58) Does not the Qur’an see the wife as a mere instrument that can be disposed off by uttering Talaq thrice?
No. It is from the misunderstanding about Talaq that this doubt find its origin. Technically, Talaq refers to that act of the man whereby he uses his authority to dissolve the marriage tie. It is the Qur’an’s position that all efforts must be made to avoid situations that will lead to Talaq. It commands that even in the case where the man dislikes his mate, he is to strive to share his life with her to the extent that it is possible to do so. “O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may take away part of the dower ye have given them, – except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it maybe that ye dislike a thing, and God brings about through it a great deal of good.”(4:19). In the Qur’an’s view everything must be done to maintain the unity of the spouses. However, there is no harm in their separating from each other in situations wherein all love and unity dissipates and the very purpose of marital itself is not served. When it is the man who initiates procedures for this separation the process is referred to as Talaq.
Islam has prohibited the divorcing of women during periods of their menstrual cycle. It has been proven that the mental and physical faculties of the woman undergo perceptible changes during this period. She will, during such periods, be short tempered and prone to lapses of memory. It is thus quite possible that there will ensue quarrels between the spouses during periods of the menstrual cycle. This quarrel cannot be allowed to lead to divorce. Furthermore, sexual activity between the spouses, which serve the function of generating mutual interest and goodwill between the two, is rendered prohibitive during this period.
It is in the bedroom that, after all, most quarrels are resolved. Sex that follows after the end of the menstrual cycle usually proves sufficient to set aside quarrels that arise during that period. Thus, the Prophet taught that it is not permissible to divorce one’s wife during her periods and that it is obligatory for those who have done so to take her back.
The man who divorces his wife after her menstrual period must, however, not turn her out of his house. She must not on her own leave her husband’s house either. She is to remain in the house for a period that covers three menstrual cycles. This period is three months for those women who are past their menstrual courses and for the pregnant it covers the period upto childbirth. This period is technically termed as Idha period. It is the legislation of the Qur’an that the divorced woman is to live this period in the house of her husband itself.
“Divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly periods. Nor is it lawful for them to hide what God hath created in their wombs, if they have faith in God and the last day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. The women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And God is exalted in Power,
“O Prophet! When ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately) their prescribed periods: And fear God, your Lord: And turn them not out of their houses, nor shall they (themselves) leave, except in case they are guilty of some open lewdness, those are limits set by God: and any who transgresses the limits of God does verily wrong his (own) soul: Thou knowest not if perchance God will bring about thereafter some new situation.Thus when they fulfil their term appointed, either take them back on equitable terms or part with them on equitable terms; and take for witness two persons from among you, endued with justice, and establish the evidence (as) before God. Such is the admonition given to him who believes in God and the last day. And for those who fear God, he (ever) prepares a way out.”(65:1,2)
The man and the woman do not really live as husband and wife during the Idha period. But nor are they strangers either. After all, it is in the house of the man that she continues to live. It will be of use in helping the partners to change their minds if the woman remains in the house of her husband even after divorce. Two people who, till yesterday, had slept together, today stays apart from each other. Furthermore, he continues to live watching her. This would, indeed, serve to generate in him old desires and perhaps even to bring down his temper as well. The man has the right to take her back during the period of
the Idha. This is quite unconditionally possible for him. How scientific, indeed, is the path adopted by the Qur’an in saving the institution of the family from disruption; and all this even while not taking recourse to the implementation of a more drastic measure. Consider the case where divorce has been solemnized. Further, the woman completes the period of the three menstrual cycles in the house of her husband. There is, however, no way of getting them to be together once again. There can then be no option here but that of separation. It is, however, the Qur’an’s instruction that even this divorce has to be carried out in the most amicable way. “But if ye decide to take one wife in place of another, even if ye had given the latter a whole treasure for dower, take not the least bit of it back: Would ye take it by slander and a manifest wrong?” (4:20). But if the divorce takes place even before one comes into physical contact with one’s wife, she needs to be given only half the dowry
that was agreed upon. (2:237). The Qur’an further instructs that the woman should be given a fair compensation at the time of the divorce. “For divorced women maintenance (should be provided) on a reasonable (scale). This is a
duty on the righteous.” (2:241).
If a man divorces a woman and after a while he regrets his action. Further, the divorced woman has not been remarried yet. He is filled now with the longing to have her back as his wife. Here the Qur’an permits him to remarry her. Supposing now that he divorces the woman yet again after having remarried her. He then has the right to have her back just one more time. If he were to divorce her again for a third time he cannot take her back again. This is the three Talaq system that has been mentioned by the Qur’an.
Let the Qur’an itselfspeak:
“A divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness. It is not lawful for you, (men), to take back any of your gifts (from your wives ), except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by God. If ye (judges) do indeed fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by God, there is no blame on either of them if she give something for her freedom. These are the limits ordained by God; so do not transgress them. If any do transgress the limits ordained by God, such persons wrong (themselves as well as others). So if a husband divorces his wife (irrevocably),
he cannot, after that remarry her until after she has married another husband and he has divorced her. In that case there is no blame on either of them if they re-unite, provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by God. Such are the limits ordained by God, which he makes plain to those who understand.”(2:229,230).
This is the three-Talaq system that finds mention in the Qur’an. All three are divorces that take place at three separate instances. There is no difference of opinion amongst the vast majority of the leading Muslim jurists over the ruling that it is prohibited to pronounce three talaqs in one go. Umar (R) ordered the whipping of a man who had uttered all three talaqs at the same time and instructed that he be beaten for doing so. The great aversion, in Islam, to this form of pronouncement may be understood from this one incident. In reality, the three-talaq system of divorce is most-suited to the nature of woman. A man who lives with his wife in accordance with the dictates of the Qur’an and has, in his heart, even the least iota of love, will not be able to pronounce talaq the third time. He would definitely strive to seek out, and employ, ways and means to continue living with his wife before he even attempts to pronounce talaq a third time. Indeed, he would be ever conscious of the pain of separation that he had undergone on two earlier occasions. He would, therefore, divorce her a third time only under the influence of the most intense conviction that they can never again get along together with their lives.