Dr. Hassan Hathout
We praise Allah. We bear witness that there is no God but Him, and we bear witness that Mohammed is His messenger and the Prophet. We ask Allah to shed His Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, upon his family, his companions, and his followers to the day of judgment.
My dear Brethren, the subject which I would like to share with you today has been a matter of grave concern to me, when I look at the Muslim Ummah in America and try to project upon the future.
A strong community is made of itsí units, and the unit of a strong community is a strong family.
But I have been appalled at the rate of divorce among Muslims in the United States, broken families. It is even approaching the divorce rate of the rest of the American Nation.
Moreover I realize, that there is so much confusion about the issue of divorce, amongst lay Muslims, and even amongst Islamic Leaderships in many Islamic Centers.
Divorce is the most hated of the lawful things to Allah in Islam. The Prophet, Peace and Blessing be upon him, says, "The Throne of Ar-Rahman trembles for a divorce."
I have realized that there are causes which can be pointed at, which have contributed to this rising incidence of divorce amongst Muslims.
To start with there is carelessness and superficiality, in making the choice of the concept in the first place. So many people marry women for their beauty, they fall in love and they marry. Then six months or a year later, they are divorced.
The Prophet, Peace and Blessing be upon him, said "A woman is to be married for one of four things; her beauty, her family status, her wealth and her religion. So, take the one with the religion."
Unfortunately many Muslims, young and old, are attracted to superficial looks, which are not that durable. What is durable is the faith in the heart and the Taqwa of Allah, Praised and Exalted be He.
One of the causes also is that regrettably, many of the Muslim homes in America have become secular homes. They are not Muslim homes.
The difference between a Muslim home and a secular home, is that Allah, Praised and Exalted be He, has His continual presence in a Muslim home. They heed Him, and feel Him, and they fear Him as if they see Him, for even though they donít see Him, He sees them.
This would change the equation, because the relation between husband and wife, becomes part of the relation with Allah, Praised and Exalted be He. There will be room to appreciate the saying of the Prophet, Peace and Blessing be upon him, "Let the believer not forsake the believing wife. If he doesnít like something about her, then there are sure things about her he would like."
Allah, Praised and Exalted be He, enjoins us in the Quran,
wal ya'fuu wal yasfahuu alaa tuhibuuna ay yagfira Allaahu lakum
Forgive and forego, donít you like that Allah forgives you?
To be forgiven by Allah, is to be forgiving to our fellow human, top most of whom are our own husband or wife.
I also realized that there is ignorance about the issues amongst people, even amongst leaderships. Because, although divorce can be lawful, it should be the last resort.
It is like the operation of amputation, in the science of surgery. You do not amputate, unless it is the last resort.
Although Allah, Praised and Exalted be He, put the right to divorce in the hands of the husband. It means a larger responsibility of the husband.
It means the hope that the man would not be emotional, as I found many times in our community, a man hastily says to his wife, "You are divorced."
Thank God that such men are not entrusted with the Atomic Bomb. Then in a moment of anger, the anger could lead to catastrophic results.
Of course also, Islam, may put the right to divorce in the hands of the woman, if this is one of the conditions of the marriage contract. It is up to the woman to stipulate in the marriage contract, that she has the right of divorce.
Of course even if she doesnít do that, anytime she feels that she is wronged beyond repair, she can go to court and sue for a divorce.
Islamic Jurisprudence has divided divorce into two types. One is called "altalaqu alsunni", the other is called "altalaqu albidae."
The first complies with the prescriptions of the Prophet, Peace and Blessing be upon him, and his teachings, and the other does not comply, and is called is a reprehensible innovation.
The scholars have divided opinions on this latter divorce, and some even say that it is not valid, because it doesnít go according to the rules prescribed by the Prophet, and because the Prophet, said "Anything that doesnít follow our traditions is to be rejected."
I would like to remind you of some of the features of the rightful divorce, that is divorce compliant with Islamic rules.
First, it should be out of necessity. It should be the only option remaining, and not just on the whim of the moment. It should be preceded by an attempt at arbitration.
Allah, Praised and Exalted be He, says in the Quran,
fab'athuu hakamam min ahlihi wa hakamam min ahlihaa,
iy yurida_ isla_hay yuwaffiqilla_hu bainahuma_
Send an arbiter representing her, and one representing him, if their intention is to reconcile, then Allah will guide them to reconcile.
Then, divorce should not be the result of anger, named in the Shariah as talaqu Ilighlaq. If a man becomes so angry and in the peak of his anger he says to his wife, "You are divorced." then this is not valid, as if he said nothing.
This is also applied, when a drunken man divorces his wife, also the case of a man compelled (by threat of violence, someone holds a knife to his throat) to say that his wife is divorced, these cases are not valid.
The Prophet, Peace and Blessing be upon him, said,
"My nation are exempted from mistakes they do inadvertently, when they are forgetful (like taking a sip of water in Ramadhan) and that which they compelled to do."
Divorce is not valid, if it takes place during the menstrual period of the wife. If during the wifeís menstruation, her husband says, "You are divorced." It doesnít count.
If in the clean period after the menstruation, he divorces her after having had sex with her in that clean period, then this is not valid, it is not considered talaqu
If the husband complies so far and divorces, then the wife should not leave the home, as many people do. If a man says to his wife, "You are divorced." she should not leave home, until the waiting period, "the iddah". This is usually the period of three menstrual cycles.
The wisdom of that is to give him a chance to review the situation and maybe change his mind. If she is at home and he feels the need to make love to her, then there is the opportunity that he would do the reclamation, "al morajah", to tell her that "I cancel my divorce." Of course her presence in the house is encouraging for this to happen, because Islam is very keen, that families would not break.
Even if the iddah (period of waiting) has been concluded, then this is the time for divorce to be actually implemented.
Then If he changes his mind, he has the right to remarry her, but it needs a new marriage contract and a new dowry. He can do that once, and he can do it twice, but after two effective implementable divorces, if he divorces her for a third time, then he can not remarry her again, unless she marries another man and divorces him, then the old husband can remarry her another time.
But planning this and hiring a man to marry and divorce the wife just to satisfy the superficialities, is not acceptable in Islam, and is called Mohallal.
The Prophet, Peace and Blessing be upon him, says "God curses that man who arranges to be a Ďfake husbandí and God curses the man who arranges for him to play that role."
Also we know that after divorce, the wife must be compensated, and that takes three forms.
Wa lilmutallaqaati mataa'um bilma'ruuf(i), haqqan 'alal muttaqin(a).
"The divorcees have the right of this muta'ah. And it is enjoined upon the men who fear Allah."
The amount of muta'ah is flexible, thereís no hard and fast rules. The fiqh in the various Muslim countries is variable about that.
There is a rule that whatever is unjust is contrary to the shariah. So the amount of mutaah has to be fair to both parties.
Next comes, documentation, al ishad. Allah, Praised and Exalted be He, says in the Quran,
Fa ithaa balaghna ajalahunna fa amsikuuhunna bima'rufin au faariquuhunna bima'ruufiw wa ashiduu thawai a'dlim minkum wa aqimus shahaadata lil laahi thalikum yuuathu bihi man kaana yu'minu bil laahi wal yaumil aakhir wa may yattaqi Allaaha yajal lahuu makhraja_
Thus when they fulfil their term appointed either take them back on equitable terms or part with them on equitable terms; and take for witness two persons from among you endued with justice and establish the evidence (as) before Allah. Such is the admonition given to him who believes in Allah and the Last Day. And for those who fear Allah He (ever) prepares a way out
"Get two of your fair and just people to be witness to the divorce."
Of course we know that this is necessary for marriage and for divorce, but it looks like nowadays that two witnesses are not enough.
At the time of the Prophet, Peace and Blessing be upon him, when people married, two witnesses were enough. And when they divorced, two witnesses were enough. But later on it was realized that people were no longer as pious as they were in the time of the Prophet, Peace and Blessing be upon him. In all Muslim countries now you can not marry only with two witnesses, but there is a special civil servant, an employee who carries the register and you are registered as married, and he would go and put this in the state records. It is the same about divorce; the documents have to be sent to that civil servant which is called al mazoon.
Many scholars say that unless the divorce is documented then it is not valid. In some country a man divorced his wife without documentation. A man divorcing his wife without documentation. She remarried a year later, and he called the police saying that she was living with another man while she was his wife. She did not have the documentation for her divorce. The scholars said that there was something at fault with the laws of that country.
Because the shariah does not condone injustice, and the documentation should be done so that the mutual rights and responsibilities should not be wasted. And so that injustice is not done to either party.
I am sorry to say that many times in various Islamic Centers, couples go and get married, we say ok and we give him a paper. And when he kicks her out she has no proof that she was married, because the paper from the Islamic Center is not a recognized document in the State of California, or for the American Government.
Therefore what we did was to insist that the people go to the city and get married and bring the license and we fill it up with the Islamic Marriage and give it to them to file.
The same should be also in divorce. It should be a court divorce, to be documented. If they are agreeable to divorce, then the divorce agreement should go to the court to be documented, and if not, then the divorce case should go to the court to be decided.
A divorce by court order is an Islamic Divorce, do not believe that, because it is done in court, it is not Islamic. We are dealing with a civil contract, prescribed by the shariah. So if you live in a place, you abide by itsí laws and when the judge passes the verdict of divorce it is a divorce and the couples should not live together. This is rampant in our community some people divorce in court for tax reasons and live together. They claim this is not an Islamic divorce. This is cheating and Islam did not teach us to cheat. Moslems have to be more aware of this and abide by our religion.
We ask Allah to make us know about His religion and make us able to abide by it.
* * *
My dear brethren it is with regret that we hear the news about the inter-Palestinian clash in Gaza. We expected that and it seems what we feared has happened. Now it is not a Jihad against the Israelis, now it is Muslim killing Muslim, and Palestinian killing Palestinian.
We donít know what to do except that two years ago we almost predicted this would happen and we sent words to them, both sides, that whatever happens Palestinians should not kill Palestinians.
They vowed to keep that promise, but obviously they did not keep that promise. Muslim is killing Muslim, and Palestinian is killing Palestinian, and congratulations Israel, what better than that could you have hoped for.
We have no control over things over there. We believe that if there were faith in the heart, this would not have happened. But, regrettably it does.
This also means that perhaps the remaining hope, for an Islamic future is here in this land, here in this country. Be aware of your responsibility, you look at all the Muslim Countries, especially, all the Arab Countries, and youíll find the picture very bleak, and very dark. We at least here enjoy a measure of freedom and it looks to me that we are the last hope. If we give up on Islam, then nobody is caring for Islam, or working for Islam.
And we ask Allah to enable us to live in this country as Muslims, to let people read Islam in us so that know the proper thing about Islam, not the fallacies, and to enable us to convey Islam to People. Many people are against Islam because they donít know it, when they come to know it, then they say, "we were fools, how ignorant we were."
Thanks to Allah, Praised and Exalted be He, many of them opt to choose Islam as their religion.
The future might be in this country, if we are not as stupid as others and miss the occasion. It is a historical occasion, it is a real opportunity for Islam. We ask Allah, Praised and Exalted be He, that we should not miss that opportunity. Allah is not in a hurry. If we donít qualify, He will wait, until better people come who qualify for His Victory and Support. But we do hope and ask Allah, Praised and Exalted be He, to enable us to be the ones, the long awaited Muslims that would really move on with Islam and spread Islam.