CAIRO: A member of the People’s Assembly (PA) filed a request to annul the law that permits khol’, or a women’s right to divorce.
Nine years after its introduction, the law is once again the subject of debate with Independent MP Mohamed Al-Omdah arguing that it contradicts with Islamic teachings.
On Thursday, Al-Omdah asked the PA, to change Article 20 of the personal status law that allows women to divorce their husbands, provided that they pay back their dowries (mahr) and other presents.
The law has become an alternative to traditionally lengthy court battles, in which women ask for divorce but do not forfeit their financial rights.
According to Omdah, khol’ contradicts with the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence or mazaheb.
This allegation is refuted by Hafez Abou Saeda, member of the National Council of Human Rights, chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) and one of the main activists involved in introducing the khol’ law in 2000.
“The khol’ law was studied and investigated by religious and legislative experts before it was approved, Abou Seada said.
The process of drafting and introducing the legislation, he continued, was spearheaded by the former president of the constitutional court Fathy Naguib, who was also deputy of the Minister of Justice at the time and has a lot of experience in laws, legislations and Sharia.
“As for the Islamic point of view on khol’, evidence was found in a story that took place during the time of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH): A woman asked him what to do since she does not love her husband, and the Prophet told her to divorce him and pay back the mahr, Abou Saeda added.
Sheikh Ibrahim Nagm, media consultant at Dar Al-Ifta, the Egyptian official body for issuing fatwas, told Daily News Egypt that there are many fatwas pertaining khol’. However, he didn’t have access to them at the time of the interview.
Former Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Al-Sayed Abdel Maksoud Askar, agrees with and supports the MP’s request, telling Daily News Egypt that khol’ is against Islam.
“I conducted research during the time when the PA was discussing the law in 1999 that proved this, but nobody bothered to take my results into consideration, Askar added.
“Khol’. deprives women of their rights because it obliges them to give up their rights in order to get a divorce, Askar said.
According to Askar, who is also a PA member on the religious committee, the “regular divorce in Islam gives Muslim women more rights.
“In Islam there are two types of divorce. Women can ask for divorce because they are emotionally, psychological or physically harmed and if the court can prove that, women can get divorced and get all their legal and financial rights, Askar said.
“The second type is when a woman asks for a divorce because she does not want to live with her husband. The court can approve that divorce but, in turn, asks women to forfeit their rights, Askar added.
“However in khol’, it is more of a deal between a married couple, where the wife forces the husband to divorce her in return for his dowry and that is against the Sharia, Askar said.