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This includes feeding, clothing and shelter for the wife and for any children of the marriage. This is a legally enforceable duty which remains even after divorce until tl1e expiry of the iddah or even longer in the view of some scholars. Financial responsibility for the family therefore rests squarely on the husband, and the wife has no duty to contribute to family expenses unless she has the means and the wish to do so.
The legal obligations of a husband do not stop with provision of the basic requirements of maintenance and protection. He is also excepected to give her company and marital relations, and to avoid doing anything that would harm her.
These obligations are enforced by the Shari'ah. If a man fails to maintain his wife or fails to visit her for more than a certain period of time, the wife has grounds to be granted a divorce by a Shari'ah court. Similarly, if she can prove to the court that the husband is doing her harm (idrar), be it by drinking alcohol, or beating her without lawful cause, or abusing her or her parents and so on, she is entitled to be granted a divorce. In none of these cases can the husband claim back any part of the dowry or presents he has given to the wife.
The husband is however urged in the Qur'an to avoid divorce and try to preserve marriage even if it is not ideal. This is to be done in the first instance by exercising patience with his wife's faults, The Qur'an says:
"Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity, lf you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah (SWT) brings about it a great deal of good",
The Prophet (SM) (peace be upon him) also emphasised the
undesirability of divorce in a Hadith found in Abu Dau'd's collection:
"The most hateful of all lawful things, in the sight of Allah, is divorce. "
The ideal husband should therefore, if need arises, make full use of Qur'anic provisions for reconciliation and arbitration, (Qur'an 4:34) before proceeding with divorce. It is to be noted that the Prophet (SM) - the ideal husband - never divorced any of his wives.
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