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Natural Laws in Respect of Marriage and Divorce

In a civil society the only natural law is the law of liberty and equality, on the basis of which all social rules should be framed. But in respect of a conjugal contract, besides the general principles of liberty and equality, nature has prescribed certain other laws also, which must be adhered to in the case of marriage, dower, maintenance and the last stage of the process, that is divorce. It is of no use to bypass nature. As Alexis Carrel has pointed out, the biological and other laws of life are as hard, ruthless and irresistible as the astronomical laws.

Marriage means attachment and union, and divorce means separation.

Nature has designed the law of marriage in such a way that man acts with a view to appropriate woman, and woman withdraws with a view to fascinate and mislead man. Man wants to take possession of the body of woman and woman wants to captivate the heart of man. The foundation of marriage is laid on love, union and fellow-feeling, and not on mere co-operation and companionship. In the family structure, the fair sex occupies the central position, and her opposite sex the peripheral one. From all this it automatically follows that nature must have had special rules for the dissolution of family life also.

We have quoted earlier an intellectual as saying that mateseeking means an attack on the part of man for the purpose of appropriation and a withdrawal on the part of woman for the purpose of enchantment and deception. Man being instinctively a hunting animal, his action is offensive and for him woman is a trophy which he must win. Mate-seeking is a battle and a struggle and marriage is appropriation and domination.

A contract which is based on love and the feeling of oneness is not enforceable by compulsion. The law can compel two people to respect their contract on the basis of equality, and to co-operate with each other, but it cannot force them to love each other, to be sincere to each other, to make sacrifices for the sake of each other and to share each other's happiness.

If we want to maintain such a relationship between two people we have to adopt some measures other than legal.

According to the natural mechanism of marriage, on which Islamic laws are based, a wife occupies the position of a person deserving love and respect in the family order. If, for some reason, she loses that position and is deprived of the love and attention of her husband, the base of the family structure falls off and the natural order is deranged. Islam looks at such a situation with regret, but it cannot assume marriage to be alive and constant even after the disintegration of its natural basis.

Islam has taken special steps to ensure that the family life retains its natural form, which means that the wife should be loved and sought after, and the husband should feel attached to her and be ready to serve her.

Islam has urged woman to beautify herself to please her husband, to give a display of her accomplishments for his sake, to satiate his natural desires and not to annoy him by disobedience. It has also exhorted man to love his wife, to show kindness and attachment to her, and not to conceal from her his love for her. These steps have been taken to make the sexual enjoyment limited to the domestic atmosphere, and to keep the wider society a field of work and activities other than sexual. Islam wants that extra-marital contacts between man and woman should be pure and unpolluted. All these steps have been taken with a view to keeping the family organisation free from the danger of dissolution and disintegration.

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

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