Islam’s View on Divorce

The purpose of marriage in Islam is to nurture a peaceful and harmonious relationship between a husband and wife ensuring that the rights of each partner is guaranteed and respected.

Unfortunately, sometimes the relationship between a husband and wife may become too unbearable. The only option available in such a situation for peace and stability to prevail between the two partners may be divorce. Although divorce is accepted in Islam, Muslims are strongly advised to resort to it only as a last recourse.

The Holy Quran informs us that divorce procedures must be completed in peaceful and respectful manners.  In Surah Al Baqrah (2: 224-237) Allah says:

And do not make [your oath by] Allah an excuse against being righteous and fearing Allah and making peace among people. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

Allah does not impose blame upon you for what is unintentional in your oaths, but He imposes blame upon you for what your hearts have earned. And Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.

For those who swear not to have sexual relations with their wives is a waiting time of four months, but if they return [to normal relations] – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

And if they decide on divorce – then indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

The first step in terminating a marriage in Islam is to select arbitrators who will try to lead the parties to reconciliation. However, if reconciliation does not work out, then the next step will be for the arbitrators to ensure that the husband and wife go through the divorce as stated in the Holy Quran.

Subsequent procedures depend on which of the two parties, the husband or the wife instigated the divorce. “Talaq” is the process in which a man proclaims his intention to divorce his wife. This can be done in writing or orally and there should be three months waiting period (known as “Iddat”) immediately following the “Talaq” pronouncement.  Sexual intimacies between couples during the “iddat” waiting period are prohibited but they will still share the same home.

The “iddat” waiting period allows couples to rethink their actions and provide them the opportunity to reconcile while also allowing time to verify if the wife is expecting a child or not.  If a wife is expecting a child then the waiting period extends to six months upon the delivery of the child. During this waiting period the husband’s obligations as it relates to financial support to his wife remains unchanged. Couples can reconcile during this process thereby terminating the divorce process.

“Khu” refers to divorce instigated by the wife, when the husband is not liable. In this case the husband is entitled to be paid the bribe price fully if divorce is enforced. However in instances where the husband had not met his obligations, the wife can proceed with the divorce option. In such cases the wife has to provide concrete evidence to show that her husband did not uphold his obligations. A judge will examine the evidence and give judgment on the basis of Islamic principles. In addition, if a condition was specified in the marriage contract by the wife, then the wife is entitled to conditional divorce if certain/or all conditions were not met by the husband.

However, Islam strongly discourages divorce, and further encourages reconciliation among married couples. Women are given the greatest sense of respect during the divorce process as stated in this verse from the Holy Quran:

When you divorce women and they fulfil the term of their (Iddat), either take them back on equitable terms or set them free on equitable terms; but do not take them back to injure them, (or) to take undue advantage; if anyone does that, he wrongs his own soul. Do not treat God’s Signs as a jest, but solemnly rehearse God’s favours on you, and the fact that He sent down to you the Book and Wisdom, for your instruction. And fear God, and know that God is well-acquainted with all things. (2:231)

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