is mandated to be followed, after the expiry of the first month (during which marital ties have not been resumed). If ‘Talaq’ is pronounced again. After the second pronouncement of ‘talaq’, if there is resumption of cohabitation within a period of one month, the pronouncement of divorce is treated as having been revoked.
It is significant to note, that the first and the second pronouncements may be revoked by the husband. If he does so, either expressly or by resuming conjugal relations, ‘talaq’ pronounced by the husband becomes ineffective, as if no ‘talaq’ had ever been expressed.

If the third ‘talaq’ is pronounced, it becomes irrevocable. Therefore, if no revocation is made after the first and the second declaration, and the husband makes the third pronouncement, in the third ‘tuhr’ (period of purity), as soon as the third declaration is made, the ‘talaq’ becomes irrevocable, and the marriage stands dissolved, whereafter, the wife has to observe the required ‘iddat’ (the period after divorce, during which a woman cannot remarry. Its purpose is to ensure, that the male parent of any offspring is clearly identified). And after the third ‘iddat’, the husband and wife cannot remarry, unless the wife first marries someone else, and only after her marriage with another person has been dissolved (either through divorce or death), can the couple remarry.

The distinction between ‘talaq-e-ashan’ and ‘talaq-e-hasan’ is, that in the former there is a single pronouncement of ‘talaq’ followed by abstinence during the period of ‘iddat’, whereas, in the latter there are three pronouncements of ‘talaq’, interspersed with abstinence. As against ‘talaq-e-ahsan’, which is regarded as ‘the most proper’ form of divorce, Muslims regard ‘talaq-e-hasan’ only as ‘the proper form of divorce’.

Talaq-e-biddat - This is effected by one definitive pronouncement of ‘talaq’ such as, “I talaq you irrevocably” or three simultaneous pronouncements, like “talaq, talaq, talaq”, uttered at the same time, simultaneously. In ‘talaq-e-biddat’, divorce is effective forthwith. The instant talaq, unlike the other two categories of ‘talaq’ is irrevocable at the very moment it is pronounced. Even amongst Muslims ‘talaq-e-biddat’, is considered irregular.

According to the experts, there is no mention of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ in the Quran. It was however acknowledged, that the practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ can be traced to the second century, after the advent of Islam. It was submitted, that ‘talaq-e-biddat’ is recognized only by a few Sunni schools.
Most prominently, by the Hanafi sect of Sunni Muslims. It was however emphasized, that even those schools that recognized ‘talaq-e-biddat’ described it, “as a sinful form of divorce”. It is acknowledged, that this form of divorce, has been described as “bad in theology, but good in law”.

2. Khula

If there is a situations where the freedom of the wife could suffer on account of the husband refusing to dissolve the marriage, and perhaps, also treat her with cruelty. It is permissible for the wife, in such a situation, to extend some material consideration to the husband. Separation of this kind, at the instance of the wife, is called ‘khula’. In this mode of Talaq if the divorce is pronounced for the third time, between the same parties (reunion after two divorces), it becomes irreversible, until the woman marries some other man and he divorces her (or is otherwise released from the matrimonial tie, on account of his death).

3. Mubaraat

The termination of the contract of marriage, is treated as a serious matter for family and social life. And as such, at every stage where the reunion is impossible, the peaceful separation is recommended. In Mubaraat the divorce takes place by mutual consent of both parties (Husband and wife).