I am a Catholic who has a very sincere respect for the Islamic faith. I would like to know the regulations of marriage in Islam. In Catholicism, divorce is permitted only under certain conditions, which include abuse, absence of sexual intercourse, or if one or both parties did not willingly and knowingly consent. But, a healthy marriage is considered blessed and the two are joined together as one. One cannot file for divorce, simply because of a period of unhappiness. Only if it is a last resort, and counseling and prayer has been tried, can one file for an annulment or divorce in the church. Islamic law seems to make lighter of this sacred bond between man and woman. Please correct me if I am wrong.
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Thank you again for your question. You seem to be reading a lot, and I’m glad of that. May God guide you – and all of us – to the truth.
In Islam, marriage is a blessed bond and social contract. The woman and man, both have to consent to the marriage and cannot be forced into it. If it is her first marriage, some scholars go for the opinion that the woman must also have the consent of her father or guardian. This is to protect her from marrying out of passionate love someone who is unsuitable.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised Muslims to choose a wife on the basis of her piety. Someone may choose a wife for her wealth, beauty, or high family, but all these qualities may disappear. Piety is lasting. If the man and wife are both pious, they will make every effort to keep their marriage intact and not divorce for trivial reasons.
But Islam recognizes that men and women sometimes err in choosing a marriage partner. Islam also realizes that changes within them or in their circumstances, might later make them unhappy together. Should they be forced to remain together? There are countless examples in literature – Jane Eyre and Angela’s Ashes come to mind – and real life, in which couples were not allowed to divorce.
They either remained miserable together or one – usually the husband – abandoned the other, without any support for the children. Isn’t it better for couples in truly unhappy marriages – especially when there is physical or verbal abuse or alcoholism involved – to be able to divorce and try to start over with a new partner? Wouldn’t that be better for children, than to witness violence every day?
Thus, Islam takes a moderate stance on this. Although divorce is halal (lawful), yet the prophet (pbuh) said:
“Among lawful things, divorce is most hated by Allah.” (Reported by Abu Dawood.)
The Qur’an directs married couples to live together with love, affection and mercy between them and to be patient with each other’s faults. But if they have problems living together harmoniously, they should seek counseling from their families in an effort to keep the marriage intact. These are efforts to bring success to the marriage, before considering divorce.
Islam recognizes the importance of strong healthy families, in order to build a strong healthy society. That is why the Qur’an and hadith (traditions of the prophet) show us how to live together. Divorce should be used only as a last resort, not just whenever one is going through a difficult or unhappy period.
There are several other articles, which deal with this subject in more details. I hope you will take time to read them.
May God guide us all to the truth!
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