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Marriage & Divorce in Islamic laws


Islam like other heavenly religions, has arranged the relationship between man and woman. So marriage has been legislated, and in order to protect the individual rights and to keep the family and society healthy, rules have been set for it.  

In this article, we will talk about the rights, responsibilities and uties, and how a marriage or a divorce can be conducted in Islam. 


If a man and a woman want to marry, and they both are Muslim, sane, and have reached puberty what should they do? 

Firstly it is compulsory on the woman that was not married before to take permission from her father or paternal grandfather. So without the father or grandfather, if they are alive, the contract is not valid. 

Does this happen even if she is not dependent on her family and runs her own affairs? 

Some of the jurists advise precaution in this matter and say even if she is independent and she is the one that manages her affairs it is compulsory on her to take permission for that. Check this specific issue with the jurist you follow. 

But a woman who is a divorcee or widow that has had physical intimacy with her husband, is allowed to be married without seeking the permission of her father. But from the side of the man it is good to seek the consent of his father for marriage out of kindness towards parents. 

The second point before marriage there should be an agreement of rights and responsibilities in the marital life. Islam has provided rules for marital relations clarifying the obligations for a couple. Many Muslims accept these rules the way they are, but both have freedom to rearrange some of the rights and duties and add some new points.

Let’s review together some of the most important points:  

The husband’s duties 

Give the Mahr to the wife as per her request. 

The husband is obliged to provide his wife with food, clothing and housing in conformity with her social status and dignity 

There should be a natural physical intimacy between them at least once every four months. For more details on this issue, refer to the books of Islamic law. 

The wife’s duties 

That she allows the husband to have physical intimacy. And she does not leave the house without his permission.  

As we mentioned the couple have the right to agree on conditions that suit them in their marriage contract.  

So it is possible for example for a woman to add a point and to take the right of divorce for herself.  Or to be paid for the housework. 

Similarly a man can stipulate that she will be responsible for raising the children or fulfilling the household chores like cooking, etc.  

What’s important that these conditions should not oppose the law and they should be discussed before conducting the marriage.  

If they don’t discuss any changes, then the default Islamic law will be in act.


What is Mahr? 

It’s one of the fixed rights of a woman. It is something valuable like money or property that the husband gives to the wife for the marriage. 

It is recommended to follow the tradition of the Prophet in Mahr which is five hundred dirhams of silver.
Without specifying the Mahr, the permanent marriage is still valid but the Mahr right stays for the wife. For more information refer to your Islamic Laws book. 

How do you conduct a marriage?  

It’s very simple and does not need a witness or a third person. What is compulsory in a marriage contract is the proposal i.e. the woman offers marriage and then the man accepts.  This proposal and acceptance should to be recited in Arabic if possible.  They are also allowed to appoint a scholar or someone to recite and conduct it on their behalf.  

As an example let’s conduct a marriage. The woman says to the man “Zawwajtuka Nafsī alā Mahril Ma’lūm Wa shurūt al-ma’lūm”. Which means “I offer myself in marriage to you for the specific Mahr on the specific conditions”. And the man says “Qabiltu”, which means I accepted.And according to some jurists the other way is also allowed. This means the man will say “Atazawwajuki alā mahril ma’lum”. I marry for the specified Mahr,  and the woman says “Qabiltu”. 

Good, what we have mentioned was permanent marriage but there is another kind of marriage known as temporary marriage, what is it? 

Temporary marriage is limited to a fixed time and it ends automatically after the expiration of the time agreed upon in the marriage. 

The temporary marriage has similar conditions as the permanent one, like that the woman should seek the permission from her father or grandfather, etc. 

But they are different in some issues. Let’s review them together:

In the temporary marriage;  

  1. It is compulsory to specify the duration. if the time is not specified the contract is void. Some jurists say if the duration is not specified, the marriage remains valid but it will become permanent! 
  2. It is compulsory to specify the Mahr and if it is not specific the marriage is invalid.
  3. The man doesn’t have to cover the wife’s living costs. But the wife can stipulate this right in the marriage contract. 
  4. There is no inheritance between the couple if one of them dies. 
  5. According to some jurists a Muslim man who has a permanent wife is not allowed to get married temporarily with a woman of Ahlul-Kitab or the people of the Book.  

How does a marriage END?  

Permanent marriage ends with divorce which according to traditions is the most hated halal act to Allah. According to the Islamic laws, it is the man who has the right to initiate the divorce. It is possible for the wife to have this right by proxy, only if it was agreed upon in the marriage contract.

Divorce takes place by uttering the formula of divorce in Arabic, if it is possible. The man says “Zawjatī Tāliq”, my wife is divorced. Or addressing the wife he says: “Anti Tāliq”, you are divorced. He must intend the divorce by his words. And two just witnesses must be present. Also, the divorce has to take place during a pure state after menses or giving birth, when there hasn’t been any sexual relations between them in that period of time.

But the temporary marriage ends in two ways: 

The first is by the end of the specified duration which they agreed on conducting the marriage.  

The second is that the husband foregoes the remaining duration.  

Know that there is no divorce in temporary marriage.  

An important note; in temporary marriage the couple remains married while the specified period remains, and mere separation and disconnecting will not expire it. The temporary marriage ends only when the husband foregoes the remaining time or when the duration agreed upon ends. 

Question: Is it permissible for a woman who is a widow, divorcee or has finished her temporary marriage, to be married to someone else?

It is definitely allowed but before that, she should wait and complete the period of Iddah. This waiting period is compulsory after the death of the husband or after divorce or after the temporary marriage ends. 

In general, the Iddah or the waiting period is described like this: 

  • For a divorcee it is a period of three monthly cycles. In some instances the Iddah can be three months.
  • The Iddah for a pregnant woman ends when she gives birth, or God forbids when she has a miscarriage 
  • The Iddah for a widow is four months and ten days. But if she was pregnant it is compulsory on her to perform the waiting period of the widow and that of pregnancy. 
  • And the Iddah after a temporary marriage is two menstrual cycles if her cycle is normal and generally 45 days is for special instances. 

There are certain situations when the Iddah is not needed. For example, a woman who has reached menopause or a woman who was never physically intimate with her husband can get married immediately after their divorce or after the end of their temporary marriage. 

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