As per the procedure outlined in the Islamic shari‘ah for divorcing a wife, no one has the right to divorce his wife without taking into consideration her ‘iddat, pronouncing divorce in rage, not calling in witnesses at the time of divorce, declaring divorce during her menstrual cycle or during her period of purity in which he has been intimate with her or utter more than one divorce sentences in one go or send a written divorce to her by writing many divorces at the same time. All these methods are extremely undesirable. The Prophet (sws) showed great anger on whichever of these methods were adopted in his times or emanated from a person in his presence. So much so, at one instance he is reported to have said: “Is the law of God being toyed with even though I am present among you?”[1]

In spite of this, ninety percent of the people in our society are guilty of the above referred to wrongdoings while giving divorce. In the thirty years of my public life, barring one or two, almost all cases of divorce which have come to me are afflicted with one or more of these wrongdoings. This is something very worrisome. However, does this mean: do people intentionally disobey the law of God and have no sense of what is lawful and what is not left in them? They no longer fear God in this regard and do not think that one day they will be held accountable before God? In my opinion, none of the above is the case. People indulge in these wrongdoings not because they want to be rebelleious before God. On the contrary, they commit these wrongdoings unintentionally. The reason for this is that a vast majority of them in the first place do not even know that these things are prohibited in the shari‘ah of God. Secondly, scholars and jurists not only do not inform people of these wrongdoings, they even enforce every divorce that is given while adopting wrong methods. Thirdly, if the person who has given divorce goes to a registered oath commissioner or marriage registrar or some lawyer and asks them to write a divorce document, then they too without taking all these wrongdoings in consideration write three simultaneous divorce sentences. This has become so common that seldom do we see a person divorce his wife according to the shari‘ah of God and according to the norms prescribed by it.

The consequences of this approach are very grave. The benefits which the shari‘ah methodology of divorce holds are sacrificed. All options of reconciliation and saving the family are dashed to ground. No possibility remains for the children, adults and friends to resolve the situation. A permanent basis of rivalry between families is laid. When people who have divorced their wives turn to scholars to make amends for what they have done, the answer they get is to do halalah. The words of the Prophet (sws) regarding this heinous act is that God curses the one who undertakes it and and the one who has it arrangened.[2] In short, as soon as divorce is uttered from the mouth, it becomes a regret for the whole life.

The following measures are essential to redress this state of affairs.

1. In their Friday sermons, gatherings and lectures, scholars should inform people of these mistakes. They should make them aware of their grave nature. They should continuously place before these people the sayings of the Prophet (sws) related to divorce. They should inform them that the right way to divorce a wife is to always pronounce it once only, and that it should be given in a calm and calculated way in the presence of two witnesses giving due regard to the ‘iddat period and it should not be given during her menstrual cycle or in her period of ritual cleanliness when the husband has had intercourse with her.

2. Like the marriage form, the government should also issue a standard divorce form and place it in the custody of marriage registrars. It should be made mandatory on every person who intends to divorce his wife to fill this form. If he does not do so, then he must be necessarily punished.

3. Jurists, scholars and courts of law instead of implementing wrongly given divorces should adopt the way the Prophet (sws) adopted in such cases. Two of these cases are very important:

The first of these is the case of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta). When he divorced his wife during her menstrual cycle, ‘Umar (rta) presented his case before the Prophet (sws). The Prophet (sws) expressed great anger when he was informed of these details and said: “Ask him to take her back and retain her in wedlock until she enters her period of purity and then again passes through her menstrual cycle and is pure again. Then, if he wants, he can permanently retain her or divorce her without having intercourse with her because this is the beginning of ‘iddat keeping regard of which the Almighty has directed a husband to divorce his wife.”[3]

The second case is that of Rukanah ibn ‘Abdi Yazid.By gathering all the narratives of this case, the whole situation that comes to light is that he had divorced his wife three times in one go. He then felt ashamed and presented his case before the Prophet (sws). The Prophet (sws) inquired: “How did you divorce her?” He replied: “I divorced her three times in one go.” The Prophet (sws) again inquired: “What was your intention?” He answered that he wanted to divorce her once only. The Prophet (sws) told him to reply on oath which he did and then said: “If this is the matter, then take her back. Only one divorce has been implemented.” Rukanah remarked: “O Prophet of God! I had divorced her three times.” The Prophet said: “I know, take her back and this is not the proper way of divorcing a wife. The Almighty has said that if one must divorce his wife, he should do so keeping in consideration the ‘iddat.[4]

(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)

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[1]. Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman Ahmad ibn Shu‘ayb al-Nasa’i, Al-Sunan al-mujtaba, 2nd ed., vol. 6. (Halab: Maktab al-matbu‘at al-islamiyyah, 1986), 142, (no. 3401).

[2]. Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn Yazid ibn Majah al-Qazwini, 1st ed., vol. 1 (Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1998), 623, (no. 1936).

[3]. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, vol. 5, 2011, (no. 4953); Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, vol. 2, 1095, (no. 1471).

[4]. Abu Da’ud Sulyman ibn al-Ash‘ath al-Sajistani, Sunan, vol. 2 (n.p.: Dar al-fikr, n.d.), 267, 270, (nos. 2196, 2206); Ibn Majah, Sunan, vol. 2, 521, (no. 2051); Abu ‘Īsa Muhammad ibn ‘Īsa al-Tirmidhi, Al-Jami‘ al-kabir, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (Beirut: Dar al-gharb al-islami, 1998), 466, (no. 1177), Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 1, 438, (no. 2383). These narratives have weak chains of narration; however, if they are collected and collated, this weakness is dispelled