Muslim marriage law in India (part 2) by isha jain @lexcliq


for part 1 of the article, click HERE.

Muslim Marriage Law: Divorce

As per the Muslim marriage, law divorce is permitted under Islam and can be initiated by either party. The Quran forbids a man from seeking pretexts for divorcing his wife if she is obedient and faithful to him. The Prophet curtailed the unbridled power of divorce by the husband and provided the same right to the wife to be exercised on reasonable grounds. The same has been provided for in The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. Divorce was permitted by the Prophet but not encouraged. The marriage can also be dissolved by mutual consent.

The grounds and rules of divorce vary for different sects. A minor married by his or her lawful guardian, other than the father or father’s father, can repudiate the marriage upon attaining puberty. After divorce, cohabitation between the couple becomes illegal and once the divorce is final, they cannot inherit property from each other. The amount of Mahr remaining, if any, becomes payable. The wife is entitled to maintenance during the period of iddat. Remarriage between the couple is possible only if the divorced wife observes iddat, remarries and the second marriage in Islam in India is consummated and voluntarily dissolved by the second husband and the wife observes iddat again.


According to the Muslim Marriage Law, widows and divorcees have the freedom to marry again. In the event of the death of husband or divorce, the woman must first observe a period of iddat, or a period of waiting, before she can remarry, irrespective of her age. If the marriage was dissolved by divorce and had been consummated, then the period of waiting is of 3 courses of her menstrual cycle or, if pregnant, till the delivery of the child. If the first marriage ended due to the death of the husband, then, irrespective of whether the marriage was consummated or not, the period of waiting is of 4 months and 10 days or, if pregnant, till the delivery of the child, whichever period is longer.

 Polygamy in Islam

In Islam, monogamy is the general rule while polygamy is only an exception. The Prophet did not favour polygamy except in exceptional circumstances. According to the Muslim Marriage Laws in India, a man can have up to 4 wives, but a woman can only have one husband at a time. In India, the female population is low and polygamy adds to the economic burden of supporting multiple wives and children.

Polygamy in Muslim marriage act under Islam has not been abolished in India but it is also not widely practised and is often provided against by a special clause in the marriage contract by those who find it morally offensive. The groom, as well as the bride-to-be, may stipulate monogamy as a condition in the Nikahnama and, once signed, it requires the parties to not enter into any formal or informal marriage contract with another person.

It is advisable that the bride and groom personally read this form carefully and consider and deliberate upon it well in advance before signing it as this document lists the rights and obligations of both parties, their personal details and expectations, amount of Mahr and how it can be changed, restrictions on either party, consequences in case of disagreements or divorce, etc.

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