Friday, May 22, 2015
THE MEANING OF DIVORCE PROVISION
In Islam jurisprudence, the material arangements which a man makes for his divorced spouse are termed "divorce provision." There is a consensus among Muslim scholars that this provision in no way means life-long maintenance, there being absolutely no basis for this in the divine scriptures. The concept of maintenance for life is, in fact, a product of modern civilization. It was never at any time enshrined in devine laws, either in Islam, Judaism or Christianity. In material terms 'provision' simply takes the form of a gift handed over by the man on parting, so that the woman's immediate needs may be catered for, and in all cases, this is quite commensurate with his means. But the Qur'an makes it explicit that the parting must above all be humane and that justice must be done: "Provide for them with fairness; the rich man according to his means, and the poor according to his. This is binding on rightious men. Do not forget to show kindness to each other....reasonable provision should also be made for divorced women. That is incumbent on rightious men." When divorce takes place before the settling of the dowry and the consummation of the marriage, even then the man must give the woman money or goods as a gesture of goodwill. In this instance the question of his repaying dowry money does not arise. The Qur'an is also quite explicit on this- "Believers, if you marry believing women and divorce them before the marriage is consummated, you have no right to require them to observe a waiting period. Provide well for them and release them honorably." This "waiting period" (iddah) actually applies to a woman who has been married for some time and who may, subsequent to the divorve, discover that she is pregnant. This statutory waiting period of three months makes her position clear and then the man is required to pay her additional compensation if she is expecting his child. But again there is no question of maintenance for life, for the Qur'an seeks natural solution to all human problems. It would, therefore, be wholly against the spirit of the Qur'an for a woman to be entitled to life maintenance from the very man with whom she could not coexist. Such a ruling would surely have created a negative mentality in society. The Qur'an again has the answer: "If they seperate, God will compensate each of them out of His own abundance: He is Manificent, Wise." The manificence of God refers to the vast provision which God has made for his servants in this world. In various ways God helps such distressed people. For example, when a woman is divorced, it is but natural that the sympathy of all her blood relations should be aroused. And, as a result, without any pressure being put on them, they are willing to help and look after her. Besides, a new will-power is awakened in such a woman and she sets about exploiting her hidden potentialities, thus solving her problems independently. Furthermore, previous experiences having left her wiser and more careful, she feels better equipped to enter into another marital relationship with more success.