The concept of marriage in Islam is held very sacred and divorce is looked down upon, unless absolutely necessary. While Muslims boast of a lower divorce ratio as compared to the West, there are certain aspects in a marriage which need to be discussed. Men have been given the right to divorce their wives based on the premise that they are more emotionally stable than women and will use that right sensibly.
There is a growing ratio of men divorcing their wives over a petty argument and regretting their decision later.
The reason why such cases do not surface on the mainstream media is because of lack of documentation. Divorce is generally looked down upon in the society and the couple avoids making it public because of lack of acceptance. It is mostly the woman who has the most difficult time dealing with the situation and tries to save the marriage.
What happens in cases where the couple wants to reconcile after the divorce, according to Islamic principles, is that the couple turns to the option of Halala.
When a husband divorces his wife and they want to get back together, the woman has to marry another man and consummate the marriage. If that person divorces the woman, only then can she remarry her last husband. There is a lot of debate among Islamic scholars on whether or not the practice is allowed and if it is, what precisely are the instructions related to it.
Couples become desperate after a divorce and are eager to make things right. This is where the exploiters come in.
The South Asian Muslim community in the United Kingdom is witnessing a huge rise in the ratio of women trying to save their marriages through Halala.
As a result, several imams or just ordinary men have set up businesses offering Halala services to the community.
BBC also did an undercover investigation, in a documentary called Halala: The Men Who Sell Divorce, to understand how exploiters take advantage of the situation and women as a result are exploited, sexually abused, and blackmailed.
The documentary narrates the story of Farah, a woman whose husband divorced her over a WhatsApp text. Even though her husband was abusive throughout their marriage, she still wanted to get back with him because he was the love of her life. And her husband also regretted his decision later, and knew that Halala was their only option. However, after Farah had done her research about the service and realized that several women had been exploited in the process; the decided to not take the risk for someone who was abusive and would have ultimately killed her.
This practice effects the mental health of these women and it becomes difficult for them to lead healthy married lives. However, they have to keep doing it for the sake of their families. Just like any other commodity, divorce has also become a commodity to cash in on. There are several Halala centers in London, Birmingham, and other major cities. Some clerics have opened up Halala centers in their own houses, and have hired agents to bring women to them. They also take the liberty of gifting the grieving woman to their friends.
The irony is that a woman has to suffer because of the mistake of an angry man. He will not be labelled as the one-night husband. And no one will question his dignity.
Khola Hasan, a member of the Islamic Shariah Council, believes that triple talaaq is not Islamic at all and in no way means that the marriage is over. It is a very inhumane way of ending a sacred bond such as marriage and is disrespectful to both the individuals. Her view about Halala is that it is forbidden; it is a sham marriage, infidelity, adultery, and prostitution. She preaches these views daily in her sessions.
Here’s the eye-opening documentary
Cover image via: bbc.co.uk