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This article is written by Huma Kirmani. You can get in touch with her on Facebook and Twitter.

What are the rights of women in divorce process as per Islam

Divorce rates are increasing at an alarming rate in the Muslim world. While divorce, called ‘talaq’ in Arabic is a legal, halal way for dissolution of marriage, it is considered one of the most disliked of halal rights exercised. Islam lays out the ground rules of divorce in a very clear and straightforward way. A woman should know her rights because most people don’t have proper knowledge of Islamic law.


Credit: Hernán Piñera. Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

O Prophet! When you people divorce your wives, divorce them according to their waiting periods, and count accurately this waiting period, and fear God your Lord. [During this waiting period], do not turn them out of their houses, nor should they [themselves] leave, except in case they are guilty of some open lewdness. These are the bounds set by Allah and [you should know that] those who transgress the bounds of Allah, it is they who wrong their own souls. You know not that God might thereafter create new circumstances. (Surah Talaq, Ayat 1)

The term talaq is commonly translated as “repudiation” or simply “divorce”. Talaq is a rising issue in Pakistan, with the divorce rate being higher than ever today.

Talaq is the most disliked of all that Allah made halal:

It is said by Allah SWT that it is the most disliked thing amongst everything made Halal by Him. Nikah is an honorable Islamic contract which is supposed to be accepted by two mature minds. But if it is getting exceedingly difficult to stay in nikah, despite sincere efforts of patience and understanding from both spouses, it is a legal way prescribed in Islam to part ways.

Many couples choose to stay in unhappy marriages for so many different reasons. Sometimes it is a societal pressure and sometimes a way to continue giving a stable environment to the children, who, otherwise, would suffer immensely because of separation.

Islam protects the rights of women even in the process of divorce:

As with everything, Islam teaches us the etiquette of executing a divorce as discussed in the ayah mentioned above. In a society where the majority lack education, divorce is taken as a right by male chauvinism. An uneducated man would make a derogatory attempt out of this whereas, an educated man would know that this is a halal legal way given by Allah SWT and should not be misused. Sadly in our society, talaq shuts every door for a woman and it is considered as a mark of humiliation for her. The truth can’t be farther from this; even at this critical time, Islam teaches us to protect the right of the woman who is going through a divorce.

Divorce Etiquette In Islam:

Islam is a way of life and as with every other matter, Allah SWT gives clear commands regarding executing divorce and treating a would-be ex wife in a decent, honorable way. Allah SWT says in Surah Talaq, ayah 7:

“Lodge them (the divorced women) where you dwell, according to your means, and do not harm them so as to straiten them (that they be obliged to leave your house). And if they are pregnant, then spend on them till they lay down their burden. Then if they give suck to the children for you, give them their due payment, and let each of you accept the advice of the other in a just way. But if you make difficulties for one another, then some other woman may give suck for him (the father of the child). (6) Let the rich man spend according to his means, and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. Allah will grant after hardship, ease.”

Divorce should be given when a woman is not menstruating and is in her that neat and clean period, in which sexual intercourse is not done. Woman can be divorced if she is pregnant. It should be noted that divorce will be still valid if it is granted according these Quranic instructions. However, in this case it will be considered sinful.

While divorcing a woman, man should have two witnesses. Please note that having witnesses is better for both parties, otherwise divorce will still be legally valid without witness too.

Observing the Iddah Period:

After having divorce, woman should stay at her husband’s home till the end of iddah i.e. three menstrual periods. Iddah period of old women is three lunar months if she is no more menstruating. She should not leave her husband’s home till the end of iddah nor should her husband force her to leave. During iddah period, husband is responsible to bear expenses of his divorced wife. If divorced wife is pregnant, the man is responsible to bear all her expense till delivery and expense of his child after birth as well.

Announcing ‘talaq!’ Three Times In a Go:

Often it happens that talaq is brought up in extreme cases of anger and frustration. In such a state of mind, it is quite common to announce “talaq!” three times, hoping to scare the other partner. Allah SWT has created us and hence He knows how this psychology works and how anger can take over all sense of logic and reason. Talaq when uttered three times in a go is not valid. However, if a man has uttered it once, he may still revert to his wife in three-months duration. Allah SWT says in the Quran,

“Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this [period] if they want reconciliation. And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (2:228)

Uttering it the second or third time, in a case where it has not been uttered immediately after the first, may pose some complications.

“Divorce is twice. Then, either keep [her] in an acceptable manner or release [her] with good treatment.” (2:229)

There may be a way for reconciliation between husband and wife in cases of two talaqs but once it has been given for the third time, there will be no chance to revive this relationship and the divorce is final. Even if the couple wishes to reunite, they cannot do so unless there is halala (more on that in later posts).

Allah SWT says in the Quran,

“And if he has divorced her [for the third time], then she is not lawful to him afterward until [after] she marries a husband other than him. And if the latter husband divorces her [or dies], there is no blame upon the woman and her former husband for returning to each other if they think that they can keep [within] the limits of Allah . These are the limits of Allah, which He makes clear to a people who know.” (2:230)

Allah SWT has laid out all the rules of procedure and conduct in the Quran in a very straightforward and concise way. There is no confusion left as such. The concept of talaq is straightforward in the Quran, any contravention in this law will not bring divorce into effect.

We need to bring awareness to our society, especially to our women so they should not only know their rights and duties, but so that they may also educate their children and families.

This article is written by Huma Kirmani. You can get in touch with her on Facebook and Twitter.