Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage (1)

Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage (1)

Marital life ought to begin with earnestness and should continue happily under the shadow of love, tolerance and self-sacrifice. But practically speaking marriage contract and conjugal relations do not in all cases continue to exist till the end of life. In certain cases it becomes impossible for two parties to live together in peace and harmony for various reasons such as their emergence of deep rooted differences. In such circumstances, there must be a suitable way of dissolving a marriage legally, otherwise if the parties are forced to continue to live together, their life is likely to become unbearable. In many cases, the consequences may be most regrettable and even tragic. Anyway, it is evident that as marriage in itself is a social need, in certain circumstances its dissolution is also a social necessity. The social compulsions have forced even the Christians to frame and enforce laws concerning divorce, though their present religious book forbids it except in the case of unchastely and though their Church has for long opposed it vehemently. "But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery".(1) The divorce act is even passed in Italy, which is the seat of the Pope. 

Divorce in Islamic Law

Divorce is the dissolution of permanent marriage resulting in the end of al responsibilities of the husband and the wife in regard to the rights and obligations connected with it. From the Islamic point of view, the disintegration of family bond is very undesirable on principle. It is the worst and the most detestable act in the eyes of Allah. The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) has said:

- The most detestable thing before Allah is divorce. 
- Allah likes most, the house which is inhabited in the wake of a marriage and dislikes most the house which is abandoned in the wake of separation. 

In fact, divorce may be regarded as an unpleasant and bitter pill which has to be taken in the case of need. Resort to it should not be made unnecessarily and for the sake of caprice. Islamic traditions have described unnecessary divorce as a cause of remoteness from the blessings of Allah. Islam has suggested certain precautionary measures to ward off divorce as far as possible. For example: 

- Much stress has been laid on the careful selection of the wife.
- Repeated recommendations have been made to treat her well and connive at her minor mistakes which are common in life. 
- Self-control against sudden outbursts of rage and hasty actions. 
- Formation of an internal family court to resolve the differences arising between husband and wife. 

It is possible that the relations between the husband and the wife might sometimes become strained consequent on differences and scolding remarks. Islam suggests that in such cases a suitable way should be found at the earliest to resolve the differences and there should be no talk of separation so easily. All cases of strained relations are not such that we should be disappointed of the restoration of love and affection. In most cases, it is possible to rectify the position. Whenever it is not possible for the husband and wife to sort out their differences themselves, their case should be considered by a family court consisting of two arbiters, one selected from the family of the husband and the other from the wife. The arbiters should be sympathetic and experienced so that they may listen to the point of view of both the parties, and try to reconcile them. In this respect, the Quran says: "If  you fear a breach between the two (husband and wife), appoint an arbiter from his people and another from hers. If they desire amendment, Allah will make them of one mind".(2)

Obviously an arbiter should be a trust worthy person, a good conversationalist and fit for making a just arbitration. The two arbiters are to be selected from among the members of the two families because as such they are expected to have a knowledge of the temperament of the husband and wife as well as of their domestic affairs; and also because they will normally be interested in settling their differences. 

Effects of divorce

From the psychological, legal and social point of view, divorce produces varied effects, some of them being related to the husband and wife themselves and some of them to their families. If there are children, separation between their parents will affect their position also in many ways. In view of these results, special conditions have been visualized for divorce so that it may be warded off as far as possible, for if it is taken easy, the future of children will certainly be threatened. What should be the condition of a woman to be divorced: 

* Her periods must not be on.
* After the last sexual intercourse, she must have had her periods at least once.
* If the woman having been pregnant has been delivered of a child, her rest period after delivery (ceremonial purification from childbirth) must have come to an end. 

Of course if a woman is pregnant or does not menstruate, the above conditions do not apply to her. In cases other than these two, the question of divorce should be postponed till these conditions materialize. 

Continue in the next article: ( Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage (2) )



1. (Matthew, V:32)

2. (Surah al-Nisa, 4:35)