While divorce is hard on every family member, constructive Islamic life has to continue. The divorced spouses will face new emotional and financial hardships. They will also have new responsibilities. Many will find themselves in charge of a single-parent family with limited funds. They will not be able to maintain the same lifestyle. As time passes, loneliness may begin to set in. Avoid living in the past, dwelling on it isn’t beneficial. Be wise, not desperate. It is never too late to get started again. You have to plan ahead. In many cases, divorce leaves middle-aged women who have spent the last 20 years as housewives struggling to find employment that allows them to provide for their families. The ex-husband shouldn’t neglect his responsibility to be an active partner in raising his children, providing them with both emotional and financial support.

I want to tell you a true story I heard from one of my elementary school teachers. The story happened in the 1930’s. A teacher making seven dinars a month married a young woman from a rich family. After a while, problems led to divorce. The judge (Kadi) asked the man to pay 30% of his salary as (nafaqa) to his wife as well as in support of their one child. The man told the judge that his ex-wife deserves more because she is used to a higher standard of living than him. He insisted that he will be happy to give her and his child a total of 70%. The father of the woman asked the judge to speak to his daughter outside the court room. Upon his return, he asked the ex-husband to take his daughter back (raja’a), as his act of kindness encouraged her to reconsider the divorce. The ex-husband accepted. The judge asked the father why he did that. He said, “I want a gentleman as my son-in-law, not a bank account.”

Here are some tips to help you (men and women) cope with divorce: (1) Get closer to Allah (subhanahu wata’ala) and always call on Him (duaa), and spend more time in the masjid; (2) If you find yourself out of your home, consider moving in with your parents to reduce expenses while you get your finances in order; (3) Get more education or job training to help you get a better paying job; (4) If you want to start a business do your istikhara and study it first and develop a business plan. Evaluate potential partners very carefully and ask for references. Protect your rights legally, not merely by promises; (5) If an opportunity to remarry presents itself, consider it carefully but don’t rush into it. The divorce rate among second marriages is higher than among first marriages. Don’t fall for rosy promises that are difficult to fulfill. Do your istikhara and consult trusted elders who you know care about you. Protect your assets by legally binding pre-nuptial agreements. State your conditions in the Islamic marriage certificate making sure to include the rights of the children from the previous marriage.

By Dr. Bassam Jody