Dr. Jassim Al-Mutawa
SOME people are perhaps surprised by this question, but I have noticed during conversations with people who wish to divorce that they do not choose the right time to do so. When Islam legislated divorce, it did so in a way that made sense so that marital life does not become a living hell.
The Holy Qur’an does not contain a surah entitled Marriage. There is, however, a surah entitled Divorce in the 28th chapter. The Holy Qur’an has also not specified much in relation to marriage as it has in relation to the rulings of divorce. For example, witnesses are mentioned clearly in cases of divorce and not mentioned with the same clarity in relation to marriage. In addition to that, the words that the Holy Qur’an uses in relation to divorce are very soothing. The Holy Qur’an mentions: “So provide for them and give them a gracious release.” In this verse there are three soothing words: the words “provide”, “release” and “gracious”. In another verse, the Holy Qur’an mentions: “Either retain them according to acceptable terms or part with them according to acceptable terms.” Allah mentions holding before parting because it is closest to what pleases Him.
Note the beauty of the word “hold”. It does not mean only retention, but the use of extreme care and non-negligence. The message is that one should open a new page in the relationship and continue attempts to hold on to the marriage. The Holy Qur’an also describes divorce as a good deed, and not something that should be done in anger, or used as a threat or a means of retaliation. Nor should it involve physical violence, denying the other money, using children as leverage, defamation or lying and fraud. The marital relationship is a strong covenant, and the bond is the rope with which the family is firmly bound. The Holy Qur’an tells us to ensure that the marriage is strong, to never disassociate it and make all efforts to ensure that married life continues.
The first question I ask anyone who has a desire to divorce is: Have you made every effort to reform? If the answer is yes, then this is the correct time for divorce, and if the answer is no, then this is the wrong time. If the divorce takes place after all efforts have been made to reform, then the person will not regret or feel remorse. It should also be noted that the verses of divorce in the Holy Qur’an focus on only the couple and do not mention children because the fundamental elements within a marital relationship are husbands and wives. The family cannot continue if the relationship between the spouses is permanent open war.
Finally, the best time for divorce depends on the meaning of the word time. This can mean time of the day or hour. However, the best time for divorce is after the husband has been spiritually purified. This would be once all means of reform have been exhausted.