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Muslim Women And Divorce

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From a legal point of view, marriage is the lawful union of a man and women based on mutual consent. The ideal purpose of marriage is a commitment that brings forth a state of tranquility through mutual love and compassion. In Islam, the purpose of marriage is also a commitment that brings tranquility. But in Islam the concept of marriage is more like a contract or "aqd" from a legal point of view. Like any other contract, the marriage contract requires full consent of the parties involved. The parents or guardians of either of the parties may give advice, choose a marriage partner or use persuasion. But the final decision to enter into a marriage must be the result of a free choice on the part of each partner. Even though this freely made choice may consist of nothing but accepting the choice of one's parents or guardian, the ultimate commitment to marriage is of those that are being married.

Even though marriage is based on mutual consent, after some time, the mutuality of the commitment might not be the same. Relationships do fall apart, and that is where divorce comes in. Divorce is extremely discouraged in Islam. However, the Islamic law provides provisions for the termination of the marriage contract if the marriage commitment fails to work. The termination of the marriage contract can be initiated by any party that has decided that the other party cannot or will not satisfactorily fulfill the commitment in the marriage contract to provide enough physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual happiness for a state of tranquility. Islam encourages both the husband and wife to appoint such persons as to help with reconciliation (known as the qazi), but if these attempts also fail, then the procedures for each are established in the Qu'ran.

The type of divorce that is initiated by the man is known as the "talaq." This type of divorce by the man's hand can either be spoken or written three times. But after the repetition of "talaq" three times, there is a waiting period of three months known as the idaat. No type of sexual relationship can take place even if both individuals are still living under the same housing. This waiting period was developed to prevent any hasty decisions that were made with anger and to determine whether or not the wife has been impregnated before that talaq took place. If the divorce proceeds onward, then the husband must pay in full whatever dowry or mahr that was promised to the wife in the marriage contract.

A Muslim woman may also initiate the divorce, however this is less common and thus less focused on in research and education context. The woman, based on Islamic law and procedures has two options for obtaining a divorce from her husband. One such way is for the Muslim woman herself, to have private negotiations with her husband "in order to secure his agreement to release her from the marriage." (Vatuk, 3) This type of divorce that is initiated by the woman is known as "kuhl." If the negotiation with her husband does not produce the desired outcome of divorce, due to him refusing, the woman has a right to consult the Muslim courts to grant the divorce with Muslim law. This is the other option of a Muslim women's divorce from

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