There is no unanimous consensus among Islamic scholars regarding the duration of maintenance (nafaqah) that a divorcing husband should provide to his ex-wife. The issue is subject to interpretation and varies among different schools of Islamic law.
According to the Hanafi school of thought, the divorced wife is entitled to maintenance during the iddah period (a waiting period after divorce) and for three menstrual cycles thereafter. However, after this period, she is not entitled to any maintenance, and if she remarries, the husband’s obligation to provide maintenance ceases.
On the other hand, the Maliki and Shafi’i schools of thought hold that the divorced wife is entitled to maintenance until she remarries, while the Hanbali school of thought stipulates that the wife is entitled to maintenance until the end of her life or remarriage.
Therefore, it cannot be said that Islamic law imposes a universal obligation on a divorcing husband to pay maintenance to his ex-wife for the rest of her life. The duration of maintenance is subject to interpretation, and different schools of thought have differing opinions.
Moreover, the idea that maintenance for an ex-wife is an unfair burden on the husband and incompatible with modern values is not valid. The obligation to provide maintenance to a wife is based on the Quranic injunctions that recognize the husband’s duty to support his wife financially. This obligation is aimed at ensuring the financial security and welfare of the wife, especially in the case of divorce, where she may be left vulnerable and without a means of support.
In conclusion, the duration of maintenance for an ex-wife in Islamic law varies among different schools of thought and is subject to interpretation. However, the obligation to provide maintenance is not incompatible with modern values and is aimed at ensuring the financial security and welfare of the wife, which is a fundamental principle of Islamic law.