Could the wife be deemed divorced after a husband's long period of absence?

Q: We are Egyptians working in Iraq. We have traveled here to earn our living by lawful means. We seek to have our children brought up according to the teachings of Islam and to meet all their needs of food, clothing, and housing. We entrust them to the care of their mothers who give them financial support from the money we send them.However, we feel sorry for staying away from our wives for a period of time that may reach two or more years.1. Is it Halal (lawful) or Haram (prohibited) to stay away from one's wife for this long period of time?2. For how long is the husband permitted to stay away from his wife according to Shari`ah (Islamic law)? (Part No. 19; Page No. 341) 3. Will the wife be considered divorced if the husband stays away from her for a long period? Is a new marriage contract required upon his return? What is the ruling of Islam on the husband's absence for a long period of time?4. What is the maximum period a husband is allowed to stay away from his wife, even after asking her consent?

A: First, there is no blame on the husband if the wife agrees to his being away from her for such a period of time. If she is not content with that, it is Haram to desert her for that period. Second, the period of time a husband is allowed to be away from his wife is four months, which is the same period prescribed for Ila' (husband's oath not to have intercourse with his wife for four months or more). It is Haram for the husband to stay away from his wife for more than this period of time without her consent. Third, the wife will not be considered divorced during that period and no new marriage contract is required upon the husband's return. Fourth, if the wife agrees to the husband's travel and absence, there is no maximum limit for this period; if not, he is allowed to stay away from her for only four months. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.