In the view of the fact that several hundred families suffer from an irresponsible decision that is always regretted, this matter is of concern to us and that is why we request you to devote some time to read what follows:-
In the world of creation, man is perceived as Allah’s favourite creature. “In truth, We have honoured the sons of Adam. We have carried them on land and sea, have provided good food for them, and We have clearly preferred them over many of Our creatures.” (17: 70). Giant stars have been scattered in a boundless space in order to enable man to find his bearings at night. “As well as landmarks. And by means of stars (people) find their way.” (16: 16). In fact, everything on earth has been placed to be of service to that small creature who is not discernible within a radius of five kilometers. “And He has subjugated for you everything that is in the heavens and on earth.” (45: 13). All these settongs and arrangements have been made to help human beings. In order to make human beings understand their importance. And that their actions will be rewarded. And that every syllable of a human being is reckoned with. Every alphabet of his is noted. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “There is no word which he mentions without an observer next to him being ready to note it down.” (50: 18).
We have a very meticulous Creator, who has not left to chance our fingerprints or the orbits of the sun and the planets. And He is so meticulous as not to leave out even very small actions. “And whoever commits an evil of the weight of an atom, will see it” (99: 8).
Therefore, one cannot mention anything without thinking. One must verify and weigh one’s words before speaking. A wrong statement can cost us dearly. Man has been made responsible for his environment. To establish a balance in all things, Allah Ta’ala has set up a standard, a platform, and He has granted to man a higher status than woman. Allah Ta’ala explains this decree in this way: “Men are given authority over women, by reason of the fact that Allah has granted favours to the former over the latter, and also because of the expense they incur out of their belongings.” (4: 34). In truth, Adam has been created in the first instance from clay. Eve has, on the other hand, been created from one of Adam’s ribs. The messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h) has explained the nature of woman: “Accept this recommendation about women! Because they have been created from a rib, from the most curved part of it: the higher part of it. Should you try to straighten it, you would break it. And if you leave it as it is, it will remain curved. Seek advice about women!” (Bukhari). Allah Ta’ala has created woman as a companion to man during his journey. He has endowed her with femininity, and physical and psychological differences. She has been chosen to be the mothers of man, and her breast-feeding has no equal in nature. She is so different. “The boy is not like the girl.” (3: 36).
This difference enables one to appreciate each of her qualities. Without woman, the world would be a dull place. The messenger of Allah (pbuh) has laid down much advice of tolerance and understanding towards woman. In fact, Allah Ta’ala has granted authority to man, but he is not free to act as he wishes. You know, during his last sermon at Arafah, the Holy prophet (pbuh) has warned us to act with caution regarding woman, who rests under man’s responsibility. “Fear Allah concerning women, because you have taken them on Allah’s trust. Their intimacy is allowed to you on Allah’s word. Your right on them is that they should not allow their chastity to be tarnished by anyone ….. and their right on you is that you must feed them and accommodate them in a reasonable manner.” (Muslim). Therefore, Islam has apportioned responsibilities between man and woman. Even if man has been given supremacy, by Allah’s decree, he has to assume the heavy responsibilities devolved upon him by the shariah, namely decent lodging, and financial expenses on his wife and family. The Qur’an prescribes mutual co-operation and understanding between husband and wife.
Allah Ta’ala has prescribed the breast-feeding period as being of two years’ duration only; however, with mutual agreement, this period can be altered: “And the mothers, who wish to give complete breast-feeding, will breast-feed their babies during two complete years….And if, after mutual consultation, both agree on a weaning period, there is no blame on them. And fear Allah, and know that Allah observes everything you do.” (2: 233). Wherever mention is made of a couple’s relationship, Allah Ta’ala has spoken of Taqwa, which means caution, fear of disobedience, a high-level care in order not to disrupt loyalty to Allah. Nowadays, such advice is not followed, and this (holy) relationship sealed with Allah’s name is broken on flimsy grounds, on a fire of anger. And afterwards one regrets one’s fate. It must be understood that, just as we were assembled officially during the nuptial ceremony of ‘Nakahtuha wa qabiltuha’, there must be an official meeting if the decision to end the conjugal relationship is taken. One cannot just wipe away one’s conjugal life or that of one’s children solely on the words of talaaq. The talaaq is a matter which brings about a change in the course of a life. Because once it has been pronounced, the talaaq becomes effective. That is why the fear of Allah is important and the Qur’an’s advice has to be followed. Because Allah Ta’ala hates talaaq.
Let us now see how to set about resolving conjugal discord and differences in accordance with the Shariah.
Allah Ta’ala has established an equilibrium in the universe, and it is this equilibrium which makes the moon revolve around the earth and the earth revolve around the sun. “As for the sky, He has raised it very high. And He has established the balance.” (55: 7). On the earth also, Allah Ta’ala wishes that we practice moderation and that we do not usurp the equilibrium established by the Shariah: “And so that you do not cheat on weight.” (55: 8). And the nature of the Ummah is based on the balance of justice. “And We have made of you a community of just people so that you may be witnesses against people, just like the messenger (pbuh) is a witness against you.” (2: 143). In this way, moderation is the best practice. Moderation means obedience to the Creator as well as being nice and gentle to human beings. Prophet Muhammad (saw) has stated: The man most cherished by Allah, The Most Exalted, is the one who has been most beneficial to humanity. (Majma’uz Zawaa’id). Good manners and etiquette create a pleasant atmosphere in society. The messenger of Allah (saw) was not vulgar, did not imitate vulgar people and used to say: “The best among you is the one whose behavior is excellent.” (Bukhari). Good manners are easily shown before someone who is stronger than you or in a higher status than you. But the most excellent behavior is when we deal in the same manner with people who are weaker than us: our subordinates. Woman and child are under under man’s responsibility. The messenger of Allah (pbuh) has made it clear: “The best among you is the one who deals in the best way with his wife.” (Ibn Majah).
So it is that the wife requires an attention of tenderness, tolerance and understanding. However, since equilibrium demands it, one has also, as the situation requires, to expressly demonstrate rigidity in matters of principle and religion. “Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was available for service to his family at home. When the time for salah came, he would go out for salah.” (Bukhari).
One must never lose flexibility in its application. Prophet Muhammad (saw) has warned us: “Woman has been created out of a curved object and will not be straightened by you; so, if you want to derive benefit from her, deal with her while respecting her curvature. And if you try to straighten her, you will break her. And that breaking is called divorce. (Muslim) This hadith holds a lot of wisdom and a lesson for us. Woman must be valued with her talents as well as her weaknesses. Whoever has no tolerance and enforces his rigid idealism on her is putting his conjugal life in danger. One must appreciate woman and speak words of encouragement and appreciation to her.
However, woman’s disobedience is a phenomenon often raised in discussions with couples. The Qur’an has not prescribed talaaq as a solution to anger on this subject. Rather, the Qur’an prescribes wise connotations to deal with such conjugal disputes. Allah Ta’ala has prescribed as follows in surah An-Nisaa (women): “And as regards to those women whose disobedience you fear, exhort them, stay away from their beds…” (4: 34)
There are three stages to consider when dealing with wives’ indiscipline:
1) The first is dialogue: one must explain to the young woman and tell her about her irresponsibility towards her husband and her conjugal duty. Islam wishes that the husband acts responsibly and with maturity and establishes understanding and communion with her.
2) The second is a passive action on the part of the husband who expresses his protest against the wife’s attitude. The man stays away from the conjugal bed in order to warn the woman that she has overstepped a line of demarcation which is going to affect conjugal love.
3) The third is an optional recommendation. As a last resort, light beatings with a miswaak. The sunnah, which are writings that decipher the Qur’an for us, rules out any type of brutality. The holy prophet (pbuh) has been described as a man who has never raised his hand to beat his wife or servant. (Nassai). Islam therefore condemns all manner of brutality or ill-treatment against the wife. If, after these stages, discord still prevails within the couples, then the Qur’an prescribes that a jury made up of elders of the family be involved: “If you fear discord between both partners, then send an arbiter from his family and an arbiter from her family.” (4: 35).
For all theses stages, the advice of religious scholars is necessary. Hazrat Umar (ra) has stated: “Educate yourself before marriage.” (Bukhari).
Islam therefore provides very effective advice to young as well as old couples. Maktab education up to 16 years can help establish such values in our youth. Regular salah can certainly help us at this juncture.
Islam has taught us these stages of dialogue and interaction between couples in order to solve all kind of dilemma. Islam has not prescribed that we pull the trigger of talaaq at any moment. It is only after the stages of dialogue and understanding and several meetings with family arbiters and Oulamas that the decision in favour of divorce or talaaq can be reached. And the inevitable application of the divorce in accordance with the sunnah is only one talaaq, not more.
Let us now consider the reality of these inevitable cases:
Love is a movement of devotion and dedication towards an ideal, an objective. The epicenter of love lies in the heart, from where it issues so naturally, just like the heart of a mother who forgets all her labour pains as soon as she first sets her eyes on her newborn baby. This intense feeling of affection is present to make lovers aware of the realities around them. Even beasts are so very close to their near ones, and especially, their mother. But the love that is the most ardent in all dimensions is that of Allah Ta’ala for man. And Allah Ta’ala wishes that that love should be reciprocal. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “Now, therefore, believers are the most ardent of lovers of Allah.” (2: 165). Prophet Muhammad (saw) has said: “I swear that Allah Ta’ala is more Merciful towards His servants than this (mother) is towards her child.” (Bukhari). Love must be cultivated by way of obedience and sacrifice for Allah Ta’ala and His prophet (saw). That standard has been established by Prophet Muhammad (saw) in these words: “None among you shall be trustworthy as long as I am not dearer to him than his parents, his children and the rest of the world.” (Bukhari). This kind of love has to be cultivated. Every day, we learn a sunnah in order to recall pious habits and adopt them in our daily lives. In the different mindsets of anger, pain or even joy, one must remain within the parameters of the shariah as advocated by Allah Ta’ala through His prophet (saw). Obedience and piety reflect the true love of Allah Ta’ala. That is the reason why an appeal is made to couples not to jump towards talaaq at a time of extreme anger. Because talaaq, even in a moment of anger, unfortunately becomes operative. The prophet of Allah (saw) explains: “There are three things which, when considered seriously, are dealt within in fact effectively so, and jokes about them are equally considered very seriously: they are nikah, talaaq and reconciliation.” (Daar-ul-Qutni)
Talaaq is not an action to be taken hastily, nor should the husband be urged to pronounce it. That is because Allah Ta’ala hates talaaq. “Among the authorised principles most hated by Allah, The Most High is talaaq.” (Abu Dawood)
However, the fact is that, in many circumstances, talaaq or divorce is the last resort. For example, infidelity can be one reason for a couple to envisage separation. Under the authority of Nassai, a companion came forward to state his case: “O Prophet of Allah! I have a good wife; but she does not repel the hands of strangers which caress her.” The prophet (saw) advised him: “Divorce her.” The companion replied: “I cannot live without her.” The prophet (saw) told him: “Then keep her.” Hence, when love and the sense of dignity and honour are in conflict, and if love triumphs, then the door of forgiveness can be opened and wounds can be healed. Otherwise, do not stay in doubt under the same roof. Because, divorce is made up of two aspects: The first one is separation with the door of reconciliation kept open; the other one is separation for good, with no possibility of reconciliation. Only one talaaq always leaves the door of reconciliation open. Hence, divorced people can contract a nikkah a second time to pursue their conjugal life. However, if the husband has pronounced all three talaaqs, the couple will be deprived of reconciliation. And divorced women must observe a period of three menses… And their husbands will no longer be able to take them back during that period, if they are seeking reconciliation. Talaaq is authorised for only two times. So then, either there is reconciliation in accordance with propriety, or release with propriety. “If he divorces her (the third time), then she will no longer be lawful for him until her marriage to another man.” (2: 230).
The Qur’an is clear on this issue: “For anyone who has pronounced three talaaqs, there is no reconciliation, but rather either of them must choose a new marriage partner. A pregnant wife must await the birth of her child; otherwise, a period of three menses must be observed before a new nikah with another man. What must be known is that, for Allah’s sake, talaaq should not be pronounced. If, after following all the procedures required by the Qur’an (dialogue, passive reaction, etc), and after allowing a reasonable period of time for wounds to be healed, then the new circumstances must be made known officially. Then, if the cause of the conflict has been established, then only one talaaq will suffice for the divorce to be effective. May Allah Ta’ala grant us His love, the love of His prophet (saw), the love of our parents, of our wives and children, and the love for all actions which contribute to our welfare in this world and in the Hereafter. Aameen!!!