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Cairo – The issue of verbal divorce has been hotly debated over the past two months between the political and religious establishments. This sensitive issue has given rise to much speculation on what it might cause between the two state bodies.
Muslims have agreed on the legitimacy of verbal divorce since Prophet Mohamed’s era. According to Sharia, i.e. Islamic Law, Muslim men can terminate marriage verbally as well as finalize the divorce without the wife’s knowledge. This is what ‘verbal divorce’ is all about.
On 24 January, al-Sisi said on the eve of the Police Day that rate of divorce among young people is quite high. During his televised speech, Al-Sisi addressed Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyb, Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, saying: “Can’t we have a law that makes divorce valid only when documented, like marriage?”
The President was proposing that a law should be put in place for more official divorce measures, and that both the husband and wife should be involved in the process by visiting a public notary in order to proceed with the divorce. This might also give them some time to reconsider the decision.
Two weeks later, however, Al-Azhar-affiliated Council of Senior Scholars has ‘unanimously’ ruled that ‘verbal divorce’ has been well established by Islamic scholars through solid legal evidence, and it would not necessarily affect divorce rates as proposed by the president.
Yet the ebb-and-flow debate has not come to a close. In the new edition of Al-Azhar Monthly Magazine, the Council of Senior Scholars issued a report on the validity of the verbal divorce in Islamic Sharia, titled: “Verbal Divorce: The Legal Ruling and Consequences”. The report booklet was given away as a free gift with this month’s edition.
The report contains a detailed response to the 21 misconceptions leveled against their view and rebuttals to the opponent of the verbal divorce. They considered the entire problematic aspects enshrined in the counter-argument as “under the level of being legal grounds for abolishing the [long-entrenched] practice.
The report is broken down into three lengthy essays:
1. The Verbal Divorce by Prof. Dr. /Abbas Shomann, Undersecretary of Al-Azhar.
2. On the Ruling of Divorce from the Perspectives of Azhar, the Court of Cassation and the Supreme Constitutional Court by Dr. Rajai Atiya.
3. Verbal Divorce: Its Legal Ruling and Consequences by Dr. Sobh Hamdi Taha.
Dr. Sobh Hamdi Taha, a member of the Council, said that the Council held several meetings over the past two months. There has been a series of scholarly profound debates among senior Egyptian specialists of different Islamic schools of jurisprudence regarding the issue. The final judgment, he said, was passed with unanimous agreement, as follows: “ Verbal divorce takes effect once uttered by the husband on conditions of the free will and conscious state of mind that make the husband’s legally responsible and liable before Islamic Law.”
However, critics considered the report as yet another attempt by Al-Azhar’s Council to defy President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s call for restrictions on verbal divorce.
We would like to ask our readers to share their thoughts on the matter. Should verbal divorce be overruled? Has the President been right on his call? Has Al-Azhar been right on their stance? Do you trust the final judgement of the Council of Senior Scholars?
Please share with us what do you think on this story by posting your comments below or on our social media pages.