If a husband and wife have a mutual divorce

Q37. I am a dentist by profession, my questions are:
a. Is there an ‘Iddah period to be observed by the divorced wife?
b. Should the divorced husband give the maintenance money for her?
c. Can the divorced husband have sex with the divorced wife?
d. Can the two talk on the phone to each other after the divorce?
                                       -Syeda Tabassum moredent3@yahoo.co.in

(a) If the husband and wife have mutual divorce, then the divorced woman needs to observe an ‘Iddah (period) of three menstrual cycles if she gets menses on regular basis, OR an ‘Iddah (period) of three months in case she gets menses on irregular basis or has passed her Menopause. Allah says in the Qur'an:

“Divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly periods nor is it lawful for them to hide what Allah hath created in their wombs if they have faith in Allah and the Last Day…”
(Al-Qur'an, 2:228)

In the verse quoted above Allah also says that if the woman is pregnant, she should not hide but rather disclose her pregnancy. Moreover, if she is pregnant, the ‘Iddah extends till the child is born, as stated by Allah in the following verse.

“…For those who carry (life within their wombs) their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy.” (Al-Qur'an 65:4)

However, in case the divorce is revocable, the husband and wife may undergo reconciliation during the period of ‘Iddah thus making the divorce null and void with mutual consensus.

(b) With regards to the maintenance money, in case of revocable divorce, where the husband and wife are likely to get reconciled during the ‘Iddah period, the husband will have to provide lodging and maintenance to the wife during that period. If the woman is pregnant, the husband will have to provide maintenance till the child is born as the ‘Iddah extends till its birth. Moreover, the obligation of providing the maintenance will continue till the wife breast-feeds the child for two years, the period of suckling, as appointed by Allah. Nevertheless the couple has the right to determine the period of suckling by mutual consent and consideration (Al-Qur'an 2:233). Says Allah in the Qur'an:

“Let the women live (in 'Iddah) in the same style as you live according to your means: annoy them not so as to restrict them. And if they carry (life in their wombs) then spend (your substance) on them until they deliver their burden: and if they suckle your (offspring) give them their recompense: and take mutual counsel together according to what is just and reasonable. And if ye find yourselves in difficulties let another woman suckle (the child) on the (father's) behalf.” (Al-Qur'an 65:6)

However, in case of irrevocable divorce, there is difference of opinion amongst the scholars with regards to the provision of lodging and maintenance. However the view that is held by majority of the scholars is that there shall be no lodging or maintenance for the woman during her ‘Iddah unless she is breast-feeding a child or is discovered to be pregnant.

Fatima bint Qais (Allah be pleased with her) reported from Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) that there is no lodging and maintenance allowance for a woman who has been given irrevocable divorce.
(Sahih Muslim vol. 2, hadith no. 3522)

(c) If the divorce is revocable and the husband and wife, with mutual consensus agree to have sex before the ‘Iddah is complete, then that would become means through which the divorce becomes null and void. Then they again continue to live as husband and wife and thus they can also have sex as before.

If the divorce is revocable (1st or 2nd) and the ‘Iddah period has been completed, then after this period of ‘Iddah they cannot have sex unless they have a new nikaah with new ‘Meher’. After ‘Iddah has been completed, or after irrevocable divorce, the ex-husband & wife become Na-Mahrams and if they have sex without a fresh nikaah then their act of having sex will be considered adultery.

(d) Talking on the phone with the opposite sex, who is a Na-Mahram is not encouraged in Islam. In certain cases when unavoidable and if both maintain their modesty, it may be permissible. Thus till such time as the husband and wife reconcile during ‘Iddah, and at any time after divorce, they should avoid talking. In unavoidable circumstances if they do, they should maintain their modesty without which it will be prohibited. And Allah knows the best.