Monday, June 24, 2002
Dear Bilqis, Asalaamu Alaykum,
I would like to know about divorce. As I was reading about divorce there was something I am unclear about. In Islam it says that if a man gives his wife divorce and if he is to take her back first she must remarry someone else. May I ask what this means exactly as I am not clearly undestanding and the reason why must the women remarry someone else before going back to the first husband. Also why not the husband remarry before going back to his wife.
Please note that at no stage am I challenging any Islamic rules, it's just that it is a grey area for me and I am not able to understand it fully. I look forward to hearing from you.
- Trying to Understand
Dear "Trying to Understand",
Zawaj.com has a few articles that will provide you with essential background information on divorce in Islam such as Divorce in Islam, and Divorce in the Shari'ah. These should give you a better understanding of the subject. I did not find a scholarly response to your question as to why a woman must remarry in the case of an irrevocable divorce while this is not required of the man. I'm sure there is one though.
I think we can agree that the premise in Islam is that though male and female have mutual rights and responsibilities toward one another, there yet remains significant differences between the two sexes often related to their physical and emotional make up. All parts of Islamic Law dealing directly with the interaction of the male and the female are based in this truth. For example, in marriage, a Muslim man may marry up to four times (provided he can fulfill the Islamic requirements of such a marital situation), while Muslim women can only have one husband (except in cases of divorce or becomong a widow). It seems to be a precautionary measure for women to avoid seeking divorce frivolously or without serious thought. I hope this helps.
I would like to add a few points to Bilqis' answer Insha'Allah. Reem Sultan, in the article mentioned above ("Divorce in Islam"), writes,
"Before the advent of Islam, divorce was considered to be a frivolous affair by which an angry man could throw his wife out of the house without any valid reason, leaving the unfortunate woman with no recourse to any legal procedure nor any right to maintenance from him. Pagan Arabs used to divorce their wives at any time, arbitrarily. They also used to revoke the divorce, and then pronounce divorce again and repeat the game as many times as they could ' They would, at their pleasure, mistreat the wife, and accuse her of adultery, misconduct, or disobedience. Thus smearing her reputation, which would deter other suitors."
Because of this tendency of men to act rashly by declaring divorce in moments of anger - and I believe from personal observation and study that this is a universal phenomenon - Allah put within the Islamic system certain brakes, or inhibitors, to slow down the divorce process and give all parties reasons to reconsider. Thus the 'iddah, or waiting period, before the divorce becomes final.
However, if the husband cannot control himself, or if he imagines that he can hold divorce over his wife's head by divorcing her repeatedly, then taking her back before the 'iddah expires, he is wrong. He can take her back two times only. Upon the third pronouncement of divorce it is final and irrevocable. The man cannot remarry the woman. He has forfeited that privelege.
The only exception to this rule is that if it happens that in the normal course of affairs the woman meets and marries another man, with the full intention of remaining married to him in the Islamic marriage bond, and if it happens that in the normal course of affairs that marriage ends in divorce or the death of the husband, and if the first husband at some later point wishes to remarry the woman, it is allowed if she agrees.
No man would want his wife to be with another man, and this therefore serves as yet another precautionary measure to make him think twice before divorcing his wife impulsively or in anger.
In addition, it is quite possible that the woman's marriage to the second man may last many years, or even decades, and it is hoped that in the process of sharing their lives with others, and the passage of time, the original husband and wife may have learned some valuable lessons about life and marriage, so that if they were to marry again perhaps they will not take one another for granted the second time.
However, it is absolutely forbidden to manipulate this process by deliberately marrying a second man with the intention of divorcing him shortly afterwards in order to remarry the first husband. This is making a mockery of Allah's laws and is completely contrary to the spirit of the Islamic injunctions. The woman, in marrying the second man, must fully intend to stay with him as husband and wife. And Allah is the judge of that as He sees our hearts fully.
- Wael Hesham Abdelgawad, Zawaj.com Editor and Administrator