1. Is divorce a sin? Can a person be considered sinful for going through divorce even if it is done in the right way?
This depends on the reason for divorce. If it is given as a form of punishment when the partner is not at fault or is given because of cultural reasons that are non-Islamic then it would be deemed a sin. Marriage is a great responsibility and would need to be worked on. It is evident from the Hadith that Divorce is severely disliked; the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) said: “amongst lawful things, divorce is the most hated by Allah’. (Abu Dawud) The reason for this is that Allah (swt) has not only made divorce lawful, so that it can be used, but under other circumstances, it can be a reward i.e. the marriage is detrimental to each other and both would be happier if divorce is sought. They have tried to work things out but to no avail. Also if infidelity is found to be in a marriage then there is a right for divorce.
In general, Allah has made divorce lawful but marriage is to be taken seriously, if not then it can be a way to earn the anger of Allah.
- As punishment some men do not grant divorce to their now ex-wives, in a way to show power over them. What is the Islamic ruling on this?
It is not permissible and hence Haram for a man to use the withholding of divorce as a tool of punishment. If he intends to withhold divorce for the purpose of reconciliation then this is permissible, but if he chooses to abuse his right to give divorce then this is not permissible and a sin. A woman should seek guidance from Islamic Marriage councils as to how to obtain divorce in these situations.
- How come a man has to simply utter the words 'talaq' (divorce) 3 times and his wife is divorced- no questions asked?
Marriage is a verbal contract and therefore the responsibility is as great. When this contract is broken by uttering the words of divorce it will be taken as official. Allah has given a major responsibility to men and therefore marriage should be made based on religion rather than beauty, wealth or lineage. A man who understands his responsibilities under the Shariah will ensure that he does not abuse his position.
- Are the 3 'talaqs' meant to be used on one occasion or over three separate periods?
There are three ways divorce can be given.
- Hasan (Talaq Us Sunnah)
This is where the words divorce (x 1) are pronounced once every month over three months, i.e. three in total. This is where a man has time to think over the three months and then can choose to reconcile before he gives the third divorce. Once the third divorce is pronounced it will become irrevocable.
- Ahsan (More preferable)
One divorce is pronounced and then a period of three months (or three menstrual cycles) pass. This would then free the woman to remarry elsewhere. However if a man chooses to remarry the same woman after the three months then he can perform Nikah again and remarry. (He will then have two pronunciations of divorce left). This way there is room for reconciliation and is revocable.
This is disliked and should be avoided. It is when a man pronounces 3 Talaqs in one go. This then becomes binding and is irrevocable.
- If talaq is given 3 times in 1 go in anger can it be taken back?
Once talaq is given 3 times in 1 go or on 3 occasions in anger or irrationally (other than insanity or unconsciousness) then it cannot be taken back and become irrevocable.
- Can a woman ask for a divorce?
A woman has a right to ask for divorce but she cannot give divorce. If the husband refuses her request then she may apply to a Qadi (Islamic judge) and present her case. He would then look at the circumstances and may choose to annul the marriage.
7. Where do you find an Islamic judge (Qadi) in the UK? Different Qadi's all give different views...so how do you know who to go to?
There are many institutions that provide advice on this. The best way to determine whether it is the right answer is to go to the Madhab (school of thought) you follow; i.e. if you are Hanafi then ensure the panel is Hanafi.
8. Regarding the first case of getting divorced, when the husband says talaq once, during that month, are they allowed to live together and are they still a couple or do they live apart? If they decide to get back together, do they have to do nikaah again?
When a person says talaq once then if there is any intimacy or they choose to get back together within the iddat (waiting) period then they do not need to do Nikah again and they will be regarded as husband and wife. If a man has pronounced one or two divorces and they do not get back together again within the iddat period then she is free to marry somebody else. If they want to get back together again then they would have to perform Nikah again, however as long as 3 talaqs have not been uttered.
9. After a woman has been given a divorce (khullah) then why does she have an iddat- waiting period- before she can marry again? What is the waiting period as some say 1 month and others say 3?
The iddat period is for 3 menstrual cycles. This ruling ensures that if the woman is pregnant, she will be certain of who the father of the child is. If however, a woman gave birth to a child before the 3 months are over then her iddat period would finish.