You must have seen this ending line in any movie that says ‘And they lived happily ever after…, Since our childhood, watching Disney movies or even Hollywood movies left this idea of Marriage in mind that it is something meant to be a beginning of good days or a solution to many of the problems either emotional or financial, interpreted according to the plot or presented story. It is projected as a magical antidote that removes all the present and upcoming problems of life.
However, not everyone gets to experience this happily ever after in the same way as they thought it to be. It is a believed fact that life cannot be perfect, or the human being cannot reach the level of complete contentment. The whole idea of perfection is not attainable. With a series of unlikable circumstances marriage often makes one’s life more miserable and it continues to stay it is if the right decision is not made by mutual consent of both partners. Even then there are chances of disagreement or difference in opinion from the husband or wife’s side and several reasons for it. Whereas, in several cultural contexts marriage is taken as once in a lifetime event where the man and woman are bound to remain in that relationship till their death.
The idea of separation or having a divorce is taken as taboo. Also, if one does get a divorce is treated as someone inferior assuming that she or he has certain flaws due to which the marriage could not stay ‘forever’. Therefore, there is a need for awareness that marriage should not be taken as a life or death situation where one does remain in the relationship or die else. The idea of separation or having a divorce should not become a source of social guilty for anyone. An individual should be given enough freedom of choice to decide if he/she wants to continue the relationship or not. As it is a believed fact even in a cultural context that marriage is a bond of mutual understanding along with other affectionate characteristics that include love and care.
Every individual should have the basic knowledge of divorce laws as it is one’s right if he/she decides to go for it. Law is medium that is free of cultural biases and based on authentic grounds especially, in the context of Pakistan where the law is based on Islamic principles i.e Shariah. In order to have the knowledge regarding basic divorce law structure not just according to Islamic law but to western law as well, this following article provides a comparison between both laws.
According to Pakistan family laws that are based on shariah regarding marriage there is no precondition to marriage. In which there is a nominal ‘Haq Mehar’ that is fixed by the family according to their own will which implies that there is no fixed amount that the groom is bound to pay.
Moreover, the right to divorce is given to both husband and wife in all Islamic countries where the right to divorce given to the wife is known as ‘Khula’. Whereas, in western countries, the right to divorce in countries such as the US, Australia, and the UK, is given primarily to women. Along with that, there is a condition that if the man wants to divorce his wife, he is bound to give a proper share of his property, income, and inheritance. This implies how flexible Islamic laws are in terms of financial constraints. It can be seen as a positive aspect that allows avoiding any useless delay in the separation where the man might not be willing to give divorce just for the sake of not in favor of sharing a considerable amount of his assets.
Another prominent difference can be noted regarding the procedure of divorce according to various ‘Fqihs’. Here divorce is not a one-time decision in the sense that the man must pronounce three times for it that is considered as One or First Divorce Pronounced as a whole. To understand this comprehensively, this entire concept in Islamic law is based on the idea to ensure that there is a certain time and space provided to both husband and wife before they decide to separate. Therefore, provides a possibility for their reconciliation if they wish to. Therefore, there are these three stages set for divorce. Whereas, in western law, there is no such obligation or stage to pronounce the divorce.
It should be noted though that in western law if after a verbal divorce the couple has a change of mind, they can remake their marriage and the verbal divorce is considered null and void with no penalty or condition to be fulfilled. On the other hand, if a man pronounces verbal divorce and no formal documentation has been made for it the couple can remake but with a condition to provide food to a certain number of people as per shariah.
Moreover, if the couple after divorce wants to remarry there is no set condition in western law. Keeping in view the Islamic law, to remarry there is the concept of ‘halala’ that is a precondition for remarrying according to the shariah.
Comparing both laws on a generic level, western divorce laws provide financial security to women whereas Islamic laws financially do it only for the children if the couple has any. In Islamic law after divorce, the man is not bound to provide monthly expenses to the woman but for the children, there is a set proportion of his income or wealth that is to be given on monthly basis to his children.
Moreover, considering the fact if a man is poor or unable to financially support his children, the Islamic law there are numerous sources. One is the concept of zakat as a social responsibility that can provide economic or financial aid. Also, the concept of family shares can be another source too. Furthermore, the family head which can be any of the grandparents is supposed to take responsibility for their son or daughter’s children. This concept of family head is nowhere to be found in western law. In western law the individuals are responsible to take care of their children, no one else from the family member is bound to support their children in any way.
To sum up, both the Western and Islamic laws of divorce have a significant impact and role in providing liberty to individuals which is culturally appropriate and acceptable worldwide. However, the majority of the public remains ignorant to understand or have a basic knowledge of the law. Hence, one keeps on facing abuse which includes domestic abuse too. Therefore, it is important to have awareness and basic knowledge regarding law that is meant to provide security and general safety to the citizens. One with this knowledge fears less and can strive for a better place in society. One can live happily ever after either a marriage or divorce. It is all about making the right decision at the right time where the law can act as a basic aid to ensure safety and security for all.
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