Unpar­al­leled Jus­tice in Islam : Divorce and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of Marriage

Divorce (talaaq) in Islam is most hat­ed of per­mis­si­ble things to God”, as stat­ed in a pop­u­larised hadith1 This invari­ably sums up the per­mis­si­bil­i­ty of divorce and its legal basis in the Noble Qur’an, the Sun­nah of the Prophet Muham­mad (P) and the Mus­lim consensus. 

The Qur’an­ic verse on the mat­ter is as follows :

Divorce is two times, then retain with kind­ness or gra­cious release.” (Qur’an, 2:229)

This clear and def­i­nite Qur’an­ic state­ment, how­ev­er, was not under­stood by an infan­tile and bel­liger­ent mis­sion­ary who makes the most absurd claims, bla­tant twist­ing of facts and unjust com­ments about Islam’s divorce and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion laws. He claims as follows :

    It may be rare that a divorced cou­ple would like to rec­on­cile and remar­ry each oth­er, but this does hap­pen. The Quran has a strange mar­riage law for the divorced cou­ple in this sit­u­a­tion, after they have worked out their dif­fer­ences. It says that a divorced cou­ple may remar­ry each oth­er if and only if the wife first mar­ries anoth­er man, have sex­u­al inter­course with each oth­er, and then this sec­ond man divorces her.

Our pur­pose in this arti­cle is to explain the divorce and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion laws in Islam, hence expos­ing this mis­sion­ary lie once and for all. Since the mis­sion­ary had tak­en the time to attack the Noble Qur’an, we will repay the mis­sion­ary in a tit-for-tat exchange — com­plete with inter­est — when it comes to the Bible. 

That the Bible is con­fus­ing when it comes to the top­ic of divorce and remar­riage is no big secret. In the Old Tes­ta­ment, a mar­riage can sim­ply be dis­solved” at will, where­as in the New Tes­ta­ment, Jesus (P) is report­ed to have issued an injunc­tion against divorce in the first place ! 

After the Ref­or­ma­tion peri­od, how­ev­er, Chris­tians gen­er­al­ly have aban­doned their divorce laws con­tained in the Old and New Tes­ta­ment, pre­fer­ring instead to rely on the sec­u­lar laws for­mu­lat­ed by their com­mon sense” and seek the arbi­tra­tion of the courts.

Divorce accord­ing to the Qur’an and Sunnah

In Islam, the rea­son why a mar­riage can be ter­mi­nat­ed is to avoid unnec­es­sary pain to either par­ty, be it the hus­band or the wife, if a bet­ter solu­tion can­not be found. Although a divorce is allowed in Qur’an, 4:130 when­ev­er a friend­ly under­stand­ing can­not be reached between a hus­band and his wife, there is a fur­ther sug­ges­tion indi­cat­ed via the Qur’an in an attempt to rec­on­cile the mar­riage before the deci­sion for a divorce is obtained :

If ye fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his fam­i­ly, and the oth­er from hers, if they wish for peace, God will cause their rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. For God hath full knowl­edge, and is acquaint­ed with all things.” (Qur’an, 4:35 )

This verse shows that divorce is the very final solu­tion. As far as pos­si­ble, a mar­riage insti­tu­tion is to be main­tained, and the cou­ple should try every pos­si­ble way to try to rec­on­cile the mar­riage in order to avoid a divorce.

Divorce is two times, then retain with kind­ness or gra­cious release.” (Qur’an, 2:229)

This sums up the Islam­ic laws con­cern­ing divorce and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Here, the Qur’an is clear that the cou­ple is giv­en an oppor­tu­ni­ty to rec­on­cile twice before the third, and final divorce. Both the first and sec­ond divorce are effec­tive unless and until the cou­ple sues for a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.2

On the third, and final, divorce, the same cou­ple are not allowed to remar­ry unless the wife mar­ries anoth­er hus­band. It is only effec­tive after the third divorce, or if the hus­band pro­nounced the divorce thrice after real­is­ing the con­se­quences of his actions, i.e. that there will be no oppor­tu­ni­ties for a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion3.

So if a hus­band divorces his wife [for the third time], he can­not, after that, re-mar­ry her until after she has mar­ried anoth­er hus­band and he has divorced her. In that case there is no blame on either of them if they re-unite, pro­vid­ed they feel that they can keep the lim­its ordained by God. Such are the lim­its ordained by God, which He makes plain to those who under­stand.” (Qur’an 2:230)

In prac­tice, a Mus­lim would usu­al­ly pro­nounce the first or sec­ond talaaq, the third pro­nounce­ment being quite rare and used only in extreme cas­es. It is offen­sive to make a pro­nounce­ment of divorce when there is no need, to make three pro­nounce­ments being even more offen­sive.4

On anoth­er mis­sion­ary accu­sa­tion, name­ly that :

    In Islam­ic law, a woman has a very hard time divorc­ing her hus­band against his will, while a hus­band can eas­i­ly divorce his wife against her will. She will not be asked.

the mis­sion­ary has pro­nounced anoth­er lie and decep­tion, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the bas­tard apos­tle from Tar­sus. It is sim­ply a false claim to state that a wife in Islam is unable to divorce her hus­band if she want­ed to do so. For a fur­ther under­stand­ing on how this mis­sion­ary has lied through his teeth, see Women and Divorce From The Islam­ic Per­spec­tive. The var­i­ous forms of how a woman may seek a divorce is dis­cussed in this paper.

Divorce accord­ing to the Old and New Testament

Accord­ing to the mis­sion­ary, the Bible allows divorce to take place “…only for sex­u­al unfaith­ful­ness. No man should divorce his wife for triv­ial reasons.”

This was not how it was under­stood by the Jews and Chris­tians as it was prac­ticed in the past. In the Old Tes­ta­ment, a man could uni­lat­er­al­ly dis­miss his wife with­out any lit­er­al pro­nounce­ment. Hence, Abra­ham dis­missed Hagar by a sheer act of will, see­ing her off with what her shoul­der could car­ry by way of bread and water5. It was only long after the time of Jacob that lim­i­ta­tions began to be imposed upon divorce which had, until that time, been a male pre­rog­a­tive. Thus, the Deutero­nom­ic law (24:1) demand­ed a bill of divorce­ment” to be giv­en by the hus­band. The law still per­mit­ted divorce at a hus­band’s whim and fan­cy (“that she finds no favour in his eyes” 24:1), nev­er­the­less, mak­ing it hard­er than it had been.6

Fol­low­ing the Exile, divorce was again very com­mon but the eth­i­cal progress towards mak­ing divorce was more dis­ap­proved (and so less com­mon). How­ev­er, a bill of divorce­ment con­tin­ued to be nec­es­sary, but was made much more eas­i­er to draw up and apply, hence prompt­ing wide­spread abuse. Divorce required a state­ment that the hus­band has found some unclean­ness” in his wife. This gave Ezra-Nehemi­ah the oppor­tu­ni­ty to rein­state the prac­tive of wife and child repu­di­a­tion exem­pli­fied in the Bib­li­cal account by Abra­ham. Unclean­ness” was inter­pret­ed to enable the exclu­sivist, eth­ni­cal­ly cleansed” com­mu­ni­ty they want­ed.7

It is in fact this vague word­ing of the Deutero­nom­ic law which gave rise to rab­binic con­tro­ver­sies well adapt­ed to Ezra’s racist pogrom. By the time of Jesus, there were already two trends in the rab­binic tra­di­tion ; one, fol­low­ing from the inspi­ra­tion of the prophets, tend­ed to inter­pret unclean­ness” in the sense of adul­tery or inca­pac­i­tat­ing infir­mi­ty ; the oth­er, fol­low­ing Ezra, allowed any rea­son and inter­pret­ed unclean­ness” as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to find a more attrac­tive woman.8 We may note that Joseph con­sid­ered putting Mary away, priv­i­ly” (Matthew 1:19)

Due to this wide­spread abuse of divorce, Jesus (P) made var­i­ous pro­nounce­ments against it. In fact, Jesus (P) did not con­tribute to the legal debate about divorce ; he reject­ed the debate and repu­di­at­ed the law itself. In the Ser­mon on the Mount, he is report­ed to have said : It hath been said, whoso­ev­er shall put away his wife, let him give her a writ­ing of divorce­ment. But I say unto you, that whoso­ev­er puts away his wife, sav­ing for the cause of for­ni­ca­tion, causeth her to com­mit adul­tery ; and whoso­ev­er shall mar­ry her that is divorced com­mit­teth adul­tery“9. The inevitable argu­ment with the Phar­isees is also report­ed in Matthew 19:3 – 12, where Jesus (P) bold­ly answered them (19:4 – 5), invari­ably con­clud­ing by repu­di­at­ing divorce as con­trary to God’s will, as an undo­ing of the bond He had insti­tut­ed (19:6).

It is clear that if Chris­tians are still obey­ing their New Tes­ta­ment or claim that they are fol­low­ing Jesus (P), they should not be talk­ing about rec­on­cil­i­a­tion after divorce, much less the pro­ceed­ings of a divorce itself ! Cer­tain­ly, there are no two ways about it. It is either the Chris­tians repu­di­ate divorce in a mar­riage com­plete­ly (as per the Jesus injunc­tion) except on basis of adul­tery, or that they allow a divorce to take place but with­out any basis in the Bible apart from their own com­mon sense” civ­il laws in a sec­u­lar system.

Com­par­ing Chris­t­ian and Islam­ic Mar­riage Traditions

To illus­trate the mar­riage-divorce-remar­riage pat­tern we have made clear above, we will use the fol­low­ing math­e­mat­i­cal mod­el in order to make it clear that the accu­sa­tions of the mis­sion­ary are with­out any legal basis.

Let’s denote :

  • M for Marriage
  • D for Divorce, which is allowed only under spe­cif­ic con­di­tions (e.g., adul­tery or unclean­ness” in the con­text of Chris­t­ian teach­ings). For the pur­pos­es of this com­par­i­son, we will use C to denote these spe­cif­ic con­di­tions under which divorce is permitted.
  • R for Remarriage
  • MN for a new Mar­riage after the final divorce accord­ing to the Islam­ic approach
  • I rep­re­sents the Iddah peri­od in the Islam­ic approach, a wait­ing peri­od that offers a chance for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion before a divorce becomes final.

The New Tes­ta­ment approach empha­sizes the sanc­ti­ty of mar­riage (M), allow­ing divorce (D) under spe­cif­ic con­di­tions (C) such as adul­tery, fol­lowed by the pos­si­bil­i­ty of remar­riage (M’). This can be rep­re­sent­ed math­e­mat­i­cal­ly as :

M - DC - M'

where M stands for Mar­riage, DC for Divorce under spe­cif­ic con­di­tions, and M’ for remarriage.

In some mod­ern-day Chris­t­ian prac­tices, the cycle of mar­riage (M), divorce (D), and remar­riage (R) can poten­tial­ly repeat indef­i­nite­ly. This is illus­trat­ed math­e­mat­i­cal­ly as :

M - D1 - R1 - D2 - R2 -

The Islam­ic process allows for mar­riage (M), fol­lowed by up to three cycles of divorce (D) and remar­riage (R), with the pro­vi­sion for a new mar­riage (MN) after the third divorce. This approach is depict­ed math­e­mat­i­cal­ly as :

M - D1 - R1 - D2 - R2 - D3 - MN

Incor­po­rat­ing the Iddah peri­od (I) for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties between cycles of divorce (D) and remar­riage (R), lead­ing to a new mar­riage (MN) after the final divorce, the process is detailed math­e­mat­i­cal­ly as :

M - ( D1 - I1 - R1 ) - ( D2 - I2 - R2 ) - D3 - MN

Clear­ly, Islam pro­motes and pro­tects the sanc­ti­ty of mar­riage, par­tic­u­lar­ly of the first mar­riage, by allow­ing a remar­riage of the orig­i­nal cou­ple, not once but twice, only final­is­ing an absolute divorce in the third. Oppor­tu­ni­ties for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion are giv­en dur­ing the iddah peri­od of the divorced wife and pri­or to the third and final divorce.

Con­clu­sions

From the facts we have pro­vid­ed, it is clear that this igno­rant and fatu­ous mis­sion­ary (L) cer­tain­ly does not know what he is argu­ing about. It is clear that in Islam, divorce comes in three stages : once, twice and then three times. Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion between the same hus­band and wife is pos­si­ble if the divorce was pro­nounced only once or twice, but on the third time, the divorce is final and the sys­tem pre­vents a mock­ery of the divorce laws by fur­ther remar­riages. Hence lies the the essen­tial dif­fer­ence between the Qur’an and the Bible. 

The mis­sion­ary claims that It may be rare that a divorced cou­ple would like to rec­on­cile and remar­ry each oth­er, but this does hap­pen.”. In Islam’s case, how­ev­er, it is very rare that a cou­ple who were divorced for a third time would actu­al­ly want to rec­on­cile togeth­er. How­ev­er cou­ples who were divorced only once or twice are giv­en ample oppor­tu­ni­ties for a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Hence the claim that the Bible allows rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and remar­riage after a divorce with­out requir­ing or demand­ing an inter­ven­ing sec­ond mar­riage and divorce” is thus sim­ply a mis­sion­ary pro­pa­gan­da with no real legal basis.

Fur­ther­more, in Chris­tian­i­ty there is no oppor­tu­ni­ty for a divorce, mod­ern-day Chris­t­ian prac­tice notwith­stand­ing. The Old Tes­ta­ment allows for indis­crim­i­nate rea­sons for divorce, with­out any fur­ther delib­er­a­tion. In the New Tes­ta­ment, one can­not pro­ceed to a divorce unless he accus­es his wife of adultery.The mod­ern-day Chris­t­ian way for divorce and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is no bet­ter, as an infi­nite series of divorce and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion can be held with­out any check-and-bal­ance. Such strange laws have no place in mod­ern soci­ety today.

It is clear that there is unpar­al­leled jus­tice in Islam when it comes to divorce and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Islam, despite dis­cour­ag­ing the act of divorce, gives an oppor­tu­ni­ty for a divorce, a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of the cou­ple and pre­vents a fur­ther abuse of the sys­tem after a third divorce by dis­al­low­ing a remar­riage of the same cou­ple. Who was the mis­sion­ary try­ing to fool when he claims that Islam does not allow rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of a divorced cou­ple ? Or that the Bible pro­motes and pro­tects the sanc­ti­ty of mar­riage”, when his­tor­i­cal evi­dence and mod­ern-day prac­tice is to the contrary ?

And only God knows best.Endmark

Cite this arti­cle as : Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, Unpar­al­leled Jus­tice in Islam : Divorce and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of Mar­riage,” in Bis­mi­ka Allahu­ma, Octo­ber 27, 2005, last accessed April 17, 2024, https://​bis​mikaal​lahu​ma​.org/​i​s​l​a​m​/​w​o​m​e​n​-​i​n​-​i​s​l​a​m​/​d​i​v​o​r​c​e​-​a​n​d​-​r​e​c​o​n​c​i​l​i​a​t​i​on/
  1. Sunan Ibn Majah 2018. See also Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Mis­ri (transl. Nuh Ha Mim Keller), The Reliance of the Trav­el­er : A Clas­sic Man­u­al of Islam­ic Sacred Law, Amana Pub­li­ca­tions, 1997, p. 556. Although the sta­tus of this hadith is itself mur­sal and can­not be sound­ly attrib­uted to the Prophet, its mean­ing is sound as com­ment­ed upon by Ibn Uthaymeen, Liqa at al-bab il-Maftooh, no. 55, ques­tion no. 3[]
  2. On this mat­ter, see Muwat­ta Imam Malik (trans­lat­ed by Mohammed Rahimud­din), Kitab Bha­van, 2003, pp. 246 – 247. Malik gave sev­er­al authen­tic hadith on the issue which sup­ports this.[]
  3. See Al-Shafi’i’s Risala : Trea­tise on the Foun­da­tions of Islam­ic Jurispru­dence (trans­lat­ed by Majid Khad­duri), pp. 150 – 151[]
  4. Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Mis­ri, ibid., n2.0, p. 558[]
  5. See Gen­e­sis 21:14[]
  6. Isma’il Al-Faruqi, Chris­t­ian Ethics : A His­tor­i­cal and Sys­tem­at­ic Analy­sis of its Dom­i­nant Ideas, A.S. Noordeen, 1999, pp. 66 – 67[]
  7. Isma’il R. al-Faruqi, ibid., pp. 66 – 67[]
  8. The minu­ti­ae of the debate can be fol­lowed in I. Epstein, The Baby­lon­ian Tal­mud, 1936, vol 7, in par­tic­u­lar pp. 436ff. See also Jose­phus, Jew­ish Antiq­ui­ties, 1930 edn, vol 4, p. 597. Phi­lo too speaks of divorce avail­able under any pre­tense what­ev­er”, 1855 edn., vol. 3 p. 312[]
  9. Matthew 5 : 31 – 32[]

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One response to “Unpar­al­leled Jus­tice in Islam : Divorce and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of Marriage”

  1. Doug Avatar
    Doug

    WATCH A chris­t­ian mis­sion­ary CRASHBURN

    Over here ‑http://​www​.iidb​.org/​v​b​b​/​s​h​o​w​t​h​r​e​a​d​.​p​h​p​?​t​=​118609

    I. The Divorce Contradiction

    In the last round Gas­trich denied that the word ?whoso­ev­er ? is found in Mark 10:11 ! Of course, the claim was untrue. Now Gas­trich has no trou­ble admit­ting that the word is there. He wrote :

    Quote :
    ?I?m a bit sur­prised that Doug is mak­ing such a rudi­men­ta­ry mis­take in log­ic and bib­li­cal exe­ge­sis. Just because the word ?whoso­ev­er ? is used, it doesn?t mean that it must apply to every­one, in every cir­cum­stance. In fact, it still has a con­text that must be considered.

    For exam­ple, if I say, ?Whoso­ev­er kills is a mur­der­er,? I?m not talk­ing about rape or incest. In a vac­u­um, maybe Doug is right. How­ev­er, this text isn?t in a vac­u­um. The word ?whoso­ev­er ? is fol­lowed by a descrip­tion of a cer­tain kind of per­son and a cer­tain sin. There­fore, Doug hasn?t rebutted anything.?

    DOUG
    Gastrich?s point is unclear. Gas­trich says noth­ing that dam­ages my case for a con­tra­dic­tion. It is pre­cise­ly because the word ?whoso­ev­er ? is fol­lowed by a spe­cif­ic descrip­tion that we can gen­er­ate the contradiction.

    Quote :
    Mark 10:11 : Whoso­ev­er shall put away his wife, and mar­ry anoth­er, com­mit­teth adul­tery against her. And if a woman shall put away her hus­band, and be mar­ried to anoth­er, she com­mit­teth adultery.

    So any­one who does as Jesus describes com­mits adul­tery. I have not only con­sis­tent­ly referred to this descrip­tion, I have put it into log­i­cal nota­tion for clar­i­ty. (See pre­vi­ous posts.) Why Gas­trich says this means that I haven?t rebutted any­thing is anyone?s guess. Lat­er when Jesus explains how it is pos­si­ble to divorce one?s wife, mar­ry anoth­er, and NOT com­mit adul­tery (Matthew 19:9), we have a clear contradiction.

    I can?t see that Gas­trich has said any­thing in this fourth post to show that there is no con­tra­dic­tion. And he says noth­ing about oth­er vers­es I?ve cit­ed (Matt. 5:31 – 32, 1 Cor. 7:10 – 11, Rom. 7:2 – 3, and Deut. 24:1 – 2) that com­pound the prob­lem. This makes his attempts to refute me all the more ineffective.

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