Marriage: Hanging in the balance

Q348 :The marriage contract of a 17 year old girl was arranged a few years ago. Her husband was working abroad and a delay in the consummation of marriage took place. Later, the man and his family moved to a foreign country, without even communicating to the girl's family of their intentions. There have been many indications that the man's family have actually ignored the girl and do not seem keen that the marriage should go through. The man does not answer the letters sent by the girl or her father. Now she says she is not prepared to go ahead with the marriage, even if the man wants to. Could you please explain if there is a way out for the girl. On the other hand, can the man compel her to go and live with him after she has come to hate him and his family for their lack of care for her. If she gets divorced, does she have to observe a waiting period, considering that the marriage has not been consummated?

A348 : There is certainly a way out for the girl, if her feelings are truly as you describe. This is known in Islam as Khula' which may be resorted to by the girl, whether the marriage has been consummated or not. In the circumstances that you have related, it is perfectly understandable that this girl should desire an end of her marriage to a man who totally neglects her. What she should do is to go to an Islamic court and apply for the nullification of her marriage. The judge will listen to her case and when he realizes the seriousness of her application, he should grant it. When she has made such an application, the judge must make a ruling before he would even consider any counter application by the husband for the marriage to be consummated, or for the girl to go and live with him Needless to say, she should pay back to the man any dower or meher she has received from him and preferably any gifts he had given her. It has been observed that judges in your part of the world are reluctant to grant applications of Khula'. If this girl meets such an outcome, she should make her application to another judge, trying to identify one who is both broad-minded and well read. I should perhaps explain that the judge who orders a nullification of the marriage, does not pronounce the divorce on behalf of the man. If the woman later marries again, her marriage is considered to be a second marriage, although she may still be a virgin. Since the marriage has not been consummated, the woman need not observe any waiting period after the nullification of her marriage. From the Islamic point of view, marriage is a contractual agreement between two parties. If either party wants to withdraw from that contractual agreement, there are rules and procedures for such a withdrawal. In the case of the woman, the method of Khula' is the way out.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )