Rafed English

Divorce - I

In our age divorce has become a world problem as all grumble and complain about it. Those whose laws prohibit divorce totally complain of the non-existence of a way to escape from unsuccessful and unsuitable marriages. On the other hand, those who have opened the door of divorce, equally for both man and woman, complain about the growing rate of divorce and the instability of domestic life, and its harmful effects. Those who have given the right of divorce to men only express their dissatisfaction on two accounts:

Firstly, some mean people, after years of married life, unexpectedly divorce their old wives who had spent the best part of their youth with them, simply because they suddenly feel eager to have a new wife.

Secondly, some unchivalrous people refuse to divorce a wife, with whom there is absolutely no possibility of a mutual understanding and a continued joint life.

It often happens that, for some reasons, the differences between a husband and a wife reach such a stage that no possibility of reconciliation is left, and they practically separate from each other. In such circumstances, the only sensible way is to sever, legally, the relations which have already been practically severed, and to allow both of them to choose new partners-in-life. But some men, to harass their wives and to deprive them of enjoying a conjugal life, decline to divorce them. They leave the woman, in the words of the Qur'an, "in a state of hanging".

Such people are far away from the teachings of Islam, though they use the authority of the Islamic law for their improper behaviour. Their conduct gives an impression to those who are not acquainted with the depth and the spirit of the teachings of Islam, that this is the way Islam wants divorce to be.

The critics ask sarcastically whether Islam has really allowed men to harass their wives as much as they like, sometimes by divorcing them and sometimes withholding divorce, and at the same time to have the mental satisfaction that they have only used their lawful and legal right.

The critics say that such an action constitutes a glaring example of injustice and cruelty. They ask "If it is true, as the Muslims claim, that the Islamic laws have been organised on the basis of justice and righteousness, what measures have Islam taken to prevent this kind of injustice?"

About the cruelty and injustice of such acts there can be no doubt. Islam, as we shall show, has taken cognisance of this situation and has thought of measures to counteract it. The important question is: What is the proper way of preventing this injustice and cruelty? Are the acts of injustice due to any inherent defect in the law of divorce, or should their real cause be looked for somewhere else? Can they be stopped by modifying the law or are some other measures required?

Islam has its own view as to the solution of the social problems. Some people think that they can be solved either by framing a new law or by changing the existing one. But Islam realises that a law has its own limits. It can be effective only within the range of the dry contractual relations. As for the sentimental relations, it alone cannot do much, and we should have recourse to other measures also.

As we shall show latter, Islam has fully utilised the force of law as far as it can be effective. It has not failed in this respect.

Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari"

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