Islamic law of divorce possesses a clear distinction in comparison to the worldly laws and also the laws of divorce in other religions. The reason is obvious that Islamic law of divorce is based on divine revelation which is complete in every respect and unchangeable despite the passage of time. Needless to say that Allah’s Knowledge is all embracing and transcends the time and space. On the other hand, the worldly laws made by the eminent experts of law, cannot claim to be free from deficiencies and shortcomings because the human mind attains perfection after passing through some evolutionary processes. However, this perfection is timely, not for the ages. This is the reason that a law which deemed to be perfect at a particular period becomes faulty within a short span of time. The reason of excellence which the ‘Islamic law of divorce’ has over other religious laws especially Jew and Christian laws, is that though these laws were revealed by Allah to their prophets but later they were altered by their religious leaders. But the ‘Islamic law of divorce’ is guarded against such alterations as pronounced by Allah:
“And We will assuredly guard it.” (Al-Ḥijr: 09)
But, let it be beared in mind that here we mean by ‘Islamic law of divorce’ that has been described in the Holy Qur’ān, not the law which is prevalent nowadays in the Muslim society. This customary law does not have any preference at all over other religious laws of divorce. What to say about the preference, it now has become a subject of ridicule. The opponents of Islam often make mockery of it and ask the Muslims that what kind of Divine law is this which has empowered the man that whenever he wishes, he can nullify the bond of marriage having uttered simply the word of divorce three times verbally or in written form, without a least care that this hurried act will jeopardize the life of his wife and their children. But they do not know that this is not the ‘Islamic law of divorce’ and it cannot be; because the real Islamic law is based on complete justice as has been discussed in the forthcoming pages. But before proceeding further, some important points which have central position in the Islamic law of divorce are mentioned here because many Muslims are not aware of them.
Due to unawareness of the Muslims about the right method of divorce and misguidance by their religious scholars it is a common practice that the divorce is given instantly without giving due consideration to its consequences. It is, of course, an open violation of the law of divorce in Islam. Such type of divorce really does not occur and if it happens in a real Islamic country, the culprit will be given severe punishment. Therefore, the Muslims have been directed that if they want to divorce their wives, they can do so only when the following reformative measures failed:
The learned men know that the sentiments and feelings of the women are very delicate; they are like a mirror which is broken into pieces with a light hitting. That is the reason that they (women) become furious with their husbands over silly matters and sometimes their resentment turns into disobedience. In the view of this natural weakness of the women, the men have been advised that if they disobey them, in turn they should not take any hasty decision rather they should keep patience. The wisdom of the men lies in that they treat them graciously and repeatedly make them understand the grave consequences of their non-cooperative attitude. In spite of this sincere effort, if they don’t give up their disobedience then they (men) do separate them from their bed. And if this admonition also does not work and they do not abandon the path of rebellion, the light physical punishment may be unwillingly given to them. (Al-Nisāʾ: 33)
Many women and also men are of the view that Islam has extremely humiliated the women by ordering men to punish them physically. It is their misunderstanding. They look at the punishment but not its specific reason, that’s why they did not understand its relevance. [One Moroccan Muslim lady pleaded in a court of Germany that she wants divorce from her Moroccan husband because he beats her. The lady Judge, Christa Datz-Winter, rejected her plea and wrote in her decree that the Qur’ān permits to beat the women. Hearing this punishment, German politicians, experts of the law and even Muslim leaders objected strongly against this decision and said that the Judge was bound to give the decree in this case according to the statute of Germany instead of a religious order of the 7th century which was given under the specific circumstance of that period. The contemporary modern Muslim thinkers have rejected this old order. (The Times of India, Times International, 24/03/2007)]
The Qur’ān has suggested this punishment in order to avoid divorce. It shows how much the divorce is disliked in Islam. It allowed that the disobedient woman be slightly punished rather than divorcing her so that her own future and the future of her children may not be spoiled due to her silly behavior. Apart from this, the physical punishment has been suggested in case when the previous two measures (admonition and separation from the bed) have failed; Failure of these measures indicates clearly that she possesses the negative instinct in abundance. The separation of bed is a harsh punishment for a normal woman; if any woman bears this punishment and does not refrain from disobedience, it is meant that she is endowed with a rebellious nature. But, even then, Islam does not allow the man to divorce this defiant woman but suggests unwillingly to punish her as a remedial step. If physical punishment proves to be ineffective and the woman continues to disobey her husband then every just person will suggest that she must be divorced. But it is the excellence of Islamic law that it still does not take a harsh step and orders to appoint a jury consisting of two persons from both the families for trying to bring a reconciliation between the couples. It is the promise of Allah that if they sincerely wish to come to terms, He will unite them. (Al-Nisāʾ: 35)
However, if this last corrective effort also failed to resolve the marital conflict then the divorce can be given as per the direction of the Qur’ān and Sunnah (it will be mentioned later), not according to the custom that is commonly practiced today in the Muslim society, it is totally un-Islamic.