When Wife Is At Fault

If the wife neglects her duties and gives trouble to the husband, then, three cures have been prescribed step by step. Allah says in the Qur'an . . . And as to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them, and (then) refuse to share their beds,

and (lastly) beat them. Then, if they return to obedience seek not against them means (of annoyance); for Allah is Most High Great. (Qur'an, 4:34)

First Step: First the husband should admonish the wife and advise her to change her behaviour. In the beginning, advice and mutual discussion may bear good fruits, while tough measure may create an undesirable reaction.

Second Step: If this fails, then it means that the malady has taken a deeper root. Therefore, the husband should leave her in her bed. This silent protest may bring the wife to her senses; and the cause of conflict may be removed.

Third Step: But, if her arrogance has reached the furthest limit, and she is oblivious of admonition and that subtle protest, then the `soft' treat ment will not be of any use. In this extremity, the husband is allowed to beat her. If good-manners fail to awake her gentle feelings, the alternative is `tough' dealing.

But that `tough' dealing also must be tempered with tenderness. al-Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said: "Verily, it is a stroke with a tooth stick." The shar`ah says that the blow should not be such as to break a bone or to leave red marks or bruises, nor is he allowed to hit her on her face, nor in another place several times.

If these cures remove the cause of complaint, the husband should at once start gentle and fair dealing with her. The last sentence of the above mentioned ayah points to this aspect: "Then, if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance)."

If, on the other hand, the husband is at fault and neglects his duties towards his wife, then she, at first, should try to bring a reconcilement with him.

And if a wife fears cruelty or negligence on her husband's part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable reconcilement between themselves; and the reconcilement is best . . . ( Qur'an, 4:128)

If this method fails, then she has a right to put the matter before Hakim ash-Shar`i (the Qadi or mujtahid) who has every authority to settle the dispute according to his discretion.

If both neglect their duties towards each other, then there is a need of some helping hands to end the conflict. Therefore, Allah has ordained: And if ye fear a breach between the two, then appoint two arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers; if they wish for reconcilement and peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation , for Allah is Omniscient Allknowing. (Qur'an, 4:35)

This arbitration may be resorted to even in the first two situations when only one party is at fault.


Some discords become very complicated and defy all solutions, and family-life becomes extremely intolerable. In such cases, only two alternatives remain 1. to leave the couple in the same condition, which in the words of the Qur'an is: "The torment of the Fire;"

  1. to release them from the bond of marriage, so that each can find another suitable lifepartner. Common sense prefers the second alternative; and Islam has adopted the same.

Christianity prefers the first alternative, i. e., to compel the couple to remain as man and wife even if they intensely hate each other. It is based upon the following alleged words of Christ It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement. But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery: (Mathew, 5:31 -32).

Let human nature decide whether it is only the fornication which pollutes the matrimonial atmosphere ? Does not hot temper or flaunting each other's rights create equally intense discord?

Is not negligence in maintenance, disloyalty, desertion, or disobedience enough to turn the home into a Hell?

It is necessary here to emphasize in so many words the wisdom of divorce in many cases, as allowed by Islam. Suffice it to say that now even the followers of those religions which do not allow divorce are resorting to parliaments to establish "divorce" in their countries' legal systems, sometimes in face of fierce opposition from their churches and religions.

The Hindu religion does not recognize divorce; Hindus a few years ago made divorce a part of their legal system through the "Hindu Code Bill".

The Anglican church is opposed to divorce; Anglicans through an Act of Parliament (of which all the Bishops are members) have allowed them selves to be divorced by the courts. And here is an interesting side-light. The sovereign is the Head of the Anglican church; and as such is supposed to uphold the theory of illegality of divorce.

And the same sovereign, in his/her capacity of Head of State, signs the Acts of Parliament legalizing divorce.

Why could not King Edward VIII marry a divorcee, while at the same time hundreds of thousands of his subjects were getting divorce under his own authority? Does it mean that Christians have two sets of rules: one for great people, another for the common folk?

The Roman Catholic church also is fanatically opposed to divorce. But compelled by the hard facts of life they have found a method to dissolve the marriage, without calling it "divorce". If someone has the patience of `Job' (Ayyub) and the money of Qarun, he can obtain, after several years' pleading, a decree from the Vatican, declaring that the marriage was null and void from the very beginning.

Ingenious, is not it? The only difficulty is that it can be obtained by wealthy tycoons only. "In recent years, Pope Paul VI has streamlined the cumbersome process . . . that could drag a case out for as long as twenty years. But despite the Vatican's attempts to limit legal fees, costs at the Rota remained high, sometimes running into thousand of dollars and making annulments available mainly to the prosperous." (Time, November 13, 1972)

And if the marriage was not a marriage from the beginning, what is the status of the children of that marriage? Are they also illegitimate? Italy, under pressure from the Vatican, had resisted the popular demand of legalizing the divorce. Now, there also, an Act has been passed and has become Law.

As soon as the act became law thousands of people applied for divorce, most of whom had been separated from their spouses for twenty or even thirty years.

So much suffering can be caused to humanity by such doctrines. And not only suffering but also encouragement for frustrated people to indulge in sins. Can a couple, separated for twenty or thirty years, remain chaste? Surely, they will find partners to satisfy their natural urges - unlawfully, of course.


As separation is the result of irreconcilable discord, it may be of the same three types which were mentioned in section 34.

  1. Talaq: This is usually translated as 'divorce'. When the husband is fed up with the misbehaviour of the wife and wants to dissolve the marriage, it is called "talaq " in Islamic terminology.

O' Prophet, when ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods and count (accurately). .

. (Qur'an, 65:1)

  1. Khul`: If the wife is suffering from the ill-treatment of the husband and wants to get free from him by offering some indemnity, it is called "khul"'.

. . . If ye do indeed fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah, then there is no blame on either of them if she gives something for her freedom . . . ( Qur'an, 2;229)

And if they disagree (and must part) Allah will provide abundance for all from His Allreaching bounty . . . (Qur'an, 4:130) Thus all three ways of dissolving the marriage are allowed in Islam.

But in all these cases, marriage can be dissolved by the husband's consent only. He has the authority to perform talaq, khul` or mubarat.

Again, advocates of the "equality of sexes" will frown on this provision. Therefore, it is better to mention that in Western countries where the woman has been given the right to divorce her husband, 80% of the applications of divorce are lodged by wives. And, many is the husband who only comes to know that his wife had divorced him when she is already married to another man.

As has been mentioned earlier, the outlook of woman is dominated by emotion; and if they are given the right to dissolve the marriage, they 3. Mubarat : If both are tired of each other, and want to dissolve the marriage, it is called "Mubarat"

are more likely to think of divorce on the slightest of pretexts.

The Qur'an reproves the `People of Book' that they believe in certain parts of the Book and reject other parts. It is their tendency from the very beginning. Faced with the difficulties created by Christian doctrine, they turned towards Islam to borrow a leaf from its shari `ah, and adopted the principle of divorce. But the deep-rooted prejudice against Islam prevented them from adopting it with all its necessary details. Divorce was adopted, but details were ignored. Result?

In California, 2,000 marriages were performed in one year; and within same period 641 divorces were granted. In other words there was one divorce against every three marriages. This abundance of divorce in Christian societies may also be a reaction to the unreasonable restraint of Christian churches.


Islam allowed in principle dissolution of marriage in all three situations of discord; and thus satisfied human nature. But, at the same time, it has imposed so many conditions that divorce becomes hard to perform. For example, the husband must be adult and sane, should give divorce by his own free will and intention; it must be done in approved formular, before two men of approved probity; the wife must be free from menses etc., and the couple should not have cohabited after her last menses.

After divorce, a period of three months " `iddah " was prescribed; may be the parties feel remorse on separation and are ready to restore the marriage ties again. If so, then the divorce may be revoked and the marriage continues.

Another benefit of this rule is to make sure that the woman is not pregnant from her previous husband.

Divorce: The most disliked permission Together with these conditions, it has been emphasized that the divorce is very much disliked by Allah and His Prophet. The Holy Prophet said:

The worst of all permitted things is divorce. The Holy Prophet also said Gabriel advised me about (gentle dealings with) the women, so much so that I thought that she should not be divorced except because of open unchastity.

Here the Holy Prophet is saying the same thing which is attributed to Christ in Mathew. But see the difference in language and then compare the results of these two sayings. Injil put unnecessary burden on human nature, and as a result,

its followers flauted its ruling and indulged in unbridled lawlessness. Islam allowed divorce, but showed its displeasure with it, relying on human feelings to keep its use to the minimum. The result is that in Islamic society divorce is a rare thing; and a Muslim's domestic life is so secured that non-Muslims cannot imagine it.