Divorce in Islam

Marriage is a beautiful thing which is considered something very precious through the process by which two people make their relationship public, official, and permanent, and with an obvious recognition by both people and their family, as it’s said to believe that it’s the marriage between the families and not just the two people. Allah says:

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُوا حَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا إِن يُرِيدَا إِصْلَاحًا يُوَفِّقِ اللَّهُ بَيْنَهُمَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا خَبِيرًا

“And if you fear dissension between (the) two of then send an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family. If they both wish reconciliation, Allah will cause reconciliation between both of them. Indeed, Allah is All-Knower, All-Aware.”  (Surah An-Nisa, 4:35)

A bond that is supposed to last until death do them apart, but in practice is increasingly cut short by divorce. Well, a lot can happen in a few decades. However, there are right and wrong ways to do such a serious thing. Marriage is an area where religion and civil law often seem to conflict. Allah says:

لَّا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِن طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ مَا لَمْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ أَوْ تَفْرِضُوا لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ عَلَى الْمُوسِعِ قَدَرُهُ وَعَلَى الْمُقْتِرِ قَدَرُهُ مَتَاعًا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“(There is) no blame upon you if you divorce [the] women whom not you have touched nor you specified for them an obligation (dower). And make provision for them – upon the wealthy according to his means and upon the poor according to his means – a provision in a fair manner, a duty upon the good-doers.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:236)

Marriage is prescribed by Allah Almighty. It is the lawful union of man and woman based on mutual approval. The Holy Quran uses the word “Nikah” for this union of a man and a woman. Its literal meaning is getting involved with each other just like rainwater absorbs in the earth. Allah says:

فَإِن طَلَّقَهَا فَلَا تَحِلُّ لَهُ مِن بَعْدُ حَتَّىٰ تَنكِحَ زَوْجًا غَيْرَهُ فَإِن طَلَّقَهَا فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا أَن يَتَرَاجَعَا إِن ظَنَّا أَن يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ يُبَيِّنُهَا لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ

“Then if he divorces her, then (she is) not lawful for him from after (that) until she marries a spouse other than him. Then if he divorces her then no sin on them if they return to each other if they believe that they (will be able to) keep (the) limits. (of) Allah. And these (are the) limits. (of) Allah. He makes them clear to people who know.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:230)

So, the Quran call husband and wife equal partner. It means that both are fundamental to each other in a family union. It is clear that in the absence of compatibility, family life will not be balanced and healthy.

There are certain rules which should be followed and if not, then the divorce is invalid nonetheless…

  1. THE HUSBAND’S INTENTIONS: It is conditional that the man who divorces his wife be sane and the obligatory precaution is that he be mature and that his divorce is of his own volition without compulsion. Thus, forced divorce is invalid. He should be very serious about his intentions.
  2. THE CORRECT WAY TO DIVORCE: The Seeghah of divorce must be performed in correct Arabic and two men must hear it. When the husband himself desires to divorce, he states the Seeghah of divorce and mentions the name of his wife.
  3.  CONDITION OF A WOMAN: It is conditional that the woman at the time of her divorce is free of menstruation and afterbirth bleeding and her husband has not had intercourse with her in that time when she’s not on her periods. If he had intercourse with her in the state of menstruation or afterbirth bleeding which has preceded this period of purity, the divorce is not sufficient according to precaution. Rather, he must wait until she menstruates another time, then, becomes pure.
  4. DIVORCING A TEMPORARY WIFE: There is no divorce for a temporary wife, rather, the temporary wife emerges from this marriage when the established period concludes or he grants her the remainder of the temporary marriage. Her purity from the month custom is not conditional and, likewise, there is no need to call upon witnesses.
  5. MUBAARA’AH DIVORCE: When the spouses, each one of them, dislike each other and the wife offers her dowry or some other property for the man to divorce her, that is called Mubaara’ah divorce.

There are a lot of reasons why a couple might choose to get divorced. If these couples were married within the rites of Islam, or if they are devout Muslims, these are the 10 things they should know.

  1. Islam discourages divorce but, unlike some religions, does make provisions for divorce by either party.
  2. Allah encourages the husband and wife to appoint arbitrators as the first step to aid in reconciliation in the process of divorce.
  3. If the reconciliation step fails, both the man and woman are guaranteed the right to divorce as established in the Quran.
  4. When a divorce is initiated by the man, it is known as Talaaq. The pronouncement by the husband may be verbal or written, but once made, there is to be a waiting period of three months (‘Iddah) during which there can be no sexual relations, even though the two are living under the same roof.
  5. The divorce initiated by the wife is known as Khula‘ (if the husband is not at fault) and requires that the wife return her dowry to end the marriage because she is the ‘contract breaker.
  6. In the instance of Talaaq, where the husband is the ‘contract-breaker’, he must pay the dowry in full in cases where all or part of it was deferred, or allow the wife to keep all of it if she has already been given it in full.
  7. In the case that the husband is at fault and the woman is interested in divorce, she can petition a judge for divorce, with a cause. She would be required to offer proof that her husband had not fulfilled his marital responsibilities.
  8. One legitimate reason for divorce is if there is immoral or unIslamic behaviour on the part of a spouse. For example, if one of the spouses, is involved in adultery or fornication. In that case, they have a right to separate and this is a legitimate ground for separation.
  9. Another valid reason for divorce is apostasy on the part of either spouse. If a Muslim man or woman’s spouse leaves Islam, the marriage is null and void and the couple can no longer be together.
  10. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Among lawful things, divorce is most hated by Allah.” (Reported by Abu Dawud) The spouses should avoid divorce as much as possible. If they have difficulties and problems they should try to work out their differences and seek help from their relatives, friends or professional counsellors.


  • “Talaq, Talaq, Talaq”, when pronounced by the husband, the marriage automatically ends right away, making both the parties free from each other. This method of giving divorce by pronouncing the word “Talaq” three times by the husband is known as “Triple Talaq” or “Talaq-e-biddat”.
  • It is different from the practice of “talaq-ul-Sunnat”, which is considered to be the ideal form of dissolution of marriage contract among Muslims.
  • In the practice of talaq-e-biddat, when a man pronounces talaq thrice in a sitting, or through phone, or writes in a talaqnama or a text message, the divorce is considered immediate and irrevocable, even if the man later wishes to re-conciliate. The only way for the couple to live together is, through nikah halala – which requires the woman to get remarried, consummate the second marriage, get divorced, observe a three-month iddat period and return to her husband. After the pronouncement when the divorce takes place, the wife becomes separated from the husband in terms of responsibilities and relationship.
  • Triple talaq has been supported by the Hanafi school of law amongst Sunni Muslims in India for centuries. Sunni Muslims, which constitute a majority of Muslims in India, are the ones who practice triple talaq, as the Shias do not recognize it.

وَإِنْ عَزَمُوا الطَّلَاقَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“And if they resolve (on) [the] divorce – then indeed, Allah (is) All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:227)

There has been much misinterpretation and propagation of mistruth about a woman’s rights in the matters of marriage and divorce. It is only with self-education and awareness of the Quranic verses that both men and women can come to know the truth of what Allah Almighty has prescribed and to evaluate the scholarly explanation firmly to ensure that the spirit of justice is carried out: Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ لِعِدَّتِهِنَّ وَأَحْصُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ رَبَّكُمْ لَا تُخْرِجُوهُنَّ مِن بُيُوتِهِنَّ وَلَا يَخْرُجْنَ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَقَدْ ظَلَمَ نَفْسَهُ لَا تَدْرِي لَعَلَّ اللَّهَ يُحْدِثُ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ أَمْرًا

“O Prophet! When you divorce [the] women, then divorce them for their waiting period, and keep count (of) the waiting period, and consciously revere Allah, your Lord. (Do) not expel them from their houses, and not they should leave except that they commit immorality clear. And these (are the) limits (of) Allah. And whoever transgresses (the) limits (of) Allah then certainly he has wronged himself. Not you know; perhaps Allah will bring about, after that, a matter.” (Surah At-Talaq 65:1)

Divorce is known as ‘Talaq’ in Islamic Law. It is not merely a word that fascinates others, but it dissolves the purest relationship between a husband and a wife. Talaq in its original sense means ‘repudiation or rejection of marriage’, but in Islam, it means a termination of the contract of marriage forthwith. Allah says:

عَسَىٰ رَبُّهُ إِن طَلَّقَكُنَّ أَن يُبْدِلَهُ أَزْوَاجًا خَيْرًا مِّنكُنَّ مُسْلِمَاتٍ مُّؤْمِنَاتٍ قَانِتَاتٍ تَائِبَاتٍ عَابِدَاتٍ سَائِحَاتٍ ثَيِّبَاتٍ وَأَبْكَارًا

“Perhaps his Lord, if he divorced you, [that] He will substitute for him wives better than you submissive, faithful, obedient, repentant, who worship, who fast, previously married and virgins.” (Surah At-Tahrim 66:5)

When the spouses, each one of them, dislike each other and the wife offers her dowry or some other property for the man to divorce her, that is called Mubaara’ah divorce. There were a few important things to remember, but hope you would never need it and would go on living a healthy married life. Insha’Allah and Ameen.

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