Muslim women’s right to divorce (2022)

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

Muslim women have the right to divorce their husbands if the marriage has proven incompatible or the husband is guilty of serious misconduct. Islam provides women with this legal recourse to end a broken marriage or to escape an abusive partner.

There are two avenues for a Muslim women to divorce her husband: 1) Mutual-agreement upon her request (al-khula’), and 2) divorce imposed by a judge (tallaq al-qadi). The first method is preferred as it facilitates an amicable separation, which is especially important if there are children involved. The second method, on the other hand, is a rather blunt instrument that should only be used when a husband egregiously violates the terms of the marriage contract.

As for mutual divorce, a woman may request such a divorce from her husband if she finds herself incompatible with him. She must repay the dowry (al-mahr) that she was given at the beginning of the marriage.

Allah said:

فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا فِيمَا افْتَدَتْ بِهِ ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا

If you both fear you will not uphold the limits of Allah, there is no blame upon either of you in regards to what she repays him. These are the limits of Allah, so do not transgress them.

Surat al-Baqarah 2:229

Al-Nawawi writes:

إذا كرهت المرأة زوجها لقبح منظر أو سوء عشرة وخافت أن لا تؤدى حقه جاز أن تخالعه على عوض

If the wife dislikes her husband because of his ugly appearance, or bad companionship, and she fears she will not fulfill his rights, it is permissible to request a divorce from him on condition of compensation (‘iwad).

Source: al-Majmū’ Sharḥ al-Muhadhab 3/17

And Ibn Qudamah writes:

وَجُمْلَةُ الْأَمْرِ أَنَّ الْمَرْأَةَ إذَا كَرِهَتْ زَوْجَهَا لِخَلْقِهِ أَوْ خُلُقِهِ أَوْ دِينِهِ أَوْ كِبَرِهِ أَوْ ضَعْفِهِ أَوْ نَحْوِ ذَلِكَ وَخَشِيَتْ أَنْ لَا تُؤَدِّيَ حَقَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى فِي طَاعَتِهِ جَازَ لَهَا أَنْ تُخَالِعَهُ بِعِوَضٍ تَفْتَدِي بِهِ نَفْسَهَا مِنْهُ

The summary of the matter is that the wife, if she dislikes her husband because of his appearance, his character, his religion, his old age, or his weakness and so on, and she is afraid she will not fulfill the right of Allah Almighty in obedience to him, it is permissible for her to request a divorce from him with compensation by which she frees herself of him.

Source: al-Mughnī 7/323

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The first woman to request a divorce in the time of the Prophet (ṣ) was Habibah bint Sahl, who was married to Thabit ibn Qays. Habibah and Thabit did not get along, so the Prophet (ṣ) divorced them and Habibah repaid the dowry to Thabit.

Yahya ibn Sa’id reported: Habibah bint Sahl was married to Thabit ibn Qays and Thabit had struck her. When she woke up, she went to the door of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, while it was not yet daylight. She said, “Thabit and I cannot be together.” Thabit came and the Prophet (s) said to him:

خُذْ مِنْهَا وَخَلِّ سَبِيلَهَا

Take what she owes you and let her go her way.

Source: Sunan al-Dārimī 2317, Grade:Sahih

In this case, Thabit had hit her during an argument and this was considered legitimate grounds for Habibah to request an annulment from the Prophet (ṣ). She returned the dowry, effectively dissolving the marriage contract.

It is not permissible for a husband who wishes to divorce his wife to impose hardship upon her in order to compel such compensation. Islam does not allow such a loophole for men to take advantage of their wives.

Allah said:

وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ

Do not make difficulties for them in order to take back what you have given them, unless they behave in a clearly immoral manner. Live with them honorably.

Surat al-Nisa’ 4:19

Al-Nawawi comments on this verse, writing:

وإن ضربها أو منعها حقها طمعا في أن تخالعه على شئ من مالها لم يجز … فإن طلقها في هذه الحال على عوض لم يستحق العوض

If he hits her or obstructs her rights in anticipation of her request to divorce on condition of repaying something from her property, it is not permissible… If he divorces her in this manner on condition of compensation, he does not deserve compensation.

Source: al-Majmū’ Sharḥ al-Muhadhab 3/17

If the husband is guilty of serious misconduct, such as neglect, abandonment, adultery, or domestic violence, the wife has the right to bring her complaint to a judge and have the divorce imposed upon him. These transgressions are violations of the marriage contract, which necessitates that the marriage is ended.

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One of the most significant misdeeds necessitating a judge-imposed divorce is the failure of a husband to adequately provide for his wife. This is a type of neglect or abandonment.

Ibn Qudamah writes:

وَكُلُّ مَوْضِعٍ ثَبَتَ لَهَا الْفَسْخُ لِأَجْلِ النَّفَقَةِ لَمْ يَجُزْ إلَّا بِحُكْمِ الْحَاكِمِ لِأَنَّهُ فَسْخٌ مُخْتَلَفٌ فِيهِ فَافْتَقَرَ إلَى الْحَاكِمِ كَالْفَسْخِ بِالْعُنَّةِ وَلَا يَجُوزُ لَهُ التَّفْرِيقُ إلَّا أَنْ تَطْلُبَ الْمَرْأَةُ ذَلِكَ لِأَنَّهُ لِحَقِّهَا فَلَمْ يَجُزْ مِنْ غَيْرِ طَلَبِهَا كَالْفَسْخِ لِلْعُنَّةِ فَإِذَا فَرَّقَ الْحَاكِمُ بَيْنَهُمَا فَهُوَ فَسْخٌ لَا رَجْعَةَ لَهُ فِيهِ وَبِهَذَا قَالَ الشَّافِعِيُّ وَابْنُ الْمُنْذِرِ

Every case that results in an annulment for her due to issues of spending are only permissible by the ruling of a judge, as a disagreement in regards to an annulment is in need of a judge, similar to an annulment due to impotence. It is not permissible for him to separate them unless that is requested by the wife, as it is her right. It is not permissible without her request, similar to an annulment due to impotence. When the judge separates them, it is an annulment without the possibility of remarriage. This was said by Al-Shafi’i and Ibn al-Mundhir.

Source: al-Mughnī 8/206

Another case discussed by the jurists is the failure of the husband to meet the sexual needs of his wife by swearing an oath never to be intimate with her again (al-‘ila’a). Again, this is a type of neglect or abandonment.

Ibn Qudamah writes:

وَالطَّلَاقُ الْوَاجِبُ عَلَى الْمُولِي رَجْعِيٌّ سَوَاءٌ أَوْقَعَهُ بِنَفْسِهِ أَوْ طَلَّقَ الْحَاكِمُ عَلَيْهِ وَبِهَذَا قَالَ الشَّافِعِيُّ

Divorce, with the possibility of remarriage, is an obligation upon a husband who swears an oath never to be intimate with his wife, whether he initiates it himself or it is imposed upon him by a judge. This was said by Al-Shafi’i.

Source: al-Mughnī 7/563

The Prophet (ṣ) also would intervene on behalf of women who were being abused by their husbands.

Ali ibn Abi Talib reported: The wife of Al-Walid ibn ‘Uqbah came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and she complained to him saying, “O Messenger of Allah! Al-Walid has beaten me!” The Prophet (ṣ) said:

قُولِي لَهُ قَدْ أَجَارَنِي

Say to him: He has protected me.

She did not stay but for a while until she returned and she said, “He did not give me anything but more beatings!” The Prophet (ṣ) tore a piece of cloth from his shirt and he said:

قُولِي لَهُ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَدْ أَجَارَنِي

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Say to him: Verily, the Messenger of Allah has given me his protection.

She did not stay but for a while until she returned and she said, “He did not give me anything but more beatings!” The Prophet (ṣ) raised his hands and he said:

اللَّهُمَّ عَلَيْكَ الْوَلِيدَ أَثِمَ بِي مَرَّتَيْنِ

O Allah, you must deal with Al-Walid, for he has sinned against me twice.

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 1257, Grade:Sahih

As such, it is the right of a Muslim woman to seek divorce from a judge whenever she is the victim of abuse by her husband, whether that is physical, verbal, or emotional abuse.

Al-Dardir writes:

للزوجة التطليق على الزوج بالضرر وهو ما لا يجوز شرعا كهجرها بلا موجب شرعي وضربها كذلك وسبها وسب أبيها

The wife may have a separation from her husband due to harm caused that is not legally permissible, such as abandoning her without a legal necessity, or striking her likewise, or cursing her or her parents.

Source: al-Sharḥ al-Kabīr 2/345

And Al-Sayyid Sabiq writes:

ذهب الإمام مالك أن للزوجة أن تطلب من القاضي التفريق إذا ادعت إضرار الزوج بها إضرارا لا يستطاع معه دوام العشرة بين أمثالهما مثل ضربها أو سبها أو إيذائها بأي نوع من أنواع الايذاء الذي لا يطاق أو إكراهها على منكر من القول أو الفعل

Imam Malik adhered to the opinion that the wife has a right to seek separation by decree of the judge if she claims that the husband has greatly harmed her such that it is not possible for them to continue in marital association. For example, he hits her, abuses her, or harms her in an intolerable way, or he forces her to commit evil in word or deed.

Source:Fiqh al-Sunnah2/289

All of this demonstrates that a Muslim woman is not locked into a harmful marriage. She has the right to seek divorce from the judge when her marital rights are violated, although it is best for them to arrange a divorce on mutual grounds before involving coercive authorities.

That said, divorce itself is still harmful to families and children. It is one of the worst of all lawful deeds due to its negative impact, but it is nevertheless allowed when it becomes the lesser of two evils.

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Abdullah ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَبْغَضُ الْحَلَالِ إِلَى اللَّهِ الطَّلَاقُ

The most hateful of lawful matters to Allah is divorce.

Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 2172, Grade:Sahih

A wife who is considering a divorce must sincerely evaluate the reasons for such a separation, because the Prophet (ṣ) warned Muslim women of serious consequences in the Hereafter for initiating a frivolous divorce.

Thawban reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَيُّمَا امْرَأَةٍ سَأَلَتْ زَوْجَهَا طَلَاقًا فِي غَيْرِ مَا بَأْسٍ فَحَرَامٌ عَلَيْهَا رَائِحَةُ الْجَنَّةِ

Whenever a woman asks her husband for a divorce without a strong reason, the fragrance of Paradise becomes forbidden for her.

Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 2226, Grade:Sahih

Moreover, a couple who are having marital issues should try to make good faith efforts to resolve their differences, especially for the sake of their children, as Allah said:

وَالصُّلْحُ خَيْرٌ

Reconciliation is better.

Surat al-Nisa’ 4:128

In sum, Muslim women may obtain a divorce by mutual agreement with the husband or by imposition of a judge. A wife has no obligation to stay with a man who abuses, abandons, or neglects her, or otherwise violates her rights that are enshrined within the marriage contract. It is better for a husband and wife to reconcile their differences or divorce amicably before involving coercive authorities.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

FAQs

Can Muslim woman divorce her husband? ›

Both Muslim men and women are allowed to divorce in the Islamic tradition. But community interpretations of Islamic laws mean that men are able to divorce their wives unilaterally, while women must secure their husband's consent.

Is it haram for a wife to divorce? ›

Divorce is not something that is forbidden in Islam. Under the Quran, a husband can leave his wife for up to four months in a trial separation. Once that four-month period has elapsed, the husband and wife are to reunite to continue their marriage or obtain a divorce.

What are the grounds for divorce in Islam? ›

According to sharia law, there are two reasons a wife may he granted divorce: When she can prove that the husband did not have intercourse with her or more than three months or if the husband does not provide her with what she needs for living such as food and shelter.

What Islam says about divorce? ›

Although it is not encouraged, most Muslims agree that divorce is permitted if a marriage has broken down, and generally Muslims are permitted to re-marry if they so wish. However, there are differences between Muslims about the procedures for divorce and remarriage: Sunni Muslims do not require witnesses.

What the Quran says about divorce? ›

[2:226 - 227] Those who intend to divorce their wives shall wait four months (cooling off); if they change their minds and reconcile, then God is Forgiver, Merciful. If they go through with the divorce, then God is Hearer, Knower.

What are the 3 types of talaq? ›

Talaq is also of three kinds - 'Talaq-e-ahsan', 'Talaq-e-hasan' and 'Talaq-e-biddat'. The Quran and 'hadith' i.e. sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, approve of 'talaq-e-ahsan', and 'talaqe-hasan' as they are considered most reasonable form of divorce.

How do you end a marriage in Islam? ›

In Islam, there is a three-month waiting period before the divorce is finalised.
  1. The husband's divorce pronouncement can be verbal or written, but it must be done once. ...
  2. If, however, the wife initiates the divorce, she can either return her dowry to end the marriage, or petition a judge for divorce.

Can a woman return to her husband after khula? ›

Answers (3) You can do second marriage after completing the procedure as filed under Khula nama. as per Muslim personal law you also have to follow the Iddat time period and after that you can go for second marriage.

What is difference between khula and talaq? ›

Difference between Khula and Talaq

A divorce by talaq is not complete and irrevocable by a single declaration of the husband: but a divorce by khula is at once complete and irrevocable from the moment when the husband repudiates the wife and the separation takes place.

Can a pregnant woman be divorced in Islam? ›

According to Islamic laws, a pregnant woman can get a divorce. However, she will not be fully divorced until the child is delivered as the baby was conceived during a legal marriage. In this situation, until the baby is born the mother cannot re-marry until 180 days after the child is born.

Is khula halal in Islam? ›

Sunni scholars agree to the facts, but deem it halal ("lawful") anyway. Khula (Arabic:خلع) is the right of a woman in Islam to divorce and it means separation from her husband. After divorce, the husband is responsible for the education and maintenance of the children.

What is forbidden in Islam marriage? ›

Prohibited marriage partners

Marriage between a woman and her father, stepfather, husband's biological father, uncle, grandfather, great uncle, great-grandfather, etc. Marriage of a man with women who are sisters or stepsisters of his mother or father.

What Allah says about wife? ›

The Qur'an recommends that wives be obedient and adaptable to their husbands. Wives should also keep the secrets of their husbands and protect their honor and integrity.

Can you remarry your wife after divorce in Islam? ›

However, when the husband repudiates the wife for the third time, the divorce becomes “absolute.” In this case, not only is the divorce irrevocable, but the spouses cannot remarry until the wife has married another man, and that marriage has been consummated, then ended through death or divorce.

What is the punishment for zina after marriage? ›

The main category of such crimes is zina, defined as any act of illicit sexual intercourse between a man and woman. The punishment for zina is the same for men and women: 100 lashes for the unmarried and death by stoning for the married; however, instances of these punishments are rarely documented in history.

How do I give my wife talaq? ›

Procedure To Give Talaq

No numbers is to be added to the divorce. A person can say, 'I divorce you' or simply 'talaq'. Divorce is to be given in presence of two just witnesses. After the divorce, the women has to pass her term of Iddat.

How do I apply for divorce in Islam? ›

A husband may divorce his wife by repudiating the marriage without giving any reason. Pronouncement of such words which signify his intention to disown the wife is sufficient. Generally this done by talaaq. But he may also divorce by Ila, and Zihar which differ from talaaq only in form, not in substance.

How many times do you have to say talaq? ›

In Talaq-e-Hassan, the word 'talaq' is to be uttered thrice, once after each monthly menstrual cycle of the wife. The husband is free to revoke his first two utterances, but with the third declaration, the Talaq becomes effective and the marriage is dissolved.

How can I divorce my husband in Islam? ›

Divorce or ending the marriage contract is allowed in Islam. In Islamic law, the word talaq is used for divorce and it means to set free (raza). According to the Quran both the husband and the wife have the right to initiate a divorce.

Can a woman divorce her husband in Pakistan? ›

The Law of Pakistan entitles a woman to exercise right of divorce as oppose to file for Khula before the Family courts of Law but as a common practice, the marriage contract is prepared in advance, in manner to defeat the purpose of the legislation.

How do you take talaq in Islam? ›

It must be pronounced orally in the presence of two witnesses, unless he is unable to speak. Further, Talaq pronounced under coercion is void. It must be spoken in Arabic terms and strictly in accordance to sunnah. The husband pronouncing divorce must be of sound mind.

Can I remarry my wife after divorce in Islam? ›

If your wife dies or you have divorced her (validly) you can immediately remarry another woman.

What are the 3 types of talaq? ›

Talaq is also of three kinds - 'Talaq-e-ahsan', 'Talaq-e-hasan' and 'Talaq-e-biddat'. The Quran and 'hadith' i.e. sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, approve of 'talaq-e-ahsan', and 'talaqe-hasan' as they are considered most reasonable form of divorce.

Can a woman return to her husband after khula? ›

Answers (3) You can do second marriage after completing the procedure as filed under Khula nama. as per Muslim personal law you also have to follow the Iddat time period and after that you can go for second marriage.

What is difference between khula and talaq? ›

Difference between Khula and Talaq

A divorce by talaq is not complete and irrevocable by a single declaration of the husband: but a divorce by khula is at once complete and irrevocable from the moment when the husband repudiates the wife and the separation takes place.

Is Khula halal in Islam? ›

Sunni scholars agree to the facts, but deem it halal ("lawful") anyway. Khula (Arabic:خلع) is the right of a woman in Islam to divorce and it means separation from her husband. After divorce, the husband is responsible for the education and maintenance of the children.

Is triple talaq allowed in Islam? ›

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 declares the instant divorce granted by pronouncement of talaq three times as void and illegal. It provides for imprisonment for a term up to 3 years and fine to the husband who practiced instant Triple Talaq.

How do I divorce my husband? ›

In Mutual consent divorce

STEP 1: First Motion involves joint filing of divorce petition. STEP 2: Husband & wife appear before court to record statements after filing of petition. STEP 3: Court examines petition, documents, tries reconciliation, records statements. STEP 4: Court passes order on First Motion.

How long is Islamic divorce? ›

Divorce, or talaq, is different for the husband and wife. In Islam, there is a three-month waiting period before the divorce is finalised. The husband's divorce pronouncement can be verbal or written, but it must be done once.

What Quran says about talaq? ›

Islam tolerates Talaq by making provisions for it under highly unfavourable conditions only as a last resort. In the words of Prophet Mohammad, “Of all the lawful things, divorce is the most hated by Allah.”

How can I get my wife to give me talaq? ›

Procedure to be followed for a Mutual Divorce.
  1. Step 1: Petition to file for divorce. ...
  2. Step 2: Appearing before Court and inspection of the petition. ...
  3. Step 3: Passing orders for a recording of statements on oath. ...
  4. Step 4: First Motion is passed and a period of 6 months is given before the Second Motion.
27 May 2019

Do you have to say divorce 3 times? ›

Sheikh Al-Islam ibn Taimiyah has said that saying the divorce three times in one sitting is considered only one divorce no matter whether his intention was to confirm or make a new divorce, and according to his opinion whoever says to his wife you are divorced, ×3 times, it is considered only one divorce and he can ...

Can a divorced man marry again in Islam? ›

Muslim Divorce System and Remarriage

A man and a woman may be divorced and then remarry under the Muslim divorce system. They may be divorced twice. After that point, this couple may not re-marry each other unless the woman marries someone else in the interim and is divorced from that other man.

Videos

1. Do Muslim Women Have The Right To Divorce?
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2. Can Muslim women divorce?
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3. A woman asking for divorce
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4. How did Muslim women get the right to divorce | Awaz The Voice
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5. Talaq (Divorce), Iddah (Waiting Period) and Khula (Woman's Right to Divorce) - Ahmad Sakr
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6. Conditions (valid reasons) under which wife can ask her husband for divorce in islam Assim al hakeem
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