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A Muslim couple in India has been told by local Islamic leaders they must separate after the husband "divorced" his wife in his sleep, the Press Trust of India reported.
Sohela Ansari told friends that her husband Aftab had uttered the word "talaq," or divorce, three times in his sleep, according to the report published in newspapers Monday.
An couple is seen in Bhopal, India February 14, 2005. [Reuters]
When local Islamic leaders got to hear, they said Aftab's words constituted a divorce under an Islamic procedure known as "triple talaq." The couple, married for 11 years with three children, were told they had to split.
The religious leaders ruled that if the couple wanted to remarry they would have to wait at least 100 days. Sohela would also have to spend a night with another man and be divorced by him in turn.
The couple, who live in the eastern state of West Bengal, have refused to obey the order and the issue has been referred to a local family counseling center.
India's minority Muslim population is governed by Islamic personal laws on issues such as marriage, divorce and property inheritance.
"This is a totally unnecessary controversy and the local 'community leaders' or whosoever has said it are totally ignorant of Islamic law," said Zafarul-Islam Khan, an Islamic scholar and editor of The Milli Gazette, a popular Muslim newspaper.
"The law clearly says any action under compulsion or in a state of intoxication has no effect. The case of someone uttering something while asleep falls under this category and will have no impact whatsoever," Khan told Reuters.