According to Family Laws in Pakistan, it is the husband’s responsibility to maintain his wife in the best possible manner. Wife maintenance is the responsibility of his husband.
During the period of her matrimonial bonds with him, an Islam husband is obligated to maintain his wife. A husband is legally required to provide maintenance to his wife as both a gift and a benefit. Due to the precept of the Holy Quran, the husband is obligated to provide food, clothing, and lodging for a woman who surrenders herself into his custody. In accordance with his tenet, maintenance is a debt due to the husband. A marriage obligation such as maintenance is subject to suspension or forfeiture under certain circumstances.
A husband is required to provide maintenance for his wife under the law of Islam and Pakistan. He is responsible for maintaining his wife until the separation is finalized.
Pakistani maintenance law is primarily governed by Muslim personal law and precedents set by the higher courts. A wife’s maintenance in Pakistan is governed by the Family Courts Act 1964 and the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 (“MFLO”).
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Divorced Muslim women are forbidden from remarrying for three months and for four months and ten days after the death of their husbands.
During this probationary period, it is called ‘Iddat’. Due to the above conditions, she is entitled to a maintenance allowance during this time.
According to Surah Al-Talaq Verses 4 to 6, a pregnant woman who divorces is entitled to maintenance until the delivery of the child. The Surah Al-Talaq consists of 12 verses. The English translation of these verses will be helpful in understanding the spirit of Allah’s command on the subject:
Verse No.236 of Surah Al-Baqrah
“ If you divorce women without touching them or assigning them any portion, it is not sinful for you. The rich should be provided for according to their means, and the poor according to their means, a fair allowance. Those who do good are bound by this duty.”
Verse No.241 of Surah Al-Baqarah
“ Divorced women are also provided with kindness. In the warding off of evil, there is a duty.
Verse No.49 of Surah Al-Ahzab
“ Believers! When you marry and divorce believing women before you have touched them, there is no period you should reckon. They must be contented and released handsomely.”
Divorced wives have been instructed by their husbands to give them ‘Mata’ in the following three verses.
A husband is directed to provide ‘Nafaqah‘ to a pregnant divorced wife in verse 6 of Surah Al-Talaq. Various English translators and interpreters of the Holy Qur’an translate the Arabic words ‘Nafaqah’ and ‘Mata’ as ‘maintenance’ and ‘provision’, respectively.
Several Arabic scholars have complained that the English translations are poor, expressing their dissatisfaction. It is difficult to translate words of one language into another and find their equivalents in another language because of the nuances of their meaning.
So It is for this reason that many English translators have titled their translations as interpretations rather than translations because the Holy Qur’an cannot be translated. Mata means ‘temporary benefit’ or ‘gain’ in various Arabic lexicons. It gives the meaning of the word ‘Mata’ as ‘Munafah or profits or gains’ according to the Qamus-al-Quran al Wajuh An-Nazair published in Beirut. It was Imam Raghib Asgahani who defined the term ‘Mata’ as ‘something that can benefit a divorced woman in the Mufradat lexicon. Nafaqah is defined as living expenses in the text.
According to the Egyptian lexicon Tartibul Qamus, ‘Mata’ refers to women’s maintenance. ‘Nafaqah’ is a term used to describe the expenses associated with living, while ‘Mata’ refers to items that have an effect or a good. ‘Mata’ is considered to cover only temporary benefits given at parting or as a consolation gift by Imam Razi in Tafsir Kabir. Lisan ul Arab’s author stated that ‘Mata’ is not similar to maintaining a residence over a period of time, but is a unique gift.
In Surah Al-Baqrah verse No.236 the Arabic words (Wa Matee o Hunna) and (Mata Um Bil Maroof) mean ‘provide for them and ‘make a fair provision for them.
It is translated as ‘provision of kindness’ in verse 241 of Surah Al-Baqrah, using the Arabic word mata um bil maroof.
In verse 49 of Surah Al-Ahzab, the Arabic words (fa matte o hunna wa saree hohunna sarahan jamila) mean to ‘content them and release them handsomely.
In verse No.6 of Surah Al-Talaq, the Arabic words (wa in kunna aolati Hamlin fa unfiqo alihina hattaa yazana hamlahun) mean, ‘and if they are with child, then spend for them until they bear their burden.
It is said that (leyunfic) and (fal-unfic) represent spending in verse 7 of Surah Al-Talaq.
Several Arabic words are used in the verses noted above. (Fa amati o Hunna) means “to provide” and (Fa anfiqo) means “to spend”. Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall endeavored to translate the Holy Qur’an in his Translation of the Holy Qur’an (above quoted English translations).
In Surah Al-Baqrah No. 241 qualifies the word (bil maroof) which means ‘well known’ or ‘customary’ in the Arabic language.
In Surah Al-Baqra verse 241, Abdullah Yusuf Ali translated the Arabic text as: “For divorced women, maintenance should be paid on a reasonable scale” (Walil Mutallaqaat-e-Mataum bil Maroof). According to verse 241 of the Quran, the above said command is for those who fear Allah. It is reported in various Ahadiths that Hazrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said that ‘Mata‘ should be given even by those in straightened circumstances. It can consist of a few kilograms of dates, clothes, or grain if there is nothing better available.
Almighty Allah’s commands in the Holy Qur’an and as practiced by the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him) express a complete code of conduct that allows us to live our lives according to Islamic teachings both individually and collectively. A Muslim husband is obliged to maintain his divorced wife during the period of ‘Iddat’ as per Islam’s injunctions, based on the words (fa mate o hunna) “to provide” and (fa anfiqo) “to spend” in the above referred verses of the Holy Qur’an.
A Payment may be made at once or in affordable installments during the period of ‘Iddat’. Obviously, the intention of the above commands is to provide maintenance to a divorced woman during her period of ‘Iddat’, since a divorced woman is not permitted to remarry during that period.
It is clear that, in light of the above Commandments of Allah, a divorced wife is entitled to maintenance, and a husband is required to support her during the period when she is going through the process of ‘Iddat’.