Brief notes on Equality under Islamic Divorce Law

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As regards divorce, my listeners may be surprised to hear it from me, but please do understand that in Islamic law men and women have absolutely the same right in respect of dissolution of marriage.

Islamic law, which as a matter of policy, does not want a married couple to wash their dirty linen in a court of law, makes available to either spouse the facility of extra-judicial divorce subject, mutatis mutandis, to the same conditions.

The wife’s right to khul ‘is legally analogous to man’s right of talaq: In either case reasons for the desire to separate need not be spelt out and the response of the other spouse is immaterial.

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In talaq, the man must pay the mahr if not yet paid and cannot demand its return if already paid.

In khul, the wife is to forego it in favour of the husband. If a husband refuses to recognise the wife’s action in effecting a khul’ she can seek a court order for that purpose; just as a man can do so to give proper effect to talaq.

There is no inequality or inequity in this beautifully balanced law. On the con¬≠trary, the law definitely tilts in favour of women so much so that a woman who wants a divorce without losing her mahr may petition to the court for faskh on any of the wide variety of grounds speci¬≠fied by law-now codified in India under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939.”

So far as post-divorce rights of women are concerned, why can’t people understand that Islam does not regard any woman as a divorcee at all after the expiry of the period of ‘iddat?

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No sooner than her ‘iddat is over she is legally treated as a virgin with all the rights and privileges of virgins restored to her in the home of parents or other guardians-with no inhibition whatsoever for any man against marrying her.

Is this a pro-women law, I ask, or the one that insists on stigmatizing her as a divorcee for the rest of her life and on subjecting her to the shame of swallowing the morsel snatched away for her from husband’s mouth much against his wish?

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