ISLAMABAD - The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Wednesday declared a man’s pronouncing ‘talaq’ (divorce)to his wife thrice at one point of time against the Sunnah of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and an abhorrent act in the light of Islamic injunctions, recommending it to be made a punishable act.

The Council also termed that a lady above 40 could serve as judge and decide both civil and criminal cases provided she observe veil as per Islamic laws. The CII rejected a bill regarding juvenile punishments, declaring punishments to children as un-Islamic and inappropriate. It has advised the government to reassess and draft a new bill in this regard.

The advisory body also deferred decisions on a number of other matters presented in the meeting including inclusion of sex as subject in the curriculum of schools. It recommended formation of rules and regulations to eliminate sectarianism after thorough investigation of the issue.

The Council, which had been in session for the past two days, proposed for Aug 14 to be declared a public holiday owing to the day’s paramount national substance. During his address, Chairman Sherani presented the members’ consensus that ‘Black Days’ or days of mourning should not be observed in Pakistan regardless of adversity faced by the nation.

Giving details of the decisions of the meeting, CII Chairman Muhammad Khan Sheerani said the council has recommended to the parliament to make giving divorce thrice in one time punishable act, though he said by doing so the divorce would be enacted. He explained that the decision would not be applicable to those sects which consider pronouncing of divorce thrice at one point of time as single divorce.

Citing increasing divorce rates, Sherani insisted repeating the word talaq (divorce) thrice is uncalled for and a spouse should say the words over a period of time. “Saying the word talaq thrice consecutively is against the Sunnah,” the chairman said.

He said people get divorced without any hesitation nowadays and much more care should be taken while ending such a ‘sacred’ relationship. He maintained that declaring all three instances of divorce at a single time has been strongly disliked by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

According to the Council, to remarry after first divorce, a reference would be needed and to remarry after a second divorce Nikah would be necessary. Earlier, the CII had suggested that the divorce sought by a woman would go into effect if the husband fails to respond within three months.

The chairman said it was also recommended in the meeting that a person could mediate between the couple having differences to resolve those but he (mediator) should not be authorised to facilitate enactment of divorce. To a point of quantum of punishment for breaching the law on divorce, the council recommended that it should be left at the discretion of the judge dealing with the case.

Religious scholars have termed the suggestion of the CII on divorce admirable. Mufti Naeem of the Jamia Binoria said that the shariah has given husband the authority to divorce his wife but divorcing thrice at one time is not preferable. According to Allama Tahir Ashrafi, divorcing thrice at one time is against the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH).

Denouncing instances of sectarian violence rife in the country, the CII proposed in the final session of its meeting that a code of conduct be formulated by the government to curb sectarian hostility. The council however deferred the matter for next meeting with the comments that they have to see a number of issues before giving any recommendations. The members of the council also discussed measures to promote interfaith harmony among the Pakistani people.

Ruling on women’s eligibility to be a judge, Sherani said that a woman has to be at least 40-year-old to become a judge and that too if she maintains full ‘Islamic veil’. He said that female judges should be obligated to wear ‘niqab’ adding that the veil should be observed according to principles of Sharia.