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Divorce in Islam: Just the Facts
The Islamic religion, similar to many other organized religions, considers marriage to be a sacred union. Though it is possible for Islamic couples to get a divorce, it is highly frowned upon and great measures are taken to try to reconcile the couple prior to the finalization of any divorce.
The Quran outlines several guidelines for the procedure of a divorce in Islam:
- Followers of Islam feel that divorce is never something that should be taken lightly. Before any man begins the process of divorcing his wife there must be a valid reason for ending the marriage and the declaration must be made with a sound mind (the man must be an adult, and not threatened for life or property) and in the presence of at least two male witnesses, or one male and two female.
- Following the declaration of divorce, there is a waiting period of one to three months, in which the couple is to refrain from sexual relations. This waiting period is designed to give the husband time to reconsider his choice before the divorce is final, and to determine if the wife is pregnant, in which case the husband must provide for the infant and the wife while she is pregnant and nursing.
- At any point during the waiting period, the husband still holds marital authority over his wife and has the opportunity to change his mind and resume relations with his wife. There are limitations to this rule, however. According to the Quran, a man is only allowed to ‘divorce’ his wife twice, so if there is a third declaration of divorce, it is usually final immediately.
- If the husband decides not to take his wife back during the waiting period, and the wife is not pregnant or nursing, the couple will then be allowed to part ways peacefully. If children are involved, the husband will be required to provide for their needs as long as they are living in his home.
- A woman can divorce her husband in Islam through mediation in court, in which they come to an agreement for the return of all or a portion of the dowry presented to her family in the negotiation of their marriage. However, the court must agree that the wife has sufficient reason to divorce her husband, and her husband must accept the terms of their agreement.
Because the religion of Islam considers marriage to be a sacred bond, and because of the measures taken to reconcile couples with marital issues, the divorce rate in Islamic regions is significantly lower than other areas of the world. These statistics, however, leave several questions in the minds of those outside of Islam, the answers to which are difficult to obtain.