Divorce in Islam

talaqdivorce

A few weeks ago, as I was quietly sitting down to a meal with my family, the discussion about women’s rights and Islam came up. The spirited discussion was heavily one-sided. The claims about how wonderful Islam was and how much women gained from the Quranic laws were being thrown around liberally.  Someone even made the comment that the Quran does not have any sayings about divorce, but that the divorce decrees and rules are all made by the Imams.

I couldn’t take it anymore…

I tried to sit in silence, but sometimes the unsubstantiated claims become too much to bear. I prayed quickly (“Lord Jesus, help me!”) and then said that I agreed that Mohammad put an end to female infanticide (killing baby girls because of the patriarchal society) but apart from that… nothing more. That’s when the whole table jumped on me. There were claims being made that Islam allows for women to openly divorce me (no, not true) and that women do have a choice when it comes to marriage (again, not according to the  Quran).  Another claim was that the “I Divorce You” statement said three times was also not in the Quran (yes, it is… see Al Baqarah verse 2:229-230). When I challenged that the Quran does indeed have rules about women and divorce, I was told “well, you read the translation – in Arabic, it’s different.”

Oh yeah… let’s play the translation card.

There is an entire Surah (Chapter) on Divorce! It’s called “Al Talaq.” The very first verse says :

“O Prophet, when you [Muslims] divorce women, divorce them for [the commencement of] their waiting period and keep count of the waiting period, and fear Allah , your Lord. Do not turn them out of their [husbands’] houses, nor should they [themselves] leave [during that period] unless they are committing a clear immorality. And those are the limits [set by] Allah . And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah has certainly wronged himself. You know not; perhaps Allah will bring about after that a [different] matter. (Al Talaq, 65:1)”

So… what is “the waiting period?” What is a “clear immorality?” Notice, that you don’t let them go and neither can they go of their own choice. If they leave = clear immorality! It’s a catch 22. There are women right here in Edmond, Oklahoma who are trying to help a Muslim woman leave her husband’s home because he has encouraged their young son to join in on the physical beatings she has received since the day they were married. She has suffered through this over the last 13 years. I met her 6 years ago, when the ladies from a church offered her a safe home. She told me then that she had no choice, but to return to him, since she was his property and rightfully belonged to him. Now, 6 years later, the beatings have doubled. There is NO HOPE.

Why then are Muslims, even cultural ones like my family, so quick to come to the defense of Islam and elevate it to the high levels as ones who not only support women’s rights, but PROTECT them?

The answer is: They haven’t really read the Quran. If they have read the Quran, they’ve read it in Arabic. If they’ve read it in Arabic, know that over 84% of the Muslim world doesn’t speak Arabic as their mother tongue. In other words, they have “read” and recited the Quran in Arabic (that’s the only way you are supposed to read it if you are a Muslim, by the way, for Arabic is considered to be the language of Heaven). If you read the Quran in a translated language, it is not exact because you are not reading it in Arabic. You cannot know what it says unless you read it the way it was given – in Arabic. The Muslims who don’t speak Arabic DO NOT actually understand what the heck it is they are reciting – in the Quran and also in their prayers.

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Hadith Book 12 verse 2218 

The second piece of this mystery is the Hadith. The Hadith are traditions of the prophet that were used to explain confusing passages in the Quran. When I was a Muslim, I knew about the Hadith, but there was no access to it. The internet has brought the Hadith to everyone, but even now my family shrugs it off – they have the Quran and that’s all they need. They get traditions and Quranic verses confused all the time. Here is a good website where you can find more information on what traditions exist about Divorce and Women.

When I was a Muslim (and a pretty bad one at that), I tried to pray 5 times a day after 9/11. The prayers are all recited in Arabic. Did I mention that I was one of the 84% that didn’t speak Arabic? Yes, it’s true. I recited all my prayers in Arabic, knowing that I probably was not pronouncing the prayers correctly, so I would do extra rakats (for extra credit). This is the reality and truth for many Muslims around the world: Praying without knowing what you are saying, reading your holy book without knowing what it says and then claiming that you know what Islam is all about.

I hope this explanation helps with understanding why so many Muslims seem confused about what they believe in. I was one of those.

Here is a link to an excellent article by Pastor Mateen Elass titled

Fake News Headline #2: Muhammad Was a Champion of Women’s Rights!

Many Muslims have a heart for God. They are out there searching for answers and the truth. Islam is confusing. The writings in the Quran are confusing. They are praying for God to show them the way. Please pray that they will indeed find the WAY, the TRUTH and ultimately, the LIFE through Jesus Christ Our Lord!

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12 thoughts on “Divorce in Islam

  1. Mary Beth Hetrick

    Mona-this explains so much! Thank you! It’s just hard to believe that so many kind, peace loving Muslims adhere to the quran when, as you have told us, it is so violent and Mohammed was anything but peaceful. I continue to pray for you-for opportunities to give out God’s Truth, and that God will take the blinders from your family’s eyes! Love you for your strong stand of faith-God is faithful! PS I sent my niece Chrissy your book 3 weeks ago and have not heard a word! Please continue to pray the same for her! Love you lots! Mary Beth

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  2. Mahrukh Ali Khan

    Hi girl, I think I can help you to understand this verse. So Allah said “divorce them (for the commencement) of their waiting period”. Because when we are in anger we don’t usually take good decisions and Allah don’t want us to regret on our decisions taken in the state of anger or conflict. So He told us, that if we want to get divorced don’t instantly get divorced, instead take a time period, so that we can think about our decision in peace and don’t regret it later.
    The time period is usually 3 months but you can mutually decide it.
    Allah said,”Do not turn them out of their [husbands’] houses, nor should they [themselves] leave [during that period] unless they are committing a clear immorality.” So that the women don’t have to just get out of the house if the husband is angry. Because the anger maybe because of a really stupid thing and later the husband might regret doing this to the wife. If your husband is angry and upset with you he can’t just say “i divorce you” three times and asks you to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, because Allah protects your rights.
    Allah said that the woman herself should also not leave because again the two of you are angry and taking a serious decision like leaving the house in the state of anger is not really genius.
    But if the woman is really being immoral let her go. Because of course an enforced marriage is not considered a marriage in Islam.

    And as long as your argument about the “Muslims just reading Quran without knowing the actual meanings”. In this point, I support you. I also believe in understanding the Holy Quran, not just reading it and memorizing it without knowing the actual meanings. I even wrote an article about it. Here https://mahrukhalikhan.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/dont-read-it-study-it/
    And Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that “Any woman who asks for divorce when it’s not absolutely necessary, the fragrance of paradise will be forbidden to her”. You tell me if a woman asks for divorce when it is “absolutely unecessary” is that a very good thing?? And for destroying the man’s life by divorcing him for absolute no reason, should she deserve the heavens??
    I hope this clears your confusions.
    Peace.

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  3. As a Roman Catholic, I can sympathise somewhat with the position of Muslims in this regard. Until the 1960s the mass was said in Latin and enough Latin was taught in Catholic schools to enable Catholics to make the correct responses, but, save for priests, not enough to permit detailed independent reflection on the Bible. Catholics were not generally encouraged to read the Bible and form independent views.

    This no doubt gave people a strong sense of reverence (and there are different problems with Protestant Christians who read the Bible simplistically as though it was written as an instruction manual).

    But sympathy for someone’s situation is not approval for their inaction. Everybody should inform themselves of the teaching (historical, scriptural, ethical) of their religion: and ask themselves in a clear headed and honest way whether it is really believe.

    You may find my post on the Tolerance Paradox relevant to your views.

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    1. Thank you for your comments and for the example from your personal views. I think these examples help to create a rich dialogue and also encourage the West to take another look at what they believe and why they believe it. We should be like the Bereans and test! Acts 17:11 ~ Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

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  4. Pingback: Islam & Female Genital Mutilation? | Mona Earnest

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