By Dr. Israr Ahmed
Scholar, teacher and founder of ‘Tanzeem-e-Islami’
Marital relationship is a sacred bond that should be respected and upheld during the highs and the lows of life. However, divorce is a glaring reality as well. In the wake of the rising instances of divorce, it is imperative to be aware of the conditions that govern this important issue.
It is ironic that in the present era, when vast communication channels facilitate discussion of every topic under the sun and encourage people to resolve issues through dialogue, a candid discourse on divorce is still considered to be a taboo.
There are plenty of reasons for not discussing this issue. The main reason, however, why people prefer to keep mum about divorce is because they fail to understand the Quran, despite reciting it often. Hence, they are not clear about the terms and the conditions that surround this important issue.
The subject of divorce, along with its method and its principles, has been discussed in detail in Surah Al-Baqarah of the Noble Quran. Divorce, if given in a proper manner as prescribed by Islam, does not sever all ties with the spouse in one go. It is mentioned in verse 229 of Surah Al-Baqarah that a window of reconciliation remains open even if divorce is given twice. This is known as Talaq-e-Rajaee. For Talaq-e-Rajaee to be enforced, it is imperative that divorce is given once during the woman’s condition of purity. In such a scenario, the period of Iddat is three Quroo (that is, the beginning or the end of the 3rd menstrual cycle).
Divorce given once
If divorce is given once, the marriage does not break. During her Iddat, a woman can live in her husband’s house with respect, so that physical relationship can be re-established between them, if they desire it and thus, they can reconcile. If the husband does so during Iddat, the wife cannot refuse and there is no need to renew the Nikah.
In verse 229 of Surah Al-Baqarah, it is also mentioned that a man can either retain his wife on reasonable terms or release her with kindness. During Talaq-e-Rajaee, if the husband does not reconcile during the period of Iddat, it becomes Talaq-e-Baenaa. This marks the separation of the husband and wife, and the Nikah breaks. Now, the husband’s right to reconcile ends, and if he wants to stay with his wife, he will have to remarry her with another Nikah. If after giving divorce once, the husband reconciles or remarries the wife and then at some other instance, he divorces her the second time, the entire process of divorce mentioned above is repeated. In a nutshell, the husband can reconcile during the period of Iddat and if he does not do so but decides only after Iddat that he wants to stay with his wife, he will have to renew his Nikah with her.
Divorce given thrice
If the husband divorces his wife the third time, after reconciliation or renewing the Nikah twice, then this is called Mughallaz. In verse 230 of Surah Al-Baqarah it is mentioned that if the husband divorces his wife the third time, then she is not lawful for him thereafter, until she has married another person. Giving divorce thrice ends the husband’s right to reconcile. The woman will have to leave the husband’s house, as she is no longer Halal for him. The period of Iddat in this final divorce is also three Quroo.
In verse 231 of Surah Al-Baqarah, it is mentioned that the verses of Allah (swt) should not be treated with disrespect. Hence, the rules mentioned therein should be strictly followed.
Giving Talaq thrice at once is called Talaq-e-Biddat. This type of divorce is highly disliked in Islam.
The woman, who has been divorced thrice, has the freedom to marry anyone she desires. If after her Iddat, the woman remarries, and her new husband divorces her or she becomes a widow, she can remarry her former husband, if she wills. This is known as Halala. It is not allowed in Islam to plan Halala or do it on purpose. The Prophet (sa) has cursed those who do Halala intentionally, and has declared such a Nikah as being contrived.
Separation between a husband and wife also occurs due to Khula. It is the woman’s right to obtain separation from her husband, if she so desires; however, in such a scenario she will have to return her Meher and go to a court of law. Even if the husband does not want separation, the court will order him to divorce her, because she does not want to stay with him. If the husband does not give a divorce, the court will nullify the Nikah.
The period of Iddat after the Khula is one Quroo (that is one menstrual cycle). However, according to a majority of jurists, in a Khula, if Talaq has been given by the husband, the period of Iddat should be three Quroo. In the instance of Khula, the husband does not have the right to reconcile during the period of Iddat. Nor after the period of Iddat they can renew their Nikah. Khula marks the final divorce.
As mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah, it is better to give a divorce once only during the woman’s period of purity. The wisdom in this method is that there is room for reconciliation between the husband and wife within the period of Iddat. Even if the period of Iddat passes, the possibility of another Nikah with mutual agreement remains. Marital relationship holds a lot of importance in Islam, as a couple lays the foundations of an Islamic family unit and ensures sound and knowledgeable future Muslim generations. If divorce is given thrice, the husband loses his right to reconcile and they cannot have Nikah without Halala, the family unit breaks and the future generations suffer.
Based on a lecture on divorce as defined in Surah Al-Baqarah. Transcribed for Hiba by Dur-e-Sameen Zafar Khan.