Compiled by Bilal Dannoun

Bilal Dannoun is a renowned Islamic and Civil marriage celebrant based in Sydney, Australia.  He is an experienced marriage counsellor, offering marital advice with a blend of Islamic texts and modern day research. 

General

  • Why do you want to get married? What are your expectations?
  • Have you been married before? How many times?
  • Are you married now?
  • Tell me about your education?
  • Do you have any particular habits I should know about?
  • Would you call yourself an introvert or extrovert?
  • What are 5 things that make life wonderful?
  • Have you learnt any lessons from a previous relationship?
  • “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half-shut afterwards.” Is this approach beneficial at times

Describe your top three perceived gender differences.

Relationship

  • Do you have a grand vision for your marriage? If so, what is it?
  • What are your needs in a relationship?
  • What can you offer your spouse; spiritually, emotionally, materially?
  • What do you expect from your spouse religious-wise, emotionally, and materially?
  • How do you believe the relationship between a husband & wife should be?
  • Do you believe that technology would enhance or disrupt your relationship?
  • Do you think it’s important to go to bed with your spouse at the same time?
  • Could you manage in a relationship that increased your personal power/wealth/social status, even if it lacked somewhat in love?
  • When you see me, do you think “There you are!” or “Here I am”?
  • Is life too short to stay in a marriage that hurts?
  • Would you like for your spouse to share your perspective and world view, or do you enjoy differences?
  • What do you perceive as your worst imaginable marriage partner?
  • How important is intellectual compatibility to you?
  • If trust is broken, are there ways it may be regained?
  • It has been said that “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person” (Mignon McLaughlin). What ways can this be achieved?
  • Do you think that some things should be left unsaid or is honesty the “best policy”?
  • “I never knew what real happiness was until I got married. And by then it was too late.” (Max Kaufman). Do you think these sorts of comments are hurtful or humorous?
  • What foundations do you think relationships should be built upon?
  • What do you think is the best preparation for a long term committed relationship?
  • Do you know how to give comfort?
  • What do you think your greatest strength would be as a spouse?
  • Describe two things you have in common and two differences (each).
  • How do you demonstrate/express love?
  • What is the greatest fear that you have for your spouse?
  • What things increase feelings of love?
  • Do you make assumptions about gender roles? (follow up question: “What role should your spouse have in the relationship?”).
  • What is one word that would describe this relationship?
  • Prince Phillip once said that “When a man opens the car door for his wife, it is either a new car or a new wife.” How would you rate the importance of manners and etiquette
  • in a relationship?
  • What means considerably more to you than your significant other?
  • To what extent do you think that a sense of individual freedom is a necessary component in a relationship?
  • Do you think falling in love is a big part of a relationship?
  • If one of us is in the public eye, how can we preserve our relationship?
  • Do you believe that there is a fine line between engaging in separate activities that will either enrich or move relationships apart?
  • “What counts is not how compatible you are but how you deal with incompatibility” (Leo Tolstoy). How does this quote make you feel?
  • Is there a project that you would like to collaborate with your spouse on?
  • In what ways do you think mutual encouragement can be facilitated to promote growth for your spouse?
  • In what ways would you like your spouse to provide assistance in.
  • “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” What place does comedy and laughter have in a marriage?
  • How do you think power in a marriage should be distributed?
  • In which areas are competence and incompetence attractive?
  • Is exclusivity a factor in experiencing love?

Religion

  • Does religion play a major role in your life? Do you practice its fundamental teachings?
  • Can you read the Qur’an in Arabic?
  • How many chapters from the Qur’an have you memorised?
  • Have you memorised any hadiths from the Prophet (peace be upon him)?
  • Do you adopt the ideas of any particular group? If so, why? Since when?
  • What is your relationship between yourself and your Muslim brethren in your area?
  • Have you ever volunteered for any Islamic, religious or social activities?
  • Is there anything in the religion that you feel doesn’t make sense? If so, please give your reasons why.
  • What is your stance on meat slaughtered by the people of the book in this country? Do you consider it Halal?
  • Do you eat food that contains ‘Gelatin’ that does not have any halal endorsement?
  • What would you sacrifice to achieve your goals? Would you bear in mind any Islamic principles or repercussions?
  • How does Islam infuse with your life?
  • Allah(SWT) encourages to reflect upon his creation. How is your relationship with nature?

Family & Home

  • Describe to me an ideal night in.
  • What’s the meaning of family for you?
  • How is your relationship with each of your family members?
  • What do you like to do with your family, and how often?
  • What do you expect your relationship with the family of your spouse to be?
  • What do you expect your spouse’s relationship with your family to be?
  • Is there anyone in your family living with you now?
  • Are you planning to have anyone in your family live with you in the future?
  • Do you mind having guests in your home on a regular basis?
  • What is your opinion of speaking other languages in the home that I do not understand such as with your family or friends?
  • What do you believe makes a house, a home?
  • Describe to me your dream home.
  • In an ideal world, where you would like to live?
  • 1Do you have a recipe for fostering a successful relationship with your family (in-laws)?

Friends

  • What qualities do you look for in a friend?
  • Who are your friends and how did you come to know them? (Identify at least 3)
  • What do you like most about them?
  • Do you have friends of the opposite sex? What is the level of your relationship with them now?
  • What will the level of your relationship with them be after marriage?
  • What type of relationship do you want your spouse to have with your friends?
  • What sort of relationship would you expect your spouse to have with his/her friends?
  • How do you make important and less important decisions in your life?
  • It was once said that “Only chose as a mate someone who you would also choose as a friend” (Keith Lamb). Does this statement resonate with you?
  • Is it okay to have separate friends that you associate with regularly?
  • Do you think it is important for your spouse to approve of your social circle?
  • Do you take preference over making new friends or established ones?

Anger, Abuse & Conflict

  • Does non-verbal communication play an important part in understanding someone?
  • Do you use foul language at home? In public? With family or friends?
  • Do your friends or family use foul language?
  • How do you expect your spouse to express anger?
  • When there is a dispute in your marriage, religious or otherwise, how should the conflict get resolved? When should mediation be initiated?
  • Can you let bygones be bygones?
  • What things make you angry?
  • What offence/action/statement would you find hard to forgive?
  • How do you manage anger?
  • Do you hear people out before interjecting?
  • Is it better to calm differences or to discuss it?
  • Can you peacefully agree to disagree on some issues rather than having either one of us sacrifice or conceal beliefs and values?
  • Do you think it is something positive to have differing views on “hot-topic” areas (such as politics)?
  • When something is wrong, do you pick up a mirror or a magnifying glass?
  • Do you process your issues internally or out loud?
  • Are problems categorised as mine, yours or ours?
  • Do you have any prejudices? What assumptions to you tend to make?
  • Is there a subject/area that you will fully avoid for the sake of keeping the peace?
  • Do you admit your mistakes?
  • Walk me through the way you to conflict or a crisis.
  • What would you do if you felt that you had been abused?
  • Who would you call for assistance if you were being abused?
  • If someone has wronged you, what do you think should be done? How do you want him/her to apologise to you?
  • Is there a dignified way to end a relationship?
  • Do you find it harder to forgive or forget?
  • “A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Are you able to easily forgive?
  • Do you collect conflict and injustices?
  • Are you able to separate the issue at hand from the person?
  • What would you think an “endearing” fault is?

Interests, Talents & Skills

  • Describe to me an ideal night out.
  • Tell me some of your passions and interests that you have had since you were a child.
  • In what ways do you like to relax?
  • Are you more of an outdoor or indoor person?
  • How do you think your spouse should spend his/her vacations or do in their free time?
  • Describe to me how you would spend a “perfect” day/
  • Do you prefer routine or spontaneity?
  • Have you/Are you being haunted by “if only” questions about your life journey?
  • Do you like to read? If so, what sort of books?
  • Where is your ideal travel destination and with whom?
  • Where would you like to travel together?
  • Are you more spontaneous or planned when it comes to having fun?
  • When you are leaving for a trip, do you start early or when you are ready?
  • How do you prevent boredom in your life?
  • Describe to me an environment that will allow your talents and ambitions to come to fruition.
  • Do you consider yourself competitive, and if so in what areas?
  • In what area are you most creative?
  • Do you have a hobby or interest that may have a negative effect on the relationship?
  • Are there any social occasions that bore you?
  • What skills to you possess?
  • Tell me which season of the year you enjoy the most.

Health

  • To what degree is physical appearance important to you?
  • Do you suffer from any chronic disease or condition?
  • Are you willing to take a physical exam by a physician before marriage?
  • What is your understanding of proper health and nutrition?
  • How do you support your own health and nutrition?
  • If I suffer from a disease (or currently am), how will you react to it?
  • If I am infertile, what would you do?
  • If any of the children are born disabled, how would you react to that?
  • Describe to me your relationship with food.

Money

  • Do you work? If so, where?
  • How do you think that your use of money will change after marriage?
  • Do you have any debts now? If so, how are you making progress to eliminate them?
  • Do you use credit cards?
  • How often do you splurge and on what?
  • Do you support the idea of taking Non-Islamic Bank loans to buy a new home?
  • What are you expecting from your spouse financially?
  • Do you support the idea of a working wife?
  • If so, how do you think a dual-income family should manage funds?
  • Are you investing in anything at the moment?
  • Is there a form of wastefulness that you particularly dislike?
  • What are your long term financial goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
  • Are you naturally a spender or saver?
  • Do you budget your finances? How do you think financial harmony be achieved?
  • To what degree is your happiness determined by worldly possessions?
  • Is your financial fantasy meeting your financial reality?
  • The cooperative shopping couple-reality or myth?

Work & Life

  • Do you love your job, pragmatically do your job, loathe your job or do your best to ignore it?
  • Does a career take precedence over a relationship?
  • Should changes that will impact on life be opportunities to be explored and embraced, or is it better to maintain the status quo?
  • It is a waste of time to…
  • What are some pros and cons of working together in any respect?

Children

  • Do you want to have children? If not, how come?
  • If yes, ideally, how many children would you like to have?
  • Does it matter whether they are girls or boys?
  • Your top 5 principles of parenting?
  • Do you support the idea of utilising baby sitters and/or maids?
  • To the best of your understanding, are you able to have children?
  • Do you want to have children in the first two years of marriage? If not, when?
  • Do you believe in abortion?
  • Do you have children now? If so, what is your relationship with them now (and their other parent)?
  • What kind of relationship would you expect your spouse to have with your children and their parent?
  • How would you like to raise your children? i.e.: morals, extra-curricular activities, education, friends etc.
  • What is the best method(s) of disciplining children? Do you believe in spanking children? Under what circumstances?
  • What type of relationship do you want your children to have with all their grandparents?
  • What type of relationship should your children have with non-Muslim classmates/friends?
  • How do you think children should be educated?
  • Do you believe in public, private (any) or private Islamic school for your children?
  • Do you believe in home schooling for your children?

You

    • How were you raised/disciplined? Do you like the way you were raised?
    • Do you have any particular insecurities about anything?
    • What is your idea of an ideal wedding (Walima) celebration?
    • They say that ‘Being heard is so close to being loved.’ Are you an active listener?
    • Can you make an anagram of your name?
    • Tell me about a recent stumbling block you experienced.
    • Tell me about a stepping experience you experienced.
    • When is it best to give you space?
    • What do you believe are the 3 most important influences that make who you are?
    • On a scale of 1-10, how tidy would you say you are?
    • Are you someone who is punctual and upholds appointments?
    • Do you say “yes” or “no” more often?
    • Are you good at communicating your daily schedule and appointments to others?
    • Were conflicts dealt with in a positive manner when you were growing up? How much of your attitude towards conflict changed since then?
    • What things contribute to your personal happiness?
    • It is said that “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing” (Albert Schweitzer). Do you lead by example or explanation?
    • What was your first impression when we met?
    • Are you possessive or sharing?
    • Considering that an indicator of future behaviour is reflection on past behaviour. Do you reflect and examine yours?
    • If you feel alone in the world, what do you do?
    • What habit would you like to modify?
    • Do you have a recurring dream or nightmare?
    • When and why have you felt suddenly older?
    • Is there a topic you tend to over-think?
    • Do you tend to be thoughtless or forgetful in a particular area?
    • How do you think you can make ordinary conversations extraordinary?
    • Do you give clear requests?
    • Do you like to discuss multiple or singular topics at the one time?
    • Do you take advice easily?
    • What things cause you anxiety?
    • Tell me of a situation where you showed courage.
    • Do you prefer to be nurtured or admired?
    • How do you like to be cared for when you are sick?
    • “I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved; the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.” (George Elliot). How often do you like feelings reaffirmed?
    • What are three moments in your childhood that stand out to you?
    • Are you an early bird or a night owl?
    • Do you practice self-reflection? If so, how?
  • Tell me what makes you feel appreciated.
  • Are you one for pet names?
  • Positivism and negativity. What one to you tend to give and what one do you think you receive?
  • How do you like to be approached when you are out of sorts?
  • Would you prefer to work through painful memories or repress them?

“I have an habitual feeling of my real life having passed.” Do you think you are truly living the life you want?
What gives you hope?

Aspiration & Goals

  • What are your thoughts of the future?
  • How much time have you spent in the past in preparation for the future?
  • If you could devote all your life for a cause, what would it be?
  • Where do you focus?
  • To what do you aspire?
  • How do you see yourself living your life as a retiree?
  • Do you think that it is important for spouses to share mutual goals and priorities?
  • “Grow old with me. The best is yet to be-the last of life for which the first was made”. What rewards do you hope of gaining during old age in a marriage?

⏱ 12 minute read

Know dear reader that Allah (s.w.t) has created things in pairs.  Those pairs must get together in certain ways in order for reproduction to occur.  The way for reproduction to occur amongst humans – males and females, is through marriage, known in Arabic as nikaah. Islam urges Muslims to marry, and prohibits pre-marital relationships.  Allah Most High says in the Qur’an:

“Marry the unmarried among you…” (24:32)

Also, Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w) in the hadith found in Bukhari and Muslim, commanded young people to marry, and advised those of them who could not afford it to fast as a means of controlling their sexual desire.  From an Islamic perspective, marriage is not viewed merely as a means of satisfying natural desires and passions.  Its goals are much deeper than just obtaining legal sex. Allah (s.w.t) points out one of the main objectives behind marriage by saying:

“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you might live with tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts (hearts)…” (Surat Ar-Room)

Therefore, the phenomenon of bachelorship or celibacy are UN-Islamic practices that result in devastation, effecting the Muslim community, and posing a threat to the Islamic world.  What devastation? What threat on the Islamic world? The answers to these questions are found in the non-Muslim communities.  Every day we hear and observe with our very eyes the perverted and sinful ways of the Kuffar (disbelievers).  These ways which they find acceptable in their societies have ultimately led to many types of diseases such as A.I.D.S, syphilis and the like, as a result of their choice to follow the unnatural way of abstaining from marriage.

The marriage contract is the formal bond that turns two individuals from strangers to husband and wife.  It is the most important contract that most people execute throughout their lives. Since the marriage contract has such great significance, the deen of Islam imposes a number of guidelines that it must fulfill. Many Muslims who are engaged in pre-marital relationships hold back from having the contract executed due to their ignorance about its elements.  So they continue to live a sinful lifestyle due to cultural influences which lead them thinking the process is too demanding.  Before delving into the basic elements of marriage, it worth mentioning here that marriage is a serious matter and should be dealt with seriously.  It is not allowed for a man to marry and then claim he did not really mean it, or that he was joking. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“There are three matters in which it is not permissible to joke: marriage, divorce, and emancipation (of slaves).” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Islamic marriage contract has conditions, requirements, pillars and optional elements.  A contract must fulfill the following conditions and pillars in order to be valid.

Eligibility of Bride and Groom

The first of these conditions is that both the bride and groom must fulfill certain requirements.  The groom must be a chaste Muslim having attained the age of puberty.  He must not be related to the bride by any of the permanently prohibiting blood, milk, or marital relationships such as his sisters, paternal and maternal aunts, daughters, grand daughters and others.  He must not be prohibited from marrying the bride for any of the temporary reasons stipulated in the Qur’an and Sunnah.  So if a man has four wives, all other women become temporarily prohibited from him.  Another example of a temporary reason is that as long as a man is married to a particular woman, all of her sisters become temporarily prohibited for him; that is he may not marry any of them unless he divorces their sister.  Others include: women married to other men, simultaneously marrying aunts and their nieces, adulteresses and prostitutes that have not sincerely repented, including others in which the Islamic shari ‘a may have listed.  The requirements a bride must fulfill is that she must be a  chaste Muslim, Christian or Jew.  She must not be married to another man, and must not be related to the groom by any of the permanently prohibiting blood, milk, or marital relationships in addition to not being prohibited from marrying the groom for any of the temporary reasons as stated above.

Bride’s Permission

The next required element of the marriage contract is the bride’s permission.  Without her permission, the contract is either null and void, or may be invalidated by the Islamic authorities at the bride’s request.  The minimum required permission may be done by either voicing her approval or through a passive expression such remaining silent when asked about a potential husband and simply nodding her head, or making any other motion to indicate that she does not object to the marriage. The Prophet (s.a.w) said:

“A deflowered unmarried woman (i.e. widow or divorcee) may not be married without her instructions; and a virgin may not be married without her permission, and her silence indicates her consent.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

The Woman’s Wali

The next requirement of for a valid contract is the approval of the woman’s guardian known as the wali. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“A marriage (contract) is not valid without a wali.” (Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and others)

Normally, a woman’s wali is her father.  If, for any reason, her father is unable to be her wali, her wali would then be her next closest blood relation: the grandfather, uncle, brother, son and so on. It is not permissible for a woman to take another woman as her wali. The Prophet (s.a.w) said:

“A woman may not give another woman in marriage, nor may a woman give herself (independently) in marriage.” (Ibn Majah, Al-Bayhaqi and others)

If the bride does not have a Muslim blood-relative as a wali, the Islamic authority, represented by the ruler or judge, would appoint a wali for her.  In non-Muslim communities the local imam is the one to be appointed as the wali of a woman who has no wali.  The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“A marriage (contract) is not valid without a wali.  And the authority is the wali of the one who does not have a wali.” (Ahmad & Abu Dawud)

The presence of the wali or a representative he has appointed is an integral element of the contract or else the contract is deemed invalid.  The Prophet (s.a.w) said:

“Whichever woman marries without her wali’s permission, her marriage is void, her marriage is void, her marriage is void. If he (i.e. the husband) performs intercourse with her, the mahr (dowry) becomes her right because he had access to her private parts. And if they dispute, the ruler would then be the wali of the one who does not have a wali.” (Ahmad & Abu Dawud)

The witnesses

Another condition for the validity of a marriage contract is the presence of at least two trustworthy Muslim male witnesses. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“A marriage is not valid without a wali and two trustworthy witnesses.” (Ahmad, Ibn Hibbaan, and others)

The Mahr (Dowry)

The next element of the marriage contract is a mandatory marriage gift given by the husband to his wife.  In Arabic, this gift is called mahr or sadaaq.  Allah Most High said:

“And give the women their dowry as a free gift.” (4:4)

He also made a commandment regarding by saying:

“And give them their compensation as an obligation.” (4:24)

The mahr is the sole right of the wife and no one may take any of it without her permission – not even her parents.  The dowry can be in the form of money, jewelry, clothing, or other material things.  It can also be a non-material gift.  The Islamic sharia has not specified any amount, but it should be in accordance with the husband’s financial ability and with what is reasonable for the bride in her social status.  It is normally determined by agreement between the husband and the bride or her wali.

A woman came to the Prophet (s.a.w) and offered herself to him.  He declined, so a man who was present with him said: “O Messenger of Allah! Marry her to me.”  The Prophet asked him: “Do you have anything to give her?” He said: “No!” The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “Give her at least an iron ring.” But he still could not afford it.  The Prophet (s.a.w) then asked him: “Do you memorise any portion of the Qur’an?” He replied: “I have memorised such and such chapters.”  The Prophet (s.a.w) then said: “…I marry her to you for the portion of the Qur’an that you have memorised.”

This means that he is expected to teach her some of what he has memorised, and treat her kindly based on this memorisation.  All of that would be much more beneficial to the bride than lots of material gift. Know that the best of  dowry is that which is light and easiest upon the husband.  This is actually a sign of blessing for the bride as the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“Verily, a sign of blessing for a woman is that her engagement, dowry, and giving birth, are all made easy.” (Ahmad, Al-Haakim, and others)

Umar ibn al-Khataab (r.a) once gave a sermon in which he said:

“Do not be excessive in regard to the women’s dowries.”

It is recommended to give the bride her dowry immediately after executing the marriage contract.  Yet, it is a very common practice to divide the mahr into two portions, an advanced and postponed portion.  Postponement of the mahr is, in general, an innovated inconvenience that departs from the normal practice found in the Sunnah.  It defeats the very purpose, which is to be a gift prior to having any intimacy with the bride.

Conditions

At the time of carrying out the marriage contract, the two parties may wish to set conditions whose violation would invalidate the contract.  This is acceptable as long as the conditions do not violate any Islamic principles.  Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said:

“Every condition not according to the book of Allah is void, even if it be a hundred conditions.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

An example of a condition may be that a woman stipulates that she remain in a particular homeland during their marriage. The conditions are normally set by the wife’s side, because the husband can terminate the marriage by uttering the divorce.

Carrying out the Contract

It is recommended for the person conducting the marriage ceremony to start with Khutbat-ul Haajah that was reported by Ibn Masoud and Jabir in at-Tabaraani and Bukhari in At-Taareekh.  The main and actual pillars of the contract are the offering and acceptance known as Ijaab and qabool.  They signify the mutual agreement and acceptance between the two parties to join in this marriage bond.  The Ijaab and qabool must be stated in clear, well defined words, in one and the same sitting, and in the presence of the witnesses. The person conducting the ceremony may help the two parties say offering and accepting words.  Documenting the marriage contract is not a requirement for the contract’s validty.  However, it is important to document it for future reference and to preserve the rights of the husband and wife. Once the marriage contract is executed, all rights and responsibilities for the two parties become immediately due.

We ask Allah to bless us with beneficial knowledge and cure us from the ailment of ignorance and blind following, and Allah knows best!

Written by Bilal Dannoun

 

Verily, all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the compassionate, the Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgement. And peace and blessings of Allah be upon the one sent as a mercy for all the worlds, our beloved Prophet and Messenger Muhammad, and upon his family, his companions and upon all those who follow in his footsteps till the Last Day.  To proceed, if a person wishes to worship Allah truly and properly, he must submit to Allah’s commands regardless of whether those commands are related to prayers, fasting, business transactions, marriage or divorce.  When a person is not equipped with authentic Islamic knowledge or does not translate their knowledge and understanding into action, choosing their own desires and wishes over and above what Allah has prescribed for them in the Qur’an and through the noble guidance of His Prophet (s.a.w), this inevitably leads to problems in many of the affairs of a person, especially in the case of marital relationships.  Marital discord is not only exhibited by husbands, but in many cases it is exhibited by wives, especially those who have been influenced by the feminist movement or materialistic West and who fail to turn completely to the Qur’an and Sunnah to see how they should lead their lives.  The existence of such attitudes has led to a great deal of marital discord among many couples.  It is unfortunate that many times, such couples do not realise that the steps that they must take to bring an end to such discord without hatred and desire for revenge, or for their marriage to return to its proper state have been stipulated in the Qur’an and Sunnah over 1400 years ago.

 

Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w) said: “The lawful thing which Allah hates most is divorce.”[1] This hadith goes to show that divorce is among the legal things that are Halal but it is not good.  It is Halal because sometimes the situation is so complicated that a man is compelled to divorce, when it is reasonable and there is no way out.  Divorce is not good because it is a cause of enmity and also a cause of Satan’s delight. As for the commonly quoted hadith: “Marry and do not divorce for verily divorce causes the ‘arsh (throne of Allah) to shake”, this is a fabricated and da’eef (weak) narration that deserves no consideration.  Before we delve into the key areas of divorce, it is worth pointing out that Divorce is a serious matter with no room for treating it lightly.  Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w) said: “There are three matters in which it is not permissible to joke: marriage, divorce and emancipation (of slave).”[2]

 

The linguistic definition of Talaaq is the setting free. In the view of Islam, divorce means the immediate and future annulment of the marriage contract, as confirmed in a plain declaration like: “I hereby divorce you!” or indirectly, like saying, “I hereby consider you unlawful to me!” It can also be confirmed by a judge or in the absence of judge, a Muslim leader, on basis of the wife’s request.  This is known as Khulu’.  Divorce sometimes relieves the husband or wife of difficulty, when one of the two has a corrupt nature and a deficient faith; when the two do not agree in temper and purpose; or when their hearts repel and never go well together.  Therefore, without love or agreement, the family structure collapses.  The aim of the Sharia’h (Islamic law) is to establish a healthy family unit through marriage, but if for some reasons this purpose fails, there is no need to linger on under false hopes as is the practice among the adherents of some other religions were divorce is not permitted.  Islam does not keep a couple tied in a loathsome chain to a painful and agonising position, instead it permits divorce.  It should only be resorted to when it becomes humanly impossible and due to unavoidable circumstances.

 

Causes behind Marital Discord and Divorce

Day after Day divorce rates are increasing.  This bitter reality has come about due to many factors that couples are heedless of.  Divorce rates have increased first and foremost as a result of not fulfilling the rights and duties of Allah, transgressing the boundaries set by Him.  And so Allah punishes a person or a married couple by causing destablisation within the marital relationship. Divorce rates have increased after one or both of the spouses began treating the rights and obligations of each other and their children lightly.  Divorce rates are on the increase as a result of parents getting involved with the affairs of their married children, where they shouldn’t be getting involved. Divorce is increasing due to gambling, consuming intoxicants such as alcohol and illicit drugs.  Divorce continues to rise as result of engagement in unlawful matters: mixed weddings, music and singing, not adhering to the correct Islamic apparel, purchasing houses and cars through riba  (usury and interest), in addition to insuring them through prohibited means.  Divorce continues to rise as more and more Muslims are refraining from paying zakaat, and due to their neglect and abandonment of Salaat, which the scholars of Islam said is one of the fundamental contributing factors towards divorce. Divorce is increasing as result of not lowering the gaze from looking at the opposite gender that Allah commanded not to be looked at, whether this happens on the streets, in shopping centers, watching television, on the internet, or other places.

 

Procedure of Divorce

There are two ways in which divorce takes place.  One is known as Talaaq Bid’i – an innovated divorce, and the other is known as Talaaq Sunni – that is, divorce carried out in accordance with the teachings of Muhammad (s.a.w).  As for Talaaq Sunni, this entails the man uttering divorce at a time when he has not engaged in any sexual relations with her after her last menstruation, whilst his wife is in a state of purity, that is, she is not menstruating or in a state of nifaas – post natal bleeding, and that he declares the divorce once only.  And so if one of the previously mentioned conditions is violated, the divorce process is considered as having been carried out in an innovated manner.  Talaaq Bid’i, is where a man divorces his wife while she is menstruating or is in a state of post natal bleeding, or that he divorces her after having had sexual relations with her after her last menstruation, or that he divorces her by verbalizing the divorce three times in one utterance or one same sitting.  This is the overwhelming opinion of the majority of the scholars, except that Imaam Ash-Shafi’ did not consider the utterance of divorce at one time as an act of innovation. Imaam ash-Shafi’’s opinion is refuted based on the hadith colleted by Bukhari and Muslim whereby ibn ‘Umar, the son of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khataab (r.a), divorced his wife when she was menstruating.  So ‘Umar (r.a) asked the Prophet (s.a.w) about his son’s actions in which he replied: “Command him to take her back, and keep her till she is purified, then has another period, then is purified.  If he wishes he may keep her and if she wishes he may divorce her before having sexual intercourse, for that is the ‘iddah (period of waiting) which Allah commanded for the divorce of a woman.”

 

The hadith of ibn ‘Umar tells many points and makes them clear.  Firstly, that it is prohibited to divorce during menstruation period.  Secondly, without the consent of a woman, a man can withdraw his decision within the specified waiting period (‘iddah).  Thirdly, it is an act of heresy (bid’ah) to divorce a woman in the state of purification after menses, in which sexual intercourse is carried out.  The scholars of Islam have differed on the issue of whether divorce uttered while a woman is in menses is actually counted.  The majority of the scholars say that the divorce has taken place and it is to be counted.  This is the opinion of Abu Hanifa, ash-Shafi’, Maalik,  Ahmad ibn Hanbal, An-Nawawi, and Al –Zaidiyyah.  Those who said that divorce has not taken place include the Dhaahiriyyah (the literalist school of thought), ibn Taymiyyah, his student ibn al-Qayim, and As-Sanaa’ni.  The correct opinion and Allah knows best is that of the majority of the scholars, that is, the one who divorces his wife whilst she is in a state of menses is counted as one divorce.  This is in light of what ibn ‘Umar himself has proclaimed in Saheeh Muslim and Bukhari that it was counted as one divorce against him.

Verbalising Divorce Thrice at One Time

What is the legal status of three divorces given together at a time?  There are four famous different opinions on this issue among the scholars.  The first opinion is that three divorces given together at a time befall and the woman is divorced.  This is the opinion of the four dominant schools of thought.  The second opinion is that if the woman has carried out sexual intercourse, then three will befall, and if she hasn’t, then only one will happen.  The third opinion is that of the Mu’tazilah and Shia’ who say that three divorces at a time are nothing and have no legal status at all. The fourth opinion is that this is only to be counted as one divorce.  Among these different views the fourth opinion, and Allah knows best is the strongest and most logical.  The opinion that three divorces uttered at once is to be only counted as one is the opinion of: Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, ‘Umar ibn AL-Khataab during the first two years of his Khilaafah, ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf, one of the ten companions given the glad tidings of Jannah, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas ‘ud, ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, ibn ‘Abbaas, ibn Taymiyyah and his student ibn al-Qayim, ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Ash-Shawkaani, ibn Baaz, ibn ‘Uthaymeen, the great scholar of hadith Shaikh Al-Albaani, and many others, may Allah shower each and everyone of them with his mercy.   The conclusive opinion of these great companions and scholars is in light of authentic texts, which shed light on this controversial issue.  The following hadith reported by Muslim is one of the main sources of evidence, whereby ibn ‘Abbaas (r.a) narrated: “In the time of Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w), Abu Bakr, and the first two years of the caliphate of ‘Umar, the three pronouncements of divorce were regarded as one divorce.  So ‘Umar said: ‘People have made haste in an affair they used to practice with patience, so supposing we execute it on them’, so he executed it on them.”

 

Uttering Divorce during Anger

Anger is of three types:  The first type is when anger is so intense that a person becomes no longer aware of what he is doing or saying.  In this case the divorce does not count according to the majority of the scholars, because he is like one who is insane and mad, one who has lost all power of reason.  The second type of anger is when a man is when his anger is intense but he understands what he is saying and doing, however the anger is so intense and he cannot control himself because the argument trading of insults or fighting has gone on too long, so his anger intensifies because of that.  In this case there difference of opinion among the scholars.  The most correct view, and Allah knows best, is that divorce does not count because the Prophet (s.a.w) said: “There is no divorce and no freeing of slaves when it is done by force or in a state of intense anger.”[3] The third type of anger is mild anger.  This is what happens when the husband is upset with his wife, or he is disappointed about something that his wife has done.  This mild anger it is not so intense that it makes him lose his power of reasoning or self-control, hence the divorce is valid according to the majority of the scholars.  This is the correct answer regarding divorce uttered in anger, as was stated by ibn Taymiyyah and ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on them.

Iddaah:  Period of waiting

‘Iddah is a period in which a woman waits after the death of her husband or divorce, and she is not allowed to marry during this period. The Muslim jurists have unanimously agreed on it as being waajib (obligatory) due to the explicitness of the Qur’anic injunction whereby Allah says: “The divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly periods.”[4] There are three types of ‘Iddah:  The first type of ‘Iddah is that of birth.  That is, a woman must wait until she delivers her child before she can remarry.  A common erroneous idea among people is that a pregnant woman cannot be divorced. This is not the case at all.  Rather there is a consensus on this point among the scholars, and that this is a Sunnah divorce and not a heresy (bid’ah). There is no dispute regarding its validity. The second type of ‘Iddah is the ‘Iddah of menses.  This means a woman is not allowed to marry until she has three menstruation.  As soon as the third period ends, ‘Iddah ends.  This is the view of many of the elite companions such as ‘Umar, ‘Ali and ibn Masu’d, and it was narrated by ibn al-Qayyim. This is also the view by the majority of contemporary scholars such as ibn Baaz and ‘Uthaymeen. The third type of waiting period is the ‘Iddah of months.  This applies to women who have passed the age of menstruation.  The ‘Iddah in this case is three months.  As for a woman who is divorced by her husband before he has consummated his marriage with her, then there is no waiting period that applies to her based on verse number 49 from Surat Al-Ahzaab (33).

The woman whose husband has divorced her once or twice is instructed to spend her ‘Iddah duration within her husband’s house. Any woman who leaves her home without the permission of her husband after he has uttered either the first or second divorce is in violation of the injunctions of Allah and His Messenger.  A woman whose divorce is revocable (i.e. first or second divorce) may still uncover in front of her husband and adorn herself by applying make-up and perfume.  She may speak to him and he may speak to her; she may sit with him and do anything with him apart from intercourse.  The only instance in which he may have sexual relations with her is if he takes her back.   If the husband kisses and embraces his wife with the intention of taking her back, then that taking back is valid. To be on the safe side however, he should not fondle with his wife until after he has clearly stated that he is taking her back.

In the case were a husband is not sure as to whether he uttered the word of divorce at all, or as to the number of divorces he has uttered, then he should act on the basis of what is certain.  So if he is not sure whether he has divorced her or not, the basic principle is that divorce has not taken place, because in this instance marriage is something which is certain, and divorce is something concerning which there is uncertainty.  Based on the juristic principle that certainty cannot be overridden by doubt, if the husband is uncertain as to whether he has divorced his wife once or twice, he should assume that he has divorced her once, because this is what is certain.

Khulu: Divorce initiated on the part of the wife

The linguistic definition of khulu’ means to take off the clothes or to take out.  According to Shari’a terminologly, khulu’ refers to a woman’s right of cancellation of her marriage.  Just as a man can divorce if he has a genuine objection, similarly, a woman may also have a khulu’ if she has a genuine excuse, and after returning the dowry (mahr or sadaaq). Some of the valid reasons for a woman to ask for a Khulu’ include disliking her husband’s treatment, such as being hot tempered, over-strict, one who criticizes her and rebukes her for the slightest mistake or shortcoming.  Another valid reason is that she may dislike her husband’s physical appearance due to some deformity or ugliness, or that one of his faculties is missing.  Other reasons a woman may instigate divorce is if her husband is lacking in religious commitment.  For example, he doesn’t pray, or does not fast in Ramadan without a proper excuse, or he goes to parties, whereby the barriers of Allah are transgressed, such as fornication, drinking alcohol, listening to singing and musical instruments.  Another basis a woman may ask for a divorce is if the husband deprives her of her rights of spending on her maintenance, clothing, and other essential needs, when he is able to provide these things.  A woman may also ask for a divorce if her husband does not give a woman her conjugal rights and thus keep her chaste due to being impotent, or because he is unfair in the division of his time among co-wives.  It is crucial to point out that there must be a valid reason behind asking for a khulu’. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “If any woman asks for divorce from her husband without any specific reason, will not smell the fragrance of paradise.”

The ‘Iddah of a woman divorced by khulu’ is not the same as that of a woman who did not instigate the divorce.  If the woman divorced by khulu’ is pregnant then her ‘Iddah lasts until she gives birth, according to scholarly consenses.[5] But if she is not pregnant, the scholars differed concerning her ‘Iddah.  Most of the scholars said that she should wait for three menstrual cycles, because of the general meaning of the verse: “And divorced women shall wait (as regards their marriage) for three menstrual periods.”  The correct view and Allah knows best is that it is sufficient for a woman divorced by khulu’ to wait for one menstrual cycle only.  This is deduced from the hadith whereby the Prophet (s.a.w) told the wife of Thaabit ibn Qays, when she divorced him by Khulu’, to wait out the ‘Iddah for one menstrual cycle.[6]  This hadith refers specifically to Khulu’ divorce, whereas the verse quoted above speaks of divorce in general. As for the permissibility of taking back a divorced wife by Khulu’ during the ‘iddah, ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him said: “There is unanimous agreement that the man who has divorced his wife by Khulu’ may take her back during the ‘Iddah.”[7]

Ar-Raj’a – Taking back a wife after a divorce

If a man divorces his wife and this is the first or second talaaq, referred to as talaaq raj’I, and she has not ended her ‘Iddah, then he can take his wife back by saying: “I am taking you back” or “I am keeping you.”  Apart from verbalizing that he is taking her back, the husband may do some action intending thereby to take her back, such as having intercourse with the intention of taking her back. The Sunnah is that taking back the wife should be done in the presence of two just Muslims based on verse number 2 from Surat at-Talaaq (65).  If the ‘Iddah has ended following a first or second divorce, there has to be a new marriage contract.  In this case he has to propose marriage like any other man, to her guardian and to her.  When she and her guardian agree and they agree upon a mahr (dowry), then the marriage contract is completed.  That must be done in the presence of two just witnesses. If however, he divorces his wife for a third time, she becomes unlawful to her first husband until she marries a second husband in a genuine marriage which is consummated.  Allah the Exalted says (interpretation of the meaning): “The divorce is twice, after that, either you retain her on reasonable terms or release her with kindness…”[8] and He also said: “And if he has divorced her (the third time), then she is not lawful unto him thereafter ntil she has married another husband.”[9]

The last divorce known amongst Muslim Jurists as Talaaq Baa-in, refers to the third divorce according to the overwhelming majority of the scholars.  This is in light of the hadith collected by Bukhari and Muslim whereby a woman came to the Messenger of Allah and said: “O Messenger of Allah, Rifaa’ah divorced me thrice, then I was married to ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn al-Zubayr al-Qurazi, but he has nothing with him except something like this fringe.”  The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “Perhaps you want to go back to Rifaa’ah? No, (it is not possible), unless and until you enjoy sexual relations with him (i.e. ‘Abd al-Rahman), and he enjoys the sexual relation with you.” An-Nawawi said: “This hadith indicates that the woman who has been divorced by a third talaaq is not permissible to the man who has divorced her until she has been married by another husband, who has intercourse with her then separates from her, and she completes her ‘Iddah.  Merely drawing up the marriage contract with her does not make her permissible to the first husband.  This is the view of all the scholars among the companions, the taabiee’n (their direct successors), and those who came after them. Allah the Exalted and the All-Mighty knows best.  And May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His beloved slave and final Messenger – Prophet Muhammad.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Reported by Abu Dawud and ibn Majah.  Al-Haakim graded it as Sahih (authentic). [2] Sunan at-Tirmidhi. Sheikh al-Albaani declared its chain of narration as hasan (good). [3] Reported by ibn Majah.  Sheikh al-Albani declared it as Saheeh (authentic) in Irwaa’ al-Ghalil. [4] Al-Baqarah, 2: 228 [5] Al-Mughni, 11/227 [6] Reported by at-Tirmidhi.  Sheikh al-Albaani declared it as Saheeh (authentic) in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi. [7] Tafsir ibn Kathir, 1/277 [8] Al-Baqarah, 2: 229 [9] Al-Baqarah, 2: 230