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On Divorce

The main object of marriage is that, by entering into it, people led a clean and virtuous life, and just as they were someone’s children, they, too, produced children, and the children were a source of joy to them and a means to the attainment of Paradise in Futurity. For the realization of these ends, it is essential that relations between man and wife are pleasant and based on love and understanding. This, in a nutshell, is the substance of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) relating to the conduct and behaviour between husband and wife. Yet, sometimes, circumstances arise in which it becomes extremely hard to live together. The Prophet’s advice, even then, is that they should try to the utmost to bear with each other, and resolve their differences, through mutual concession and compromise. Divorce or Talaq, too, has, however, been permitted as a last resort. It evidently would have been most unjust if the breaking up of a marriage was not allowed in any case, and however miserable the life of a couple became, they were legally compelled to remain joined in wedlock till death. While detailed guidance has, hence, been furnished by Islam on the subject of divorce, the first thing to remember, as a matter of principle, is that such a development is highly displeasing to God, and, therefore, it should be avoided as far as possible. Neither the husband nor the wife should act in a hurry. The step is to be taken only when no choice is left, in the same way as, for example, the amputation of a limb is agreed to when no other course is open. The method prescribed for divorce is that the husband should give only one Raj’ee Talaq (i.e., a ‘reversible’ divorce; a divorce that can be taken back within the period of ‘Iddat) at a time when the wife is in a state of cleanliness, i.e., she is not in her periods so that it remained open to the husband to retrace his steps and take back the divorce within the period of ‘Iddat (i.e., the period of waiting for a widowed or divorced woman before the expiry of which she cannot re-marry. For a divorced woman, ‘Iddatextends up to the time that three cyclic periods of menstruation are completed, and if the woman be pregnant, until she is delivered of the child). The pronouncing of three Talaqs simultaneously is extremely sinful, but to do so at three different times, too, has been viewed with strong disfavour, and the punishment laid down on it, here in this world, is that the husband will not be allowed to re-marry his divorced wife until she is married to another man and full conjugal relations have been established between them, and, after it, she has either become a widow owing to the death of her second husband or been divorced by him as well. It is on]y then that he can marry her again on the completion of ‘Iddat. This severe restriction, in fact, is the penalty imposed on the husband for pronouncing three Talaqs.

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