Devout Muslims take their marriage seriously because in Islam divorce is disliked and should be considered the very last resort for a bad or strained relationship. If problems arise in a marriage, both parties should seek to solve through family intervention if their own efforts bear no fruit. Islamic divorce procedure is vastly different from the western one, mainly because it is based on very well defined, unchangeable, yet easy and just rulings. Judicial system works more efficiently in countries governed by the Islamic shari’ah because of these characteristics. Hence Muslims living in an Islamic society are at an advantage in this matter. They know what to expect both in cases of marriage and divorce, and everything is taken care of by the Islamic court itself. The west does not have such a beneficial system. Constantly changing laws can raise havoc there in such matters. Moreover, one has to hire an expensive attorney that not everyone can afford and hope to get an unbiased judge.
In Islam divorce is not such a simple thing as it is misunderstood by some people. It has certain rulings, and is forbidden under certain circumstances. It is legally forbidden to pronounce divorce during a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle and if the couple has had intercourse after her last monthly period. This prohibition addresses a few pertinent matters. For one, a woman is likely to experience emotional ups and downs during menstruation. This in turn creates more stress and may deter any reconciliation. If divorce is pronounced to a woman during this time, she may tend to be more emotional, cause undue trauma for her and her family. After the pronouncement of divorce, an additional waiting period of three monthly cycles must pass in order to facilitate any possible reconciliation. If the woman is pregnant, the waiting time is until the birth of the baby regardless of the length of the time. The Muslim man, regardless of his desire for divorce at this time must wait out the entire period of pregnancy. In other words, he cannot abandon his wife while she is carrying their child. He must continue to maintain her throughout the pregnancy, and possibly after the childbirth when divorce is finalized. The mother can nurse her child and is entitled to get support from its father until it reaches the age of two. If the mother refuses, the husband must be prepared to hire someone else as a nurse.
The waiting period as prescribed acts as a buffer. Divorce is stressful enough for both the parties concerned. The waiting period is often a time for reconciliation, which is permissible and even desirable. Whatever the circumstances may be, Islam forbids cruel treatment of either partner, and equitable, humane respect is expected from every person involved. Islamic divorce does not take place publicly in front of a judge or in a courtroom full of strangers. Consciousness of God as an omnipresent power is a fundamental underlying force in Islam; therefore, Muslim men and women are expected to be responsible at all times, even during the delicate process of divorce. Due to the element of religious and moral uprightness required of Muslims and because Islam has defined everything, making a divorce public would not be beneficial.
In Islam the general grounds for divorce are simple and humane. It is the inability of either the husband or the wife to continue keeping their marital duties. It might be that one simply cannot live peacefully or compassionately with the other. It is inhumane to force a person to stay with someone under duress. Some acceptable reasons to justify a wife’s request for divorce include a husband being absent for an extended period without his wife’s consent, he being neglectful of his wife and her needs, inability or unwillingness on his part to provide for his wife, excessive financial stress, or the inability to reproduce. Circumstances which require dissolution are when a wife accepts Islam but the husband does not or if either partner denounces his/her faith. Also if the marriage contract is found to be incorrect or void due to falsification or error, a divorce must take place.
Quran says regarding divorce:
The divorce is final after waiting period is finished.
The couple may now go their separate ways. For children under the age of two, the mother is given custody for the purpose of breastfeeding. The father is at this time required to pay for the maintenance of the mother and child until the child reaches the age of weaning; (Surah Talaq 65:1)
And at another place, it says:
If no agreement is reached by the parents concerning custody, the child is normally retained by the mother during preschool years and then may be given to the father, unless it against the best intrests of the child. (Surah Baqarah 2:233)
It must be understood that the Muslim men are forever the wards and providers for their children even after the divorce. This means that children in Islam are protected by this command, unlike in the west where “deadbeat dads” exist. In case where father is granted the custody of children, he cannot forbid the mother from seeing, keeping contact with or visiting her children. This is anti-Islamic and would be cruel. In Islam divorce does not mean the end of parent-child relationship. One of the prerequisites to enter Heaven is that one has been good to and has honoured the womb which bore him.
A couple may be divorced twice, after which they may remarry. However, after the third divorce it is forbidden to reconcile until the woman has first married another man with the intention of permanence. Then she must have been widowed or divorced from the second husband. This forces couples to be very careful about their actions and words towards one another and does not allow for the ease of divorce to be abused or taken for granted. Divorce in Islam has been made easy, but not so easy that people will take advantage of it.