Firm union of the husband and wife is a necessary condition for a happy family life. Islam therefore, insists upon the subsistence of a marriage and prescribes that breach of marriage contract should be avoided. Initially no marriage is contracted to be dissolved but in unfortunate circumstances the matrimonial contract is broken. One of the ways of such dissolution is by way of divorce . Under Muslim law the divorce may take place by the act of the parties themselves or by a decree of the court of law. However in whatever manner the divorce is effected it has not been regarded as a rule of life. In Islam, divorce is considered as an exception to the status of marriage. The Prophet declared that among the things which have been permitted by law, divorce is the worst . Divorce being an evil, it must be avoided as far as possible. But in some occasions this evil becomes a necessity, because when it is impossible for the parties to the marriage to carry on their union with mutual affection and love then it is better to allow them to get separated than compel them to live together in an atmosphere of hatred and disaffection. The basis of divorce in Islamic law is the inability of the spouses to live together rather than any specific cause (or guilt of a party) on account of which the parties cannot live together. A divorce may be either by the act of the husband or by the act of the wife. There are several modes of divorce under the Muslim law, which will be discussed hereafter.
Modes of Divorce: A husband may divorce his wife by repudiating the marriage without giving any reason. Pronouncement of such words which signify his intention to disown the wife is sufficient. Generally this done by talaaq. But he may also divorce by Ila, and Zihar which differ from talaaq only in form, not in substance. A wife cannot divorce her husband of her own accord. She can divorce the husband only when the husband has delegated such a right to her or under an agreement. Under an agreement the wife may divorce her husband either by Khula or Mubarat. Before 1939, a Muslim wife had no right to seek divorce except on the ground of false charges of adultery, insanity or impotency of the husband. But the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939 lays down several other grounds on the basis of which a Muslim wife may get her divorce decree passed by the order of the court.
There are two categories of divorce under the Muslim law: 1.) Extra judicial divorce, and 2.) Judicial divorce
The category of extra judicial divorce can be further subdivided into three types, namely, • By husband- talaaq, ila, and zihar. • By wife- talaaq-i-tafweez, lian. • By mutual agreement- khula and mubarat. The second category is the right of the wife to give divorce under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939.
Talaaq: Talaaq in its primitive sense means dismission. In its literal meaning, it means “setting free”, “letting loose”, or taking off any “ties or restraint”. In Muslim Law it means freedom from the bondage of marriage and not from any other bondage. In legal sense it means dissolution of marriage by husband using appropriate words. In other words talaaq is repudiation of marriage by the husband in accordance with the procedure laid down by the law. The following verse is in support of the husband’s authority to pronounce unilateral divorce is often cited: “Men are maintainers of women, because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property (on their maintenance and dower) . When the husband exercises his right to pronounce divorce, technically this is known as talaaq. The most remarkable feature of Muslim law of talaaq is that all the schools of the Sunnis and the Shias recognize it differing only in some details. In Muslim world, so widespread has been the talaaq that even the Imams practiced it . The absolute power of a Muslim husband of divorcing his wife unilaterally, without assigning any reason is widely criticized.