Divorce: The prohibition of the oath of desertion

Q170 :The prohibition of the oath of desertion

A170 : One of the aspects of Islam's concern for the rights of women is that it prohibits a man to be so angry with his wife as to discontinue sexual relations with her for a period which she cannot bear. If this abandonment of sexual relations is accompanied by an oath on his part, he is given a limit of four months in which to calm down and revert to her. If he comes to his norms and resumes sexual relations before the expiration of the four months, it is possible that Allah may forgive him for his excesses and open the door of repentance to him; however, he must still do the penance prescribed for a broken oath. If, on the other hand, this period expires and he has not returned to her, his wife is divorced from him as a just punishment for his neglect of her rights. Some jurists hold that the divorce is automatic at the expiry of four months and no judgement from a court is needed. Others, however, require that at the end of the period the matter should be referred to the judicial authority, who will then give them the option of reconciliation or divorce. [Added: That is variable in keeping the laws of various countries, but religiouly they are automatically divorced.] Such an oath of abstention from the wife is technically known in the Shari'ah as eela. Concerning it Allah Ta'ala says: For those who take an oath of abstention from their wives, a waiting period of four months (is ordained); if they return, indeed, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. But if their intention is firm for divorce, then, indeed, (Allah) is Hearing, Knowing.(2:226-227) This period of four months has been specified to give the husband ample time to calm himself and to restore the relationship of his volition. Moreover, four months is normally regarded as the maximum period a woman can endure separation from her husband. Commentators on the Qur'an narrate the following incident in support of this opinion: Caliph Umar found that a woman's husband had been gone on a military expedition for a long time. He then asked his daughter Hafsah, the widow of the Prophet, "How long can a woman endure separation from her husband?" She replied, "Four months." Subsequently, the caliph of the Believers decided that he would not send a married man away from his wife for a period exceeding four months.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )