Islamic Voice
Rabi-ul-Akhir 1422H
July 2001
Volume 15-07 No:175

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Edited by Adil Salahi

Divorce or no Divorce
Full Ablution: Five Conditions under which it Becomes Obligatory
Husband's Long Separation
Love Marriage
Marriage Expenses and Inheritance
Procedure of Divorce
Life Insurance
Family Planning

Divorce or no Divorce

Q. A worker here went home on vacation and learnt that his wife had an extramarital relationship with someone in his absence. He was advised by friends and scholars to divorce her. Accordingly, he wrote her a divorce note and addressed it to her at her parents' home where she was living. In the meantime, she came to him and he questioned her about her misbehaviour, but she declined all knowledge of that. He did not tell her about the divorce note, because he feared that she might go to the police and he would be arrested. He sent the divorce note after he came back to Saudi Arabia. On receiving it, she went to the police and he is now wanted by the police in his home country. If he goes back, he will be arrested, and will remain behind bars until the court has decided the case. What he is worried about is the relationship between them when she came to him after he had written the divorce note. She had not yet received it and was not aware that it would be coming to her. Was this relationship between them sinful

(M. S. Baig, Riyadh)

A. First of all, this man should realize that he should not take such a drastic step as divorcing his wife until he is absolutely certain of her misconduct. Apparently he was not, because when she came to him and denied that, he welcomed her to stay with him and to resume their marital relationship. In that period, he was in an indeterminate relationship with her. She stayed with him as his wife, when he had already written a divorce note and dared not send it, or even say to his wife that he was divorcing her.

Certainty in this case it was necessary, because doubt could easily led to injustice. God does not approve injustice to anyone, least of all to those for whose welfare we are responsible. There is something wrong in the situation where this man lives with his wife for a couple of weeks, when he knows that he is intent on divorcing her because of her alleged misconduct. As to the relationship between them, the man is within his rights if he divorces his wife, even though the law in his country requires the divorce to go through a certain process. However, Islam does not like its followers to fall foul of the law under which they live, provided it gives them their rights. Hence, it would have been better for this man to initiate the divorce according to the law in his country, in order not to expose himself to punishment.

The question now is what relationship the couple have had since the writing of the divorce note. The answer is that, since the man is fully intent on divorcing his wife, the divorce takes effect immediately, and the woman should observe her waiting period once she is aware of it. When she came to him and he accepted her, going back to full marital relationship, this constitutes a reunion or a re-marriage, because it took place within the woman’s waiting period.

From that moment, she was back as his wife. However, he sent her the divorce note after leaving India and coming back to Saudi Arabia. This constitutes a second divorce, and she should again observe a waiting period lasting until she has completed her third menstruation after the divorce. When that point is reached, the divorce process is complete and she is free to marry another man, if she wishes. As this is the second divorce, they could be reunited again in marriage but should they divorce again, that would be final and they cannot be reunited a third time. This means that the relationship between the couple after the first divorce note was not sinful, because it constituted a remarriage. God says in the Qur’an concerning the waiting period of a divorcee: “During this (waiting) period, their husbands are entitled to take them back, if they desire reconciliation.” (2: 228)


Full Ablution:

Five Conditions under which it Becomes Obligatory

Q. Kindly explain the conditions when a full ablution (ghusl) becomes compulsory?

The conditions which require any Muslim to have full ablution which necessitates that all one’s body should be washed with water as happens when one takes a bath or dives in a swimming pool or in a river or sea. That such full ablution is required evidence by two Quranic verses: When you are in a state of ceremonial impurity, purify yourselves.

Full ablution is required in any of the following conditions

(1) The ejaculation of semen in a state of excitement, whether during sleep or when awake and whether by a man or a women. This is generally agreed by Muslim scholars. Abu Sa’eed Al- Khudri quotes Allah’s messenger as saying: “Use water for water.” (Related by Muslim). This means that washing oneself with water is necessary for the ejaculation of semen, which is referred to in the Prophet’s pronouncement as “water”

It is useful to draw attention to the following cases which occur quite often.

i) If semen is discharged without excitement, by reason of an illness or feelingcold, then full ablution is not required. According to Ali, the Prophet said to him. “ If you eject water forcefully, you have a full ablution.” (Related by Abu Dawood.)

Mujahid reported that a group of scholars who studied under Ibn Abbas, including Tawoos. Saeed ibn Jubair and Ikrimah (each one of them became a renowned scholar) were sitting in a circle in the Mosque while Ibn Abbas (the Prophet’s cousin) was engaged in his prayers. A man came to them and asked whether there was among them anyone who could give religious rulings. When they asked him to put his question he said “Every time I pass water, it is followed by the gushing water? They asked him whether he meant the water which causes conception and pregnancy. He answered in the affirmative, and they told him that he must have full ablution every time. The man went away repeating the phrase La hawla wala quwwata illa billah, which translates as “no force or power can be effective except with Allah’s permisssion.” ( This is the phrase repeated by Muslims when they encounter something unpleasant.) Ibn Abbas completed his prayers in haste and when he had finished he asked Ikrimah to call the man back. He then turned to his students and said: You see, this ruling you gave this man, is it based on some verse in the Quran? When they answered in the negative he questioned them whether it is based on a statement by the Prophet. They again answered in the negative, and he went on: Is your authority, then, any of the companions of the Prophet? Again, the answer was: No. He said: How come, then, that you give such a ruling? They answered: It is our considered opinion. He said: For this reason, the Prophet says: “A single scholar is much harder for Satan to defeat than a thousand worshippers.” When the man came back, Ibn Abbas questioned him:When you have that discharge, do you feel excitement in your genital organ? The man said: No.Ibn Abbas asked him again: Do you feel any numbness in your body? When the man answered in the negative, Ibn Abbas told him that he did not need to have full ablution. Only ordinary ablution (i.e wadhu) was necessary.

ii) If a person has what should normally be a wet dream, but he cannot find any trace of semen, he need not have a full ablution. (This is unanimously agreed by all scholars). If the person concerned, however, discharges the semen after he or she wakes up, then they should have a full ablution.

iii) If a person does not remember having any wet dream, but he nevertheless, feels wetness on his body or clothes, he should have full ablution if he is certain that the wetness is that of semen. It is obvious that he must have discharged it during a wet dream which he had forgotten. If he is in doubt ablution is necessary as a proper precaution.

iv) If a person, feeling that he is about to ejaculate, holds his genital organ tight to prevent discharge, he need not have full ablution. Only actual discharge requires full ablution. If, however, he subsequently discharges semen, then he should have full ablution.

v) If he notices traces of dry semen on his clothes and he is not aware of the time when it actually occurred, he should have full ablution and repeat any prayer he had offered since he last woke up, unless there are some indications to suggest that the ejaculation was even earlier than that. In the latter case, he repeats his prayers since the nearest sleep he thinks to be the one during which he ejaculated.

2) Secondly, when the two genitals are brought together, even though no ejaculation takes place. Al-Shafie states in connection with the Quranic verse which is the basis of this ruling: When you are in a state of ceremonial impurity, purify yourself. That the term janabah used in the Quranic text denotes sexual intercourse, even without ejaculation. If it is said Mr. X had Janaba with Mrs.X. it is understood that he had sexual intercourse with her, even if he did not ejaculate. All scholars are unanimous that fornication which incurs the statutory punishment of flogging is intercourse. It is necessary for full ablution to be required that intercourse takes place. The mere contact with genitals does not require either a man or a women to have full ablution.

3) Thirdly, when menstruation ceases. This is based on the Quranic verse which states: Do not come close to them (i.e. a women) until they regain their condition of purity. When they have purified themselves then go into them from whence Allah has commanded you. The Prophet said to Fatima bint Abu Hubaish: “Do not pray for as many days as you used to menstruate. Then, have full ablution and resume prayers.” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.) Although this concerns menstruation, postnatal bleeding is treated in the same way as menses.

4) Fourthly, death if a Muslim dies, he must be given a full bath.

5) Fifthly, when a non -believer embraces Islam. He should have full ablution.


Husband's Long Separation

Q. It is ruled that a husband who leaves his wife so as she does not know his whereabouts, the marriage is terminated after four years. What happens in this situation, if the woman gets married to a second man, but her first husband reappears after two or more years? What is her status vis-à-vis both marriages? What is the situation if the wife is the one who is absent?

A. A long absence by itself is no ground for the dissolution of the marriage. What Umar ruled on was an absence without any trace. In old times, there was no way of knowing whether a person who travelled to a far away place was dead or alive. If he had a wife and family, he would be expected either to send word of his whereabouts, or to come and visit them. If he did neither, then there was no way of establishing whether he was still alive. Hence, Umar ruled, and none of the Prophet’s companions disagreed with him, that a four-year period was enough to declare the marriage nullified. Even though the man might be alive, such an absence was deemed detrimental to his wife and her welfare. Hence, the ground for nullification of the marriage. this ruling of Umar is applicable today or not is questionable. It does not apply to any long absence, when the wife or the husband’s family are aware of his whereabouts. With communication made so easy through letter, fax, telephone, e-mail, etc. and travel being so easy, it is difficult to imagine a situation where a person is lost without trace, unless he come to a serious misfortune. It is often the case that a person lost trace is later found dead in an accident or a crime. Moreover, it is much easier today to establish this than it used to be at the time of Umar. The husband remains absent for no valid reason, the family law of some Muslim countries permit nullification of the marriage if the wife applies for it after one year. There are certain conditions for that.

This is in accordance with the Hanbali and Maliki schools of law. If the husband’s place of residence abroad is known, it is necessary to notify him of his wife’s application for a nullification of the marriage before the case is heard. If a marriage is nullified on grounds of a long absence by the husband, after all measures to establish his whereabouts fail, then the marriage is over. That is a decision of an Islamic court based on the husband’s failure to fulfill his marital duties, thereby causing harm to his wife. If the wife marries someone else, her marriage is valid. Should the first husband reappear after such a long absence, he has no claim over her, and he cannot seek a reunion with her merely on the basis of his reappearance.

In the case that the wife is the one who is absent, the situation is totally different. There is nothing to stop her husband to divorce her or to marry a second wife. Should she reappear after that, she is still his wife.


Love Marriage

Q. Is it permissible for a teacher to be married to his girl student. I have no problem with that except to say that a teacher would not have decided to marry a student of his unless he has watched her and admired her for sometime. Such a decision is not taken overnight. Hence, a question may be raised concerning such period and what happens between them. The approval indirectly offers a green signal to go ahead with love and then marriage. The whole idea should be discouraged. Please comment.

A. The first point I would like to say is that an answer is given according to the question put. I am not one to inquire into people’s motives and inner intentions. That is something known to God and He deals with His servants accordingly. Since the teacher wants to marry the girl, there is nothing wrong with that. Why should we go into the details of how he came to this decision? We are not required, or indeed permitted to inquire into that, except for a headmaster or someone in authority trying to ensure that people within the school do not overstep the Islamic limits.

Moreover, it is wrong to be suspicious of others simply because they express an intention of marriage. Of course people would like first of all to make sure that the person they are marrying satisfies their hopes. This applies to both man and woman. Hence, Islam permits a serious suitor to look at the woman he intends to marry in a way he is not supposed to do with others. The Prophet told Jabir, one of his companions who was looking for a wife: “If you can see of her what encourages you to marry her, do so.” Jabir says that he watched her from his hiding place so that she was not aware of him. Then he proposed to her, putting the proposal to her father.

Sometimes we read Islamic teachings in a very restrictive manner, particularly when it comes to man and woman relations. Islam is very clear in its approach. It cultivates into its followers, men and women, a sense of modesty and a high moral standard. It then allows them a married, of course both he and his prospective wife should know each other. Hence, they are allowed to meet within clearly drawn limits so as to be sure. If it so happens that one finds himself in a situation to know someone well, as in the case of a teacher and student, or colleagues at work, there is nothing wrong in that, provided that they take the right move, with a serious proposal put through the family. God says to the Prophet: No other women are henceforth lawful to you, nor are you allowed to replace any of them by other wives, even though their beauty should please you greatly.” (33: 52) In this verse God mentions the possibility that the Prophet might admire the beauty of women whom he could marry, except for this order restricting him to the wives he had at that time. I think the language of this Qur’anic verse is self-explanatory.


Marriage Expenses and Inheritance

Q. I am the only son of my parents who also have five daughters younger than me. I have contributed heavily to the expenses of my sisters' marriages, and now I am saving to see my fifth sister married. Our father died recently, and the house he left behind is now in our mother's name. If we sell the house to share our father's inheritance, what is my share considering the expenses I have paid?

A. What you have paid to see your sisters married does not affect your share of inheritance. You will be rewarded richly by God, if He so pleases, for your goodly action, and this reward may come sooner rather than later, but it does not come in the shape of a different rate of inheritance. Since you are the only son, it is your lot to help your sisters, and this will be rewarded Insha Allah. But do not expect to have that reward in an increased share of inheritance.

Your father’s estate should be divided as follows: one-eighth to your mother. The remainder is divided into seven shares, with each of your five sisters receiving one share, and you yourself take two shares.

This case provides just one example of the heavy responsibilities shouldered by men in Muslim families. Here is one son paying most of the marriage expenses of his five sisters. It is only natural that he should receive more, because of his heavy responsibilities, to theirs. He is thus given a double share in order to help him with his responsibilities.


Procedure of Divorce

Q. What is the proper procedure of divorce?

A. If one wants to divorce his wife, he should make sure of the appropriate time, which is after she has finished her menstruation period and before having any sexual intercourse with her. If she is in the period or in a state of of cleanliness during which an intercourse has taken place, he should wait until the appropriate time. Then he pronounces divorce, such as saying, “I am divorcing my wife --”. He says this once only. If he says it three times, he commits a sin. He informs his wife of the fact so that she starts her waiting period, which extends until she has completed either three menstruation periods or three cleanliness periods. During this time, she stays with him in their family home, they use separate bedrooms. He is responsible for her upkeep, and he has the advantage of reinstating the marriage if they both agree, without having to have a new marriage contract (Nikah). If the waiting period lapses and no reunion takes place, the divorce procedure is complete and she re-joins her family. After the waiting period is over, they may still be reunited in marriage, but this will require a new contract and a new dowry, provided that this is their first or second divorce.


Life Insurance

Q. A few months ago, I took a state life policy, which requires me to pay a certain amount every year for 20 years. I receive a payment every seven years and a final payment when the policy matures. Is it acceptable in Islam?

A. According to an increasing number of scholars who have studied the subject of insurance in detail, it is permissible to resort to insurance, as long as one is aware that his premiums are invested by the insurance company in a permissible way. Even life insurance is felt by such scholars to be permissible as it does not guarantee life; it guarantees compensation for the family of the insured person on his or her death.


Family Planning

Q. What is the Islamic viewpoint on the Family Planning, particularly in a country like India where there is practically a population explosion ?

A: The answer is that every person should decide for himself and every marriedcouple may determine the number of children they want to have. For a coupleto decide to limit the number of children they have is perfectly valid. They then determine the method of contraception they use, provided that it is safe. As a national policy, family planning is a more complex matter. It should be approached very carefully. In most cases, its negative effects outweigh its positive ones.


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