Every effort is made. Perhaps years have passed. Then, the inevitable happens: a Muslim couple gets a divorce.
However it happens, it is tragic and causes a range of emotions. Relief that it’s finally over, shock that it finally took place, a gap in duties… and confusion.
As far as Islamic culture and religious rulings go, for divorcees to suffer doesn’t make any sense. Divorced men and women in the time of the Prophet (PBUH) were supported, remarried and never left out.
However, we are far from this blessed behavior these days. Often the hardest part of divorce for Muslims comes from those outside the marriage itself.
Due to the struggles Muslim divorcees go through, we’ve compiled a list of suggested replies when they are asked awkward questions by members of their family or the concerned Muslim community.
Why didn’t you stay?
Most difficult of all questions to answer due to the pressure of culture and family, this question is heavy with guilt. You may answer that it was your intention in getting married for it to last a lifetime, but it became obvious that it could not be successful. Is it better to be miserable for years, or release two people from misery so they may find happiness with someone else?
It helps to know that this question comes from someone who does not know you very well. With that in mind, they are not entitled to any details in your answer.
Individuals are more concerned with saving face even if they are struggling in the home with marriage issues, because it is more important to protect your reputation to them
But what about the children?
When any marriage breaks, it’s only the marriage itself that has disconnected. That does not have to mean that the children from the marriage live in a ‘broken home’. This is another guilt-heavy phrase that should be removed from everyone’s vocabulary when speaking of divorce. Isn’t a family more broken when children hear their parents arguing, or worse still, silent tears and misery from one or both parents every day?
Is it harder to parent when the parents live apart? Certainly. However, if the parents fear Allah and want what’s best for their children, then they will care for
their children and co-parent with wisdom and mercy.
The two who have been divorced from each other are aware of the reasons for the divorce, and no one outside of either spouse’s therapists or other professionals may need to know the details.
It’s sad, but some people thrive on knowing, and spreading, other people’s pain. There is no need to explain to anyone about the reasons why. Those who respect and love you should trust you to make this important decision with wisdom and intelligence.
If you only did…. You’d still be married
The first thing to answer this question is to remind of the hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) when he said that ‘if’ is from Shaytan. Everything happens for a reason as part of a wise and merciful plan of Allah.
Since this ‘if’ is dripping with guilt, you can avoid it sticking to you by reminding the one who asks that we cannot escape the plan of Allah. Sometimes things work out as we plan, and sometimes they don’t. It is very judgemental and often falls on the woman, implying that she didn’t ‘try hard enough’.
In the end, your situation is a test from Allah. It does make it that much more challenging when other Muslims are unsupportive. However, the truth is that in Islam, divorcees are to be supported, helped and honored by the community just as those who are married.
We hope that we can be a force for change in challenging the stigmas surrounding divorce, and empower our brothers and sisters to have hope. May Allah ease our burdens, bring light to our hearts, and give us the confidence to deal with our community with wisdom when they express concerns regarding divorce.
Divorce is disliked by Allah
We don’t deny that this is from a hadith of Rasul Allah (SAW), yet by the time people have been divorced, it’s done. There is little benefit to point out this hadith at this time.
Often those who quote this hadith judge without knowing anything about the situation of the couple. The couple in question knows their situation best, and the reasons why the marriage had to end. While it is true that divorce is disliked, if the husband and wife have done their part in trying to reconcile the bond but it is still not possible to work things out, then they know that their last resort is to part ways.
Your life is over
It seems extreme to mention, but if it’s not actually said, it is inferred with how some members of the Muslim community react when Muslims divorce.
There is more to life than marriage, as we know that our sole purpose in life is to worship our Creator. People may try to make the divorced couple feel as if their life is over and that no one else would want to marry them. This is far from the truth, as we are aware that divorce is acceptable in Islam and was quite common in the time of our Beloved Prophet (SAW),
We know that Allah tests those whom He loves. If anyone, divorcees included, successfully pass the test, they know that the divorce was a part of a lifelong journey. It will change them for the better, and they will be stronger because of it.
May Allah give success in this life to Muslim divorcees, educate and guide those in the Muslim community who make their challenge more difficult, and give us all rewards in this life and the next for striving to pass our unique tests.