The Supreme Court’s verdict on instant triple talaq has elicited a wide range of responses from within and outside the Muslim fold. While some of these responses betrayed sinister political and confessional motives, such as the congratulatory tweet from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the defiant statement from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, others expressed genuine appreciation for bringing a (legal) end to an obnoxious practice. Unlike in the case of the Shah Bano verdict in 1986, a significant number of Muslims came forward to welcome the verdict. Equally important, the opposition from sections of the Muslim community has been much less vehement than in 1986, partly because of the change in the political climate in the country.
There are three factors common between the Shah Bano verdict and the present one. First, the honourable judges strayed into the realm of Quranic exegesis in the process of explaining their decisions in both the cases. Second, both the verdicts were primarily aimed at protecting Muslim women from Muslim men, who weaponised faith in the defence of misogyny and injustice. Three, the male leadership of the community displayed on both the occasions (following the Shah Bano verdict and preceding the triple talaq verdict) a rare sense of inter-Islamic unity against the Muslim women and their legitimate grievances. In the present case, even the few Muslim groups theologically unfavourable to INStant triple talaq, such as the Islamists and the Salafis, refused to criticise the Muslim Personal Law Board’s regressive stand. It is ironic that the only occasion on which near total Muslim unity is achieved is when the legitimate rights of the hapless half of the community are thought to be on the verge of being protected!