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I Divorce Thee!


“It is Allah who has created seven heavens and of the earth, the like of them. [His] command descends among them so you may know that Allah is over all things competent and that Allah has encompassed all things in knowledge.”

‘I Divorce Thee’ are the most feared words in the minds of Muslim women all over the world. For Muslims, marriage or nikah is more of a civil contract than a sacred and eternal bond. When we Muslims marry, the civil contract has three essentials- the offer, the proposal and the acceptance. During the nikah, the bride gets some amount of money as dower or mehr. This mere fact says a lot. It can be interpreted in two ways. First, that the woman is worth a lot of money because of her good character and social status. Second, that the woman is being purchased for her goods. When this concept of dower started, it was for the good of the women. This is the amount that they used to get in case of a divorce. But, with time, this amount started getting treated as ‘bride price’. The condition of the Muslim women is bad and painful. When a bride ties the matrimonial knot, she does so with the belief that the marital relationship is going to last a lifetime. So, what happens next? I know that every relationship has its own ups and downs but when I studied the Muslim Law, I realized that the position women have is tragic!

The husband has been endowed with all the powers. He can do as he wishes. He can treat his wife any way he likes. The husband can marry as many as four women! How would it feel to share your husband with 3 other females? The worst part is that you can’t do anything about it. If you displease the husband, you’ve had it! The process of talaq or divorce is so easy and baseless! Well, with no disrespect to anyone, I know that every religion has its own personal religious laws. I am sure there must be some ‘blessed’ reason as to why women are subjected to such a downtrodden position. If you carefully study the law, you find that there are some really sad, upsetting and surprising ways a man can divorce his wife. Whereas for the wife, if she wants to initiate a divorce, the proper term is ‘khul’. By this way, with the consent of the husband, she can buy the divorce with her dower and be free of all ties. When we look at the husband’s position, he can declare a divorce whenever he wants, even without a reason!

Some of the most shocking circumstances for declaring a divorce under Muslim law have been discussed under:

1) Intoxication

If the husband, in a drunken state, says ‘I Divorce Thee’, or any words equivalent to that, it means the divorce has been granted. It does not even matter if the wife is in the same room as his! The wife’s presence is not even required. So, even if he does not actually want a divorce but he says the three forbidden words in a drunken state, it is considered valid.

2) Email

Going by the most recent laws, a divorce between two Muslims is valid even if it is communicated via an email. This shows how low the position of the women in Muslim society is! In the same way, a divorce can be successfully communicated even over the phone.

3) Joke

We all have witnessed a moment where the boyfriend says ‘I want to leave you and die!’, angrily- or where the husband says ‘I don’t want to see you’ just like that, trying to focus on the cricket match. Do we take it seriously? No, right? We do not. It is because we know that not every word has the same amount of gravity attached to it. I was shocked at knowig that even if a husband says to his wife jokingly ‘I divorce thee’, it is a valid divorce!

These are the three reasons that caught my eye the most! I am sure there are some other similar reasons as well. Women deserve respect. They leave their house, their family and loved ones, all for a new life with her husband– a life filled with love and affection. How could anyone break those dreams without a reason? On whims and fancies? That is inhumane. There is a reason why the divorce provisions under other personal laws have been made stricter. They have proper grounds of divorce. To maintain the sanctity of marriage, it has to be treated with respect and care. It is not a dissoluble knot. It is entered into with a mind of being in it for the rest of our lives. In India, the Muslim laws are worse than they are in Muslim countries. Women should be loved and respected. If a marriage did not work out earlier, even considering a divorce was said to be the greatest sin. Nowadays, it just happens, without a reason sometimes, breaking the hearts of many women- women who deserve much better. How I wish this position could change!

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