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“Islamic and American Divorces” Bibliography

Jeremy Ernst

English 250

Islamic and American Divorces

                There are many differences between Islamic and American cultures, but one that many people know very little about is divorce. This paper will inform the reader about these differences in divorce and some of the reasons why these differences occur. In a time where divorce rates in the United States are soaring, I feel that it is important to bring this topic into the light. Also just to clarify I will be discussing divorce from a Christian point of view for the United States perspective. I do not wish to discriminate against other popular religions in the U.S.; I just want to keep this paper to a manageable size. I have compiled research from a few select online sources and will also providing my own personal experiences with divorce. I will first touch on how divorce is viewed in the Islamic culture. There are some controversial issues within the Islamic culture so I will discuss those also. Then I will shift to the American perspective on divorce and cover some of the common issues. 

                We will first view divorce in Islamic culture from a religious perspective. The Qur’an, the Islamic religious text, allows divorce but, provides many guidelines for when divorce is permitted. Thus, divorce is not viewed as sinful (domini.org). From a social point of view, divorce can be a devastating situation for the divorced couple. I will later go into reasons for divorce and their social consequences for the divorcees.

                The Qur’an provides a set of rules for the husband when choosing to divorce his wife, and separate situations when the wife can divorce her husband. As a reader it is important to understand that men and women are not viewed as equals in Islamic cultures. The Qur’an does not require any certain grounds for a husband divorcing his wife (domini.org).  If a husband does decide to divorce his wife there must be three periods or iddahs before the divorce can become final. During these periods, each lasts one month, the couple must continue to live together as normal. This waiting period is to see if the couple can resolve their issues or if the wife is pregnant. The husband is required to provide financial stability for the wife during this period. The only exception to this rule is if the wife commits a public scandal during this period, and in which the husband can send her away from the household. If at the end of the three Iddahs the couple cannot resolve their problems and the wife is not pregnant, the divorce can then become final. Many of these guidelines seem strange to most but, it is important for people from the U.S., including myself, to be informed of these differences.

                The U.S. is a very diverse country and being so it would be nearly impossible to cover all the different opinions on divorce. As far as the religious view on divorce we will be coming from a Christian point of view. I felt that this would be a suitable comparison to the Islamic point of view.

                The Christian Bible states that divorce is allowed but only under grave circumstances (web-church.com). Jesus, the Christian savior, believed that divorce should only be allowed if marital unfaithfulness (cheating) had been committed. Paul, one of the Christian apostles, later stated that divorce could be approved if you were a Christian married to a non-Christian.

                Even with these rules it is very common that you or someone you know will be or has been divorced. According to the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology 50% of first marriages will end up in divorce, while the rate increases to 67% for second divorces and even to 74% for third marriages (divorcerate.org).

                As we can see from the data, these are staggering rates. The U.S. has some of the highest rates in the world. Divorcerate.org also reported that the highest percentages of divorce were for people whom were married between the ages 20-24, while the second highest rate was for ages under 20.
                We can collect from these statistics that people in the U.S. are getting married too young and people who get divorced once are highly likely to divorce again. I believe that this is in part due to the lack of seriousness in relationships nowadays. In a culture where there are so many choices as there are in the U.S. people do not need a “better half” to succeed in life like they once did. I also believe that since people are getting married at such young ages there are not using dating as the relationship practice tool that it can be. There is much to be learned about people through dating, and I believe that it is one of the greatest tools that Americans have.

                Islamic and U.S. cultures are vastly different in many ways, but one similarity that they share is their soaring divorce rates. It is my opinion that the rising divorce rates in Islamic cultures are caused by western influences, and Islamic old world ways that divorce and relationships are viewed there. Dating is not allowed in Islam, and is a direct cause to unhappiness in relationships which leads to divorce. Also, the western influence is causing many Islamic followers to change their ways for a more “choice” based lifestyle. Rising divorce rates in the U.S. can be accredited to many reasons.  I previously stated some of the more common ones earlier, either way rates are rising everywhere.

                There are many differences in divorce across different cultures and it is important to be educated about these differences. Through statistics and first hand experiences, I have informed you about several of the primary differences between Islamic and U.S. divorces. I have also provided supported opinions on why divorce rates are so high in these two cultures. Hopefully between my opinions and statistics you have learned a little about divorce through this paper.