Does a Long Separation Amount to Divorce?
Does Long Separation Break a Nikah in Islam?
Name of Mufti: Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi
Source: IslamOnline.net, August 3 2004
As-Salamu `alaykum. If a husband and wife fight each other and after that they do not talk for 3 to 4 years, does this affect their nikah (marriage)?
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear sister in Islam, thank you for your question, which shows how concerned you are to abide by the Shari`ah in all details of your life. May Allah help us all lead a righteous life based on Islam!
First of all, it should be clear that marriage in Islam is a solemn contract for which the Shari`ah lays down rules and arrangements to guarantee its stability.
The spouses should avoid fighting or divorce as much as possible. If they have difficulties and problems they should be patient and forbearing. They have to try to work out their differences and seek help from their relatives, friends, or professional counselors.
In response to your question, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, states:
It is not right for husband and wife to break their relations for such a long time. If there are differences, then they should try to reconcile as soon as possible. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) urged Muslims to reconcile their differences within three days. The one who begins the reconciliation receives the greater reward and blessings from Allah.
However a severance due to strained relationship does not affect the nikah, however long it lasts. They are still husband and wife. If the husband does not reconcile with his wife and remains severed from her, she has a right to file for divorce and take a legal divorce through the court.
But if a husband separates from his wife with an oath that he will not have conjugal relations with her, then he has only four months to reconcile. According to the Qur’an, this is called ila’. [In Shari`ah, ila’ means that the husband swears that he will not have sexual intercourse with his wife, either for an unrestricted period or for more than four months.] Allah says, “Those who swear that they will not go into their wives, the waiting period is four months. Then if they go back, Allah is surely Forgiving, Merciful. If they resolve on a divorce, then Allah is surely hearing and knowing.” (Al-Baqarah: 226-227). At the end of four months if he has not reconciled verbally or in action, then the wife has the right seek divorce through the court. And the judge can grant divorce to her.