Divorce laws in the Glorious Quran are simple and easy to follow. So, let's not make it complicated by wavering from the contents of the relevant Quranic verses.
First read on your own, verses 1 to 7 and then go over the following contents of this blog entry.
"O Prophet! When you (men) put away women, put them away for their (legal) period and reckon the period, and keep your duty to Allah, your Lord. Expel them not from their houses nor let them go forth unless they commit open immorality. Such are the limits (imposed by) Allah; and whoso transgresses Allah's limits, he verily wrongs his soul. You knowest not: it may be that Allah will afterward bring some new thing to pass." 65:1
The above Verse 65:1 mentions about separation, as the first step, in case of differences between spouses. "put them away" could refer as sleeping in different rooms of the same home, or living in different homes. This legal period of separation which is generally followed after 2 pronouncements of divorce and before the 3rd, is for a period of 4 months. It's basically a decision-making period as clarified as follows.
Verse 2:226 mentions the legal period for separation which is 4 months.
"Those who forswear their wives must wait four months; then, if they change their mind, lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." 2:226 Al-Baqrah
"Then, when they have reached their term, take them back in kindness or part from them in kindness, and call to witness two just men among you, and keep your testimony upright for Allah. Whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day is exhorted to act thus. And whosoever keeps his duty to Allah, Allah will appoint a way out for him," 65:2.
The above Verse 65:2 is self-explanatory. When the 4-month decision making period is over, the couple are required to make a definite decision. Either the husband must decide to take back his wife or decide upon a divorce. In either case it must be done with respect and kindness.
After the marriage is legally dissolved, physical intimacy becomes illegal. Thus, the 3-month waiting period for the woman (Verse 65:4) serves the purpose of determining the paternity of the unborn child, in case the divorced woman is in the very early stages of pregnancy at the time of divorce. Do not confuse or mix-up the 4-month separation before divorce and the 3-month waiting period after divorce. These are two very separate issues.
"And for such of your women as despair of menstruation, if you doubt, their period (of waiting) shall be three months along with those who have it not. And for those with child, their period shall be till they bring forth their burden. And whosoever keeps his duty to Allah, He makes his course easy for him." 65:4
All divorced women are to wait for 3 months following the divorce and prior to re-marriage (if they so decide), excepting those who are pregnant. Divorced pregnant women can re-marry soon after they have given birth. This law has to be strictly observed in all divorce cases. The importance has been further highlighted in Verse 65:5
"That is the commandment of Allah which He reveals unto you. And whoso keeps his duty to Allah, He will remit from him his evil deeds and magnify reward for him." 65:5
P.S. This Verse 65:4 will be taken up again, later in this post, to explain another very essential point.
Responsibilities of the husband during separation:
"Lodge them where you dwell, according to your wealth, and harass them not so as to straiten life for them. And if they are with child, then spend for them till they bring forth their burden. Then, if they give suck for you, give them their due payment and consult together in kindness; but if you make difficulties for one another, then let some other woman give suck for him (the father of the child)." 65:6
"Let him who has abundance spend of his abundance, and he whose provision is measured, let him spend of that which Allah has given him. Allah asks naught of any soul save that which He has given it. Allah will vouchsafe, after hardship, ease." 65:7
Husbands must deal kindly and fairly with their spouses during such a period when their marriage is estranged and while they are in the process of making a decision. They are to keep their wives in their homes, not harass them and are responsible for their expenses according to their financial means. In case, the wife is pregnant, the husband has to be with her till she gives birth and must take full responsibility of caring for matters as is necessary in such a situation, according to his financial means. This includes hiring a female caretaker to breastfeed the baby, if necessary for whatever reasons.
AFTER DIVORCE, THE WOMAN CANNOT RE-MARRY HER EX-HUSBAND,UNLESS ..
"And if he hath divorced her (the third time), then she is not lawful unto him thereafter until she hath wedded another husband. Then if he (the other husband) divorce her it is no sin for both of them that they come together again if they consider that they are able to observe the limits of Allah. These are the limits of Allah. He manifesteth them for people who have knowledge." 2:230
If the decision to divorce is pronounced the third time after the 4-month period of separation, then divorce is final and there can be no reconciliations. The wife cannot return to the husband even if he changes his mind and wants her back. In such a case, she can only re-marry her former husband after she's married to some other man and divorced again. It's also important to mention that her marriage and divorce to another man must NOT be a set-up, done with a pre-planned intent to return to her former husband.
PROVISION MUST FOR WOMEN EVEN IF DIVORCED BEFORE CONSUMMATION OF MARRIAGE
"It is no sin for you if ye divorce women while yet ye have not touched them, nor appointed unto them a portion. Provide for them, the rich according to his means, and the straitened according to his means, a fair provision. (This is) a bounden duty for those who do good." (2:236)
"If ye divorce them before ye have touched them and ye have appointed unto them a portion, then (pay the) half of that which ye appointed, unless they (the women) agree to forgo it, or he agreeth to forgo it in whose hand is the marriage tie. To forgo is nearer to piety. And forget not kindness among yourselves. Allah is Seer of what ye do." (2:237)
"For divorced women a provision in kindness: a duty for those who ward off (evil)." (2:241)
"O you who believe! If you wed believing women and divorce them before you have touched them, then there is no period that you should reckon. But content them and release them handsomely." (33:49)
All the above three verses of Surah Al-Baqrah (Verses 2:236, 237 and 241) convey the message that though divorce is allowed before the consummation of the marriage, yet, even in such a case, the woman MUST be given some compensation as her portion. If the marriage breaks off before consummation and the husband has not yet decided a portion of money or gift for her, then he will have to decide to give her something at that time.
DO NOT INTERFERE WITH THE LIVES OF DIVORCEES AND WIDOWS
And when ye have divorced women and they reach their term, place not difficulties in the way of their marrying their husbands if it is agreed between them in kindness. This is an admonition for him among you who believeth in Allah and the Last Day. That is more virtuous for you, and cleaner. Allah knoweth; ye know not. (2:232)
Such of you as die and leave behind them wives, they (the wives) shall wait, keeping themselves apart, four months and ten days. And when they reach the term (prescribed for them) then there is no sin for you in aught that they may do with themselves in decency. Allah is informed of what ye do. (2:234)
The above verses of Surah Al-Baqrah (2:232 and 234) confirm two aspects. First, divorced women are entitled to lead their own lives and re-marry of their own choice. Their ex-spouses or their families are not to interfere. Secondly, in case of widows, their waiting period before they decide to re-marry is 4 months and 10 days. Thus, the waiting period for widows is a bit longer than that required for divorcees, which is 3 months.
"(In the case of) those of you who are about to die and leave behind them wives, they should bequeath unto their wives a provision for the year without turning them out, but if they go out (of their own accord) there is no sin for you in that which they do of themselves within their rights. Allah is Mighty, Wise." [2:240]
Though widowhood and being divorced are two separate issue, Verse 2:240 about widows needs to be clarified. It involves the rights of widows. It's taken for those who are co-wives and do not have grown-up children to support them. In the 7th century (and probably even now) in polygamous families, if a man passes away leaving behind 2, 3 or 4 wives, and any of the wives are childless or with a minor child or children while the other wives (or wife) have adult children capable of earning and supporting the family (mainly sons in those days), they would sometimes refuse to support their father's widow or widows (or their stepmothers). Thus, this verse is a dictate saying that all such dependent widows have a right over their husband's families to support them financially for at least a year after their husband's death, unless they desire to leave on their own in a respectable manner. This appears to be the most plausible explanation. However, only Allah knows best.
THE NOBLE QURAN DOES NOT MENTION MARRIAGE OF UNDER-AGE GIRLS
"And for such of your women as despair of menstruation, if ye doubt, their period (of waiting) shall be three months, along with those who have it not. And for those with child, their period shall be till they bring forth their burden. And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, He maketh his course easy for him." 65:4 (Surah At-Talaq)
Coming back to Verse 65:4 of Surah At-Talaq (Divorce), the following point is very important to explain in detail.
As we can read, Verse 65:4 deals with the waiting period of divorcees. It does NOT make any references of marriage of under-aged females as wrongly and ignorantly claimed by various non-Muslims, and also by the equally unthinking Hadith adhering Muslims.
The portion of the Verse on focus is: "along with those who have it not." In original Quraanic Arabic it would read as:
واللائي لم يحضن
"waallaee lam yahidna" (transliteration)
Non-Muslim fundamentalist groups use this line of Ayat 65:4 as Quranic permission to wed under-aged girls, implying that it refers to pre-menstrual girls. Totally incorrect. They have either not understood this line or most likely, they intentionally misinterpret it.
It has also been observed that most traditionalists who take their guidance from Hadith rather than the Noble Quran, often interpret Verse 65:4 as permission to marry under-age (or pre-menstrual) females with the purpose of making it compatible with the Hadith which gives the wrong impression that child marriages were rampant throughout Islamic history. This idea is transmitted by Hadith through those several unauthentic narrations falsifying Aisha's (ra) age as six during the time of her marriage to the Prophet (SAAW) and nine at the time of consummation of marraige. For supporting these concocted narrations, many of our ulemas misinterpret the above mentioned portion of Verse 65:4 as a reference to minor girls.
Just for everyone's information, the story of Aisha's (ra) under-age marriage has long been proven wrong with concrete references and evidences as analysed by T.O. Shahnavaz in his article Was Aisha (ra) a six-year-old bride? The ancient myth exposed.
In truth, the expression of Verse 65:4 .. "along with those who have it not." refers to women who have reached/crossed the menstruating age but have not yet started to menstruate because of physiological problems/abnormalities. The Arabic insertion "lam" refers to "did not" or "does not" .. thus, referring to women who did not get their menarche when they came to that age and continued not to. The same expression also implies to women who had their menarche and continued to menstruate for some years, but then stopped because of physiological reasons or due to some illness. Hence, the meaning of "along with those who have it not" is that all such women who have stopped menstruating (for whatever reasons) before reaching menopause must wait for 3 months along with those who are menopausal. Further, those who are pregnant, must wait till they have given birth.
It's amazing to know that even in modern times, despite advanced medical treatments/procedures, there are many women who stop menstruating much before the normal menopausal age because of any number of medical reasons.
To explore the issue of absense of menses in young women or relatively young women well before the normal menopausal age, check the wealth of information contained in the online medical encyclopedia "Menstruation absent."
In the 7th century, the Glorious Quran took into consideration those aspects of the human body that are still under study at present. The efforts of those bent upon discrediting the Quran is only making them discredit themselves, exposing their own lack of knowledge in the 21st century about facts already referred to in the Quran in the 7th century.