As I have discussed earlier, marriage in Islam primarily aims at sexual reproduction for the continuation of the human race. Moreover, marriage in Islam is a solemn covenant or a strong pledge which binds the husband and wife together in a beautiful relationship, based on love, compassion, understanding, mutual respect and care. Through the sacred institution of marriage new families come into being, which form the basic unit of the society. Therefore, the Islamic laws regarding marriage aim at strengthening the marital bond and a breach of the marriage contract is discouraged. However, Islam recognizes the fact that due to unfortunate circumstances problems can creep into a marriage. Therefore Islam has remedied this problem with the Ila law so that a troubled marriage does not have to be continued for ever.
According to the Islamic Ila law, a man can repudiate his marriage by taking an oath of not having any sexual relation with his wife for a maximum period of four months. The term Ila means an oath of ‘abstinence from sexual relationship with one’s wife’ taken by the husband, for a stipulated period of time. Thus, the law dealing with ila /separation in a marriage is the law of Ila. According to this law the husband is given four months time (maximum) during which, though his marriage would continue to be valid, but he will be entitled to live separately from his wife, in a practical sense. In verse 2:226 Allah (swt) says that the people who take an oath about living separately from their wives (due to some mutual differences, altercations etc) will get a 4 month period in which they can abstain from a sexual relationship with their wife. In the meantime, if they change their minds within this period and return to their wives, then Allah (swt) will forgive them as Allah (swt) is All-Forgiving and Merciful. At the end of this stipulated period the estranged couple is given two options. They can either reunite or else they may have to seek a divorce so that they can go ahead and marry a person of their choice. Now let us probe into the historical background of this law in order to understand it better. This law was initiated in order to stop a cruel and offensive practice that was rampant in the Jahilliyah period. During those days, the men were free to divorce their wives at the drop of a hat and reunite with them whenever it suited them. The men had complete freedom to indulge in this evil practice as and when they wished. Consequently, their wives were left dangling as they could neither lead a normal married life and nor could they marry someone else. The Islamic law of Ila brought to an end such atrocities towards the womenfolk. According to the Islamic ruling mentioned in verse 2:236 of the Holy Quran, if a man takes an oath of living separately from his wife for a month or two and after the stipulated time period he returns to his wife, then he will not have to give any Kuffarah (compensation). However, if a man returns to his wife and resumes his marital life before the end of the stipulated time, he will have to give compensation. On the other hand, if a man takes an oath that he will live separately from his wife for more than four months or if he takes an oath of separation till an indefinite time, then such people have been commanded to change their decision in verse 2:236. In this verse Allah (swt) commands the married men to take an oath for a maximum period of 4 months. After the four month duration they will either have to reunite with their wives or else they may have to divorce them. The men are not supposed to put their wives stranded beyond four months. If a man does not return to his wife at the end of the stipulated period of his oath and neither does he divorce her, then the Shariah court is empowered to force the man to chose any one option, i.e. reunion or divorce so that the women is saved from humiliation and oppression.
Keep Me In Your Prayers.