- a man vows not to sleep with his wife in a marriage that has not yet been consummated; is ee’laa valid in such case? They said, no, it is not valid. They also said, in another opinion, that ee’laa is valid even without consummation since the husband has the right to sleep with his wife, so by vowing not to, he has only postponed what is his right to do.
- Is ee’laa valid for less or more than four months? They said it is only valid from four months upward, while others said it is valid for less than four months. And their reasons are; a) “For those who take an oath for abstention from their wives, a waiting for four months is ordained;” therefore, according to this verse, they are to wait for four months. “….if then they return,” within the period of four months, then, “Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” “But if their intention is firm for divorce,” by not returning to the wives within the period of four months, the wife is divorced, and “Allah heareth and knoweth all things.” This is an opinion of the Hanafischool.
- Others said, “For those who take an oath for abstention from their wives, a waiting for four months is ordained;” completely. “…if they return,” after the expiration of the months, not within it, “Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” “But if their intention is firm for divorce, Allah hears and knows all things.” Allah hears means the husband must pronounce the word of divorce, by declaring to the wife that she is divorced, as against the position of Abu Haneefah that the wife is divorced even without the husband saying so, once the period expires. Therefore, after firm intention for divorce, the decision must be heard, pronounced, and uttered.
- Maliki school said, no; the wife has accepted the fact that the husband has vowed not to sleep with her. She waited for the term of the vowed, after which the husband expiates, and normalcy is restored, and that is all. Why is the issue of divorce mentioned since Allah has said, ‘if their intention is firm for divorce’ and the husband has not so affirmed any intention for divorce? Why should anybody set the marriage asunder? It is not necessary, said the Maliki school, to void the marriage after the expiration of the period, as it is not the husband’s intention to divorce his wife. He vowed, then broke his vow or waited until the vow reached its term, and accepted his wife thereafter; period. Except where she wife goes to the judge and complains about her husband’s desertion, in which case the judge will call the husband and give him the option of having the sexual relationship with his wife within the four-month period, stipulated by Allah, or divorce her, otherwise, the judge will set the marriage asunder.
- On returning to a normal marital relationship in order to break the oath, some said, the husband has to audibly pronounce the words, like, ‘I accept you, make you whole; I break my oath.’ Some of them said, never; what kind of return is this? The man vowed not to have sexual intercourse with his wife. To return properly and break that oath he has to sleep with her. That is the meaning of ‘if they return..’ as mentioned by the Qur’an. What happens where the husband is ill, or has travelled to another country, or is imprisoned? The oath must reach its term and the wife divorced, or what? They said in the case of a disabling impediment to intercourse the oath could be broken by pronouncement with the proviso that intercourse will occur as soon as practicable, the refusal of which sets the marriage asunder. While some of them are averse to this position and said that returning and breaking of the oath should only be achieved through intercourse, whatever is the condition of the husband. Why will the husband make such oath knowing that he is not a position to fulfil the conditions? What about an old man who lacks vigour; can he make the oath? How can one make an oath on something over which he has no control? Surprisingly, some of them said, yes, he can. How will an aged man return to break the oath? They said through intercourse.
On the issue under discussion, Allah has given us a number of options so we do not render void our marriage unions, as we have seen in this verse: admonish, stay away from her to show disapproval of her attitude, and so on, in order to restore normalcy to the marriage consortium. Yes, you are the head of the family but do not act as a dictator. Treat issues with love, compassion and tenderness. Your wife has forsaken everybody in order to be with you, so together both of you can raise a family, a new generation.
She deserves your respect, care and understanding. You must consort with her in kindness, fear Allah, and honour her. Where misunderstanding occurs, as is bound to happen, all efforts must not be spared in resolving the crisis within the confines of the house. Outside intervention, often times, marks the beginning of the end.
Yes, the Qur’an speaks about arbiters from both sides, but that is a worst-case scenario. None of you should noise abroad the problems you face as a couple; not even the children who live with you under the same roof will perceive the existence of any rift. Disagreements and quarrels will come and disappear without your children seeing any traces of disaffection in your countenances.
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