Thursday, January 31, 2008

Divorce In Islam - The Quranic Perspective

As a student of Quran, I am giving below questions that deal with the issue of divorce. There are lot of misconceptions regarding this issue which I hope can be removed. I would like your opinion on aspects which you think need to be highlighted. I have given references of verses and they are posted at the end. I have dealt with Divorce in the following with purely Quranic point of view - nothing else.

Q. Does pronouncing 'talaq' (divorce) 3 times nullify a marriage bond? “my husband pronounced the word 'divorce' more than three times, the first time we were back together within the iddat but the second time he said the word more than three times, and within a week he told me that he was in anger and he did not mean to divorce me.”
A. No. Uttering the word ‘talaq’ or divorce 3 times does not nullify a marriage bond. You have to appoint an arbiter from both the sides (4:35 - Sura Nisa Verse 35). It is a 'process' whereby husband and wife choose to separate. Its does not rest upon the whims of the husband.

Q. Does divorce take effect immediately?

A. There is a 4 month period for the divorce to take effect when the husband and wife decide to divorce (2:226). If they want to reconcile - more the better. After 4 months, the Divorce takes effect but a woman can not remarry as she has to wait for 3 menstrual cycles (iddat) (2:228). Both can still reconcile but after the end of this period, divorce is final and for that 2 witnesses have to be present (65:2).

Q. Can the divorce be given during pregnancy?

A. Divorce is a process. An arbiter from both sides has to be appointed (4:35). There is a 4 month period for the divorce to take effect (2:226) and so there is no issue of divorce taking effect when the wife is pregnant, she is menstruating, the husband was intoxicated, the husband was angry, he sent divorce through email, he did not mean it or he was joking.

Q. Is it true that Islam has vested the right to divorce with the husband only and not the wife?

A. This is not true. It is a process whereby husband and wife decide to divorce. (2:227)

Q. Is forced divorce accepted as divorce in Islam?

A. As already stated, it is a process and not a unilateral action by a certain person. Furthermore you have to have 2 witnesses in case of divorce to take effect (65:2). Witnesses are for the purpose that forced divorce does not take place. Arbiters from both the parties are to be appointed as well (4:35).

Q. What is 'Iddat' according to Quran?

A. 'Iddat' according to Quran are 3 menstruation cycles that a divorced woman has to observe before marrying again. This is to check for pregnancy. (2:228)
As for women who have reached menopause - their iddat is 3 months.
For women who are not menstruating for any reason - their iddat is 3 months.
For women who do not menstruate and are pregnant- their iddat ends when they deliver the child (65:4).

Q. What if someone does not observe 'iddat'?

A. There are guidelines in Quran for observing iddat and not otherwise. It will be better to observe iddat because it will remove a lot of ambiguities (perhaps). What is the hurry any way in remarrying?

Q. Can the husband evict the wife from house during the 3 month course?

A. She cannot be evicted from the house during this time (65:1).

Q. What if the husband is abusive and the woman does not want to stay with him? Should a woman stay in the same house during this waiting period?

A. There is no restriction on her to stay in the same house during this course.

Q. But Verse (65:1) states that she should stay at the same place?

A. In my opinion, the verse states the responsibilities of husband and wife. He can not evict her from the house and she is advised to better stay put. This is a general guideline so that reconciliation between the two can take place. As the verse states... "...Thou knowest not: it may be that Allah will afterward bring some new thing to pass."

Q. I have read that when the husband divorces his wife, she will have to spend her ‘Iddat’ in the matrimonial home. She must not leave the house during the day nor at night. Is it true?

A. Nowhere the wife is restricted to spend the ‘iddat’ at the husbands place and she is not prohibited from leaving the house as well.

Q. What if the divorced woman has no where to go, what should be done?

A. After the divorce, the husband is not allowed to force the wife out of the home and he is not allowed to misbehave with her (65:6 and 2:231). She can stay at the same place.

Q. Can a husband force the wife to stay with him after divorce?

A. He can not keep her with him against her wish if she does not want to stay at that place (2:231).

Q. I have heard that a Muslim woman is not entitled to ongoing maintenance. Is it true? Shall a divorced woman be provided for maintenance?

A. A divorced woman can not be forced out of the house by the husband (65:6). The ex-husband has to provide for her according to his means (2:241), of course it has to be an equitable provision (65:7).

Q. I have read that 'A woman observing the Iddat should neither go out of the house nor remarry, nor indulge in beautifying herself through make-up. Is it true?

A. She is only disallowed to re-marry. She can do whatever she pleases to do otherwise.

Q. Can the ex-husband and wife come back again after divorce?

A. Yes they can (2:232).

Q. What if the husband is missing for 60 days? Does divorce take effect?

A. Quran is silent when either of the spouse is 'missing' for any reason for whatever number of days. The reason for this is that it is left for the individual/ court or State to decide what is the best possible means to protect or promote the interests of either of the spouse. So do what is deemed best.

If you find this information useful or otherwise, do comment.

Quranic References:

4:35 - And if ye fear a breach between them twain (the man and wife), appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they desire amendment Allah will make them of one mind. Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Aware.

2:226 - Those who forswear their wives must wait four months; then, if they change their mind, lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

2:227 - But if their intention is firm for divorce, Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

2:228 - Women who are divorced shall wait, keeping themselves apart, three (monthly) courses. And it is not lawful for them that they should conceal that which Allah hath created in their wombs if they are believers in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands would do better to take them back in that case if they desire a reconciliation. And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.

2:231 - When ye have divorced women, and they have reached their term, then retain them in kindness or release them in kindness. Retain them not to their hurt so that ye transgress (the limits). He who doeth that hath wronged his soul. Make not the revelations of Allah a laughing-stock (by your behaviour), but remember Allah's grace upon you and that which He hath revealed unto you of the Scripture and of wisdom, whereby He doth exhort you. Observe your duty to Allah and know that Allah is Aware of all things.

2:232 - When ye divorce women, and they fulfil the term of their ('Iddat), do not prevent them from marrying their (former) husbands, if they mutually agree on equitable terms. This instruction is for all amongst you, who believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is (the course Making for) most virtue and purity amongst you and Allah knows, and ye know not.

2:241 - For divorced women Maintenance (should be provided) on a reasonable (scale). This is a duty on the righteous.

65:1 - O Prophet! When ye (men) put away women, put them away for their (legal) period and reckon the period, and keep your duty to Allah, your Lord. Expel them not from their houses nor let them go forth unless they commit open immorality. Such are the limits (imposed by) Allah; and whoso transgresseth Allah's limits, he verily wrongeth his soul. Thou knowest not: it may be that Allah will afterward bring some new thing to pass.

65:2 - Then, when they have reached their term, take them back in kindness or part from them in kindness, and call to witness two just men among you, and keep your testimony upright for Allah. Whoso believeth in Allah and the Last Day is exhorted to act thus. And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, Allah will appoint a way out for him,

65:4 - And for such of your women as despair of menstruation, if ye doubt, their period (of waiting) shall be three months, along with those who have it not. And for those with child, their period shall be till they bring forth their burden. And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, He maketh his course easy for him.

65:6 - Lodge them where ye dwell, according to your wealth, and harass them not so as to straiten life for them. And if they are with child, then spend for them till they bring forth their burden. Then, if they give suckle for you (off-spring), give them their due payment and consult together in kindness; but if ye make difficulties for one another, then let some other woman give suckle for him.

65:7 - Let him who hath abundance spend of his abundance, and he whose provision is measured, let him spend of that which Allah hath given him. Allah asketh naught of any soul save that which He hath given it. Allah will vouchsafe, after hardship, ease.

Check My Other Posts:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Child Marriage and Islam

There is a very interesting post at Buzzvines having a picture in which an elderly Afghan is being shown as a groom to a supposedly 11 year old bride. The discussion based on this picture covers the area of child marriage and Islam. Whether child marriages are allowed in Islam, prohibited or condoned.

Child marriage as a phenomenon does exist in Muslim countries unfortunately. And more unfortunately it is traced back to Prophet Muhammad whom we muslims love to make a 'scapegoat'. Yes I am using this term because from this issue to an other where he is supposedly explaining motion of planets with a very poor knowledge of astronomy or where he is supposedly telling about various herbs to cure an ill - we muslims lovingly put the esteemed person's life in every possible difficult situation to which he had not even a remote connection.

Quran deals with variety of people and situations - marriage being one of them. Quran does not state specifically whether one can marry a child or that it is prohibited. Islam does consider marriage a sacred bond and requires parties to be 'aware' of what they are doing.

Consider the following verse..

4:24 - .... And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done). Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise.

This verse talks about commencement of marriage and giving of dowry by the groom to the bride. This verse is stating that if bride and groom want - they can 'mutualy' agree on dowry. Now mutual agreement requires that both parties are mature enough to know what they are doing. Can a child possess this maturity? Does a girl 11 years old knows what she is doing? The answer is a 'No'. The 'mature' aspect of parties is not restricted to marriage only but also to Divorce (2:232) and matters related to Orphans (4:06).

Now the question is.. who is a 'mature' person? Or what is the age of 'majority'? Of course Islam does not mention it anywhere. Usually a person is called a 'major' if he/ she is 18 years of age or older - below than that is a 'minor'. This is the legal definition in most of the countries.

In Pakistan, law requires that bond of marriage be registered ('nikah nama' is the proof). Although there is no age restriction for getting married, the groom and the bride 'are supposed' to be aware of what they are signing on. It states conditionalities and rights including matters related to divorce. Only a mature person would know what he/ she is dealing with. All the discussion above is indicative of the fact that marriage is not a childs play.

That being said, how can we counter the phenomenon of Child Marriage. For one we can inform people not to put religion as a basis to child marriage because this is not the case. Two, we can impress upon people to use their common sense! How on earth can you make a child become party to marriage?! This is sheer injustice! If the society condones it then make sure that norms change! Even go for regulations in Law to stop child marriages!

Child marriage is an abominable act. Do not do it.

Update (19th November 2008)

A visitor dropped a very useful link here, it basically debunks the myth that Prophet Muhammad married Ayesha at the age of 9. Do read it. Thank you Saadia.

Also Check My Posts On:
1 - Divorce in Islam - The Quranic Perspective
2 - Polygamy In Islam- The Quranic Perspective

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hatshepsu - Woman Pharoh with a Beard!

Time for another lecture on Egyptology :p I have posted about Akhenatun, Tutankhamun and Nefertiti before and now its time for another strong woman of Egypt named Hatshepsu. She was of the earlier rulers of the 18th dynasty whereas the 3 posts I made earlier were pharohs of later 18th dynasty. She was born around 1508 B.C.

Hatshepsu is famous for the building legacy that her reign had, leader of victorious army, trade openings and her beard!

(Click here for the picture - All Pictures courtesy wikipedia)

Yes! She is depicted in statues as pharoh with a beard indicating she possessed the pharonic powers. It is very rare that a woman rules Egypt but Hatshepsu was not an ordinary woman.

When her husband Thuthmose II died, the successor would have been Thuthmose III (son from an other wife) but since he was young so Hatshepsu was made queen regnant. She ruled for some 20 years or more and her reign is considered as one of the finest that Egypt had witnessed.

She won battles against her enemies, made peace and focussed more on trading. The wealth that she earned trading was spent in the most grandeur of architectures Egypt has ever seen. The most awe-inspiring is Deir el-behri complex. It still stands at the entrance of Valley of the Kings with all its grandeur.

(Click here for the picture - All Pictures courtesy wikipedia)

She built 6 colossal obelisks (stone pillars). Only on remains at its original place. She also has a sphinx of herself which is now placed in a New York museum.

She had the master builder Senemut at her service to build these magnificient architectural pieces. Some believe that they both were lovers but all of this is shrouded in secrecy in tombs and chambers because Hatshepsu was a royal and Senemut a low Egyptian!

The identification of Hatshepsu's mummy is another fascinating story. Dr Zahi Hawas, famous Egyptologist narrates everything in the Discovery documentary on her. They had to identify Hatshepsu's mummy from amongst the 4 mummies they had with them. Quite a documentary! Must See!

She was succeeded by Thuthmose III who, quite strangely, went on a defacing spree against Hatshepsu. Egyptologist say that this was done not because of hatred or male bias rather 'removing' a certain individual from a lineage and giving strength to their own claim on regency.

Check My Other Posts on Egyptology

- Nefertiti - The Most Beautiful Woman in World
- The First Monotheist - Akhenaten
- King Tut
- Cleopatra - The Last Pharoh
- Your Name in Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dance, Music and 'Kanjar'

(Horrible title honestly)

Have you seen that program on an Indian satellite channel in which children show their singing prowess? Called Chotay Ustaad something, the kids are amazing. So much talent. The other night our very own Ghulam Ali was invited on the program. My interest was raised because a Pakistani maestro was invited on an Indian show. What always amazes me is the respect that singers receive in India and the regard and warmth that Ghulam Ali was receiving.. it was absolutely mind blowing.

And then I thought of ourselves. The plight that arts, artists and especially classical singers find themselves in Pakistan. In yesteryears when only PTV was on tube, a program used to get aired on classical music called 'Raag Rung'. And man we used to have a laugh! What the hell were those guys up to making weird faces and sounds! Totally boring program otherwise!

I know if I tell this to a certain friend of mine about the Indian program he'll say 'Wo to hain he kanjar'! That is really unfortunate. Music in our society still finds itself under taboos. The religio-socio mix has certainly kept its grip. Quran, of course, no where states that Music is 'haram'. It is not devils voice or its worship. And NO! music does not create devil-induced sensations in you! hehe! How dumb is that by the way?!

The children in India are taught dance and music! We here cant even imagine that! Leave alone music.. where the hell did dance come in?! thats the domain of 'maha-kanjar' I presume? If a program containing dance competition ever gets aired on a Pakistani Tv.. God help us! Hell would break loose. 'fahashi' and 'uryani' shouts will be everywhere. Will Nighat Choudry, Nahid Siddiqui and Sheema Kirmani's talents ever be recognized?

And I too am part of this society. All the lecture on music that I have given above, If someone asks me whether I will send my daughter for dance or music.. perhaps I will not. I might not be bound by religious aspects but would find it very difficult socially. But at least I will not treat others who are doing so as 'kanjars'. I know there are people who do and appreciate arts especially dance and music, I give them the same respect as I would to any other human being.

Oh this post hurts.

Check My Other Post

- Is Music Prohibited In Islam?

Monday, January 14, 2008

How Apt

"Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy"
- Henry Kissinger

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Michael Schumacher Vs Sebastian Loeb

I am a fan of Formula 1 and World Rally Championship (WRC). I am a fan of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Loeb. Actually I like Marcus Gronholm more but Sebastian ends up winning more rallies :p hey everybody loves a champion so what :p

You must have heard that recently Michael Schumacher had to take over the steering wheel of the taxi he was a passenger in when he and his family were going to airport. There was more traffic on road and they were getting late. The taxi driver was a bit, lets say, slow (I am sure this must have been Schumacher's statement :p) Anyways... Michael took over the taxi and made it to the airport in time! leaving the taxi driver in passenger seat amazed at his driving skills!

I was wondering what if Sebastian Loeb was in place of Michael Schumacher? Could he do it in even better time? Is a Formula 1 driver better in driving at ordinary roads as compared to rally driver?

Formula 1 seeks to make perfection even more perfect! Rally racing on the other hands demands excellence in handling and managing obstacles (road, car, conditions, weather etc). So logic would say that Sebastian would beat Michael! but my logic is usually very simple :p

(damn! a simple logic should be better right?!)

This is not to say that Sebastian Loeb is a better driver than Michael Schumacher. They are both a class in their own categories. The question is which driving ability would help maneuvering on ordinary road? What do you think? (yeah yeah.. same conditions for both. same car. same route :p)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

HappyNew Year?

This happened some years ago....

My Friend: Happy New Year!!
I: Idiot! Have you gone nuts?! Where the heck did happy new year come-in in the middle of the year!
My Friend: Its 1st Muharram.

I wish I had a camera and I could take my picture. I swear it must have been a picture of the most idiotic of creatures on the planet. So much for my muslim credentials!

p.s: Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Suicide Bombings - Opinions

When I was visiting my home this holiday season.. I got to interact with people on topics of suicide bombings. Why and Who Dunnit ones. Different people - different opinion! Just like them - I too am searching for the truth.

Here is one view. I was told by my friend "yara can you believe it.. 100s of young men, teenagers are missing after Lal masjid (Red Mosque) episode. They have seen charred human remains, naked dead bodies of young girls killed in the attack at the mosque. They could not believe it that a government could do this. So they left their homes for jihad. I personally know of a young electrical engineer who after watching the scenes at Lal mosque decided to go for Jihad." Would this electrical engineer end up as a suicide bomber?

Take another view. Innocent civilians are killed when security forces launch operation against 'militants' (sic). Now if you are a family member of one whose mother, sister, daughter, son is killed in an air raid or hit by artillery shell.. what would you do? Take revenge most probably. Suicide bombing anyone?

Then there is the type of suicide bombings being carried out by people as in Iraq and Afghanistan. There, the objective is to rid the Iraqi soil of 'invaders'. I do not know what proportion of those blowing themselves up are Iraqi nationals. In my opinion, they are most probably outside elements who want to hurt interests of America and her allies. And these outside elements , perhaps, are of the same mentality as operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Further, there are Abdur Rashid Ghazis of every sort that like to manipulate and control things and people for their own advantage. In Lal Mosque episode, he did not even hear the pleas of Imam e Kaaba. Implementation of shariah is just a facade! and Yes! I believe that he used students there as shield. I never believe in people who would see implementation of Islam by the use of force. If this was all intelligence-agencies drama, then Abdur Rashid Ghazi was the most dumb ass person around being manipulated like this by them.

The thing is that people are readily available as cannon fodder for the so called jihadist who are hell bent on achieving their vested interest - which certainly have no connection with Islam or service to it but rather power! Attaining power and thwarting their opponents which in the current context are America and her allies (both European or people funded by her at the helm of governments).

So what should be done to control this phenomenon. Well it has to be done on both sides of the divide.

America and her allies have to stop giving blind support to Israel in the Middle East conflict. Thats the most contentious issue that really pains muslims all over the globe. And this same issue is 'exploited' by the so called jihadist. Then the sufferings of the muslims on other parts of the world. They are branded terrorists, their religion tarnished. America supports dictators and suppresses genuine democracy in some of the muslim states. Did I forget politics of Oil? Yeah that too.

The responsibility lies on us 'muslims' as well. I personally believe that religion has played a role in 'support' of suicide bombings. Think of why a person would want to blow himself up? It has to be a very strong factor which overrides other 'rational' thoughts of achieving a cause by other means. A person under abject oppression, religious under pinnings and nationalism (in this order) in my mind can be the reason to follow such course.

As muslims we all believe in a life hereafter. We believe that we will inherit paradise after judgment-day (which just like in case of Jews - is an erroneous thought. Check my post "Why Only Muslims Will Enter Paradise?"). If you die like a martyr (shaheed) then more the better. You'll be in the company of the elite and fighting against infidels and giving your life would be martyrdom. America and her allies definitely come under infidel category. So this probably becomes the source to give your life. You are dying anyways so why not take some benefit out of it? Or perhaps its not that simple as I am stating it to be?

We muslims have to counter this. Suicide bombings is a vicious act. Why kill innocent people? By doing so.. how are you any different from your counterparts against whom you are fighting? they too killed innocent people. (Check my earlier post on suicide bombing)

Yes indeed atrocities have been committed. Government has, and is, reacted in incredulously stupid ways. My question is why only suicide bombing for the recourse? Why not protesting somewhere? why not beseech courts? why not voice your opinion in newspapers or blog! But I guess I can say all this because my family member has not been killed?