Q. I read an answer you gave to a sister on issues concerning mehr and alimony, and you came to a conclusion that if "they" chose to live in a western society, then the payment of alimony is fine. Your answer was comforting to the sister, but was it correct? What if it were the man (husband) who had no "choice" and the woman (wife) made the choice to move to the western world. The man wanted the divorce and did not request the "mehr" because he knew it was haram to do so. Is the woman justified, as opposed to negotiating with the husband, to use the legal system to extract as much alimony as she can? There are many other laws and allowances in the western world. For example, usury is common and permissible by law. We have a choice to either partake in the usury or not, but does it make it halal to engage in usury since western law allows it? I do not see your logic as it pertains to your answer to the sister on alimony. Please clear up this issue.

A. You do have a good point. The nature of law is as such that the party that sues will use whatever the law is to its advantage, and since the law generally takes into consideration assisting the party that seems to be the one being wronged, then it obviously will affect the other one negatively. I see this too as the goal of Islamic law. Every case has its peculiarities, and that is where the judge comes in. I do not, for what it is worth, see all additions to the principal as "usury," but this is a peripheral issue to the question you asked (see Riba for more information). You do not have to concur with my logic, for I am using the maqasid al shari'a in my answers, and it does not have to appeal to everyone. Also for me, the issue is not "eastern" or "western" world, but what is correct and just. For too long, women have been getting the short end of the stick in the normative interpretations of Fiqh. And if a Muslim man feels that staying in some parts of the "Muslim" world will allow divorce laws to work in his favor, then that only underlines my point. May God guide us to that which is right.

Posted June 14, 2014