Divorce: A Taboo Word?

By Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt

Did You Know About the Following Muslim Divorces?

  • The Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) divorced his wife Ḥafsa(See: Sunan Abī Dāwūd)
  • ʿOmar bin Khaṭṭāb (may God be pleased with him) divorced three of his wives, namely, Qarībah, Omm Kulthūm Malīkah and Jamīlah Bint Thābit – (See: Faṣl Al-Khiṭāb)
  • ʿAlī Bin Abī Ṭālib (may God be pleased with him) divorced a number of his wives. – (See: Al-Bidāyah Wa Al-Nihāyah)
  • ‘Abd Al-Raḥmān Ibn ʿAwf (may God be pleased with him) divorced his wife Tumāḍir Bint Al-Asbag. – (See: Tārikh Dimashq)
  • Zayd bin Ḥārithah (may God be pleased with him) divorced three of his wives, Zaynab Bint Jaḥash, Umm Kulthūm Bint ʿUqbah and Durrah Bint Abī Lahab. – (See: Al-Bidāyah Wa Al-Nihāyah)
  • ʿAbd Allāh Ibn ʿOmar (may God be pleased with him) divorced his wife. – (See: Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī)
  • Ḥasan Ibn ʿAlī Ibn Abī Ṭālib (may God be pleased with him) married seventy times and divorced a number of his wives. – (See: Al-Bidāyah Wa Al-Nihāyah)
  • Mughīrah Bin Shuʾbah (may God be pleased with him) married eighty times. He divorced most of his wives. – (Tārīkh Dimashq, Al-Bidāyah Wa Al-Nihāyah)
  • The Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) had full intentions and made up his mind to divorce his wife Sawdah Bint Zamʿah. The only reason he didn’t was because Sawdah relinquished her rights and requested him not to, so she could be raised in the hereafter as one of the wives of Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) on Judgment Day. – (Tafsīr Al-Qurṭubīy)

Practicality of Islam

Unlike many cultures or religions, Islam provides a practical and realistic approach to every human situation. Marriage and divorce is no different. There is no sin, objection nor humiliation in divorcing when it is required.

Last Resort

Marriage is supposed to be forever. However, some marriages just do not work out. Islam encourages counseling, mediation and family therapy before taking the final step to dismantle the marriage relationship. If the couple has exhausted every effort possible to repair the marriage, the best option is for the couple to go their own ways, with peace.

“Divorce may be pronounced twice, thereafter either remain together honourably or depart with peace.”
(Qurʾān 2:229)

“There is no objection if you divorce your wives [for valid reasons].”
(Qurʾān 2:236)

“To end a marriage for good reasons is allowed (mubāḥ) with no dislikeness (karāhah). Divorce is praiseworthy (mandūb) where marital rights are not being fulfilled and there is too much discord.”
(I’elā Al-Sunan)

Types of Divorce in Islam

  • Rajʿīe: This is when the husband pronounces one divorce to the wife. He may reconcile with his wife within 3 menstrual cycles.
  • Bāin: This is when severe words of divorce are pronounced. The couple can only reconcile after a new marriage contract takes place, following the ‘iddah (required waiting period).
  • Mughalladhah: When 3 pronouncements of divorce are made. In such a situation the couple cannot reconcile.

(See: Qāmūs Al-Fiqh Li Al-Raḥmānīy)

Triple Divorce, An Evil Practice

The general notion [based on ignorance] is that in order to divorce, one must Islamically pronounce the divorce three times. The reality is that issuing three divorce pronouncements whether all together, in a single instance or three separate intervals, is prohibited in Islam. A husband can end the marriage with one or two pronouncements of divorce, followed by the passing of three menstrual cycles, therefore there is no need nor requirement to pronounce three. Pronouncing three divorces is regarding as a bid’ah(reprehensible innovation in religion) by both classical as well as modern islamic jurists. This is why God states the maximum of two, when addressing the topic. See verse below:

“Divorce may be pronounced twice, thereafter either remain together honourably or depart with peace.”
(Qurʾān 2:229)

Wife Initiated Divorce

In Islam, a wife also has the right to initiate the divorce, where required, through the Khulaʾ and or Faskhprocedure. In Khulaʾ , the wife initiates the divorce and usually gives up a religious financial right such as outstanding mahr (bridal gift) during such an Islamic divorce.

Faskh (annulment of the marriage) is applied in a scenario where the husband is either not fulfilling rights of the marriage or there is abuse. Both Khulaʾ and or Faskh have specific rules which must be adhered to when they are employed, on a case by case situation.

Separation in Islam

In Islam, a person is either married or not married. There is no such thing as an automatic marriage separation if one of the partners wants out, according to Islam (contrary to the western legal system). Separation in a marriage can only come into existence, islamicaly, if both spouses mutually agree to a separation. This is usually the case if both partners have serious issues and mutually agree to a separation period prior to formalizing any further decision of reconciliation or divorce.

Legal Divorce in a Non Muslim Country

There are two views among contemporary muslim jurists regarding the Islamic validity of a legal divorce issued in a non muslim court. One view is that a judge’s divorce decree from such a court, also automatically serves as an Islamic divorce. The other position is that it can only serve as an islamic divorce if the husband has signed the legal divorce documents. If not, the wife must seek her Islamic divorce through the Islamic Khula or Faskh procedures before or after a legal divorce.

Some Examples Where Divorce is Required in Islam

  • A partner renounces Islam.
  • A spouse leaves and walks out of the marriage for more than 4 months with no notice or intent of return.
  • The spouse dislikes their partner’s bad character and habits to the extent that living with them is intolerable. Getting along with the spouse is impossible.
  • A spouse dislikes the religious practice of their partner due to them being an open sinner and or transgressor. For example they constantly abandon mandatory religious practices, engage in illegal drugs, infidelity or criminal activity and or instructs the partner to commit sin. Living with such a spouse would negatively affect one’s own religious practice.
  • A partner is physically or emotionally abused.
  • A spouse does not fulfill mandatory rights of the marriage such as basic necessities and or intercourse.
  • A spouse comes to know that their partner has undergone a sex change.


Even though divorce is not a pleasant matter, it is a necessity in many situations. Dismantling a marriage relationship is no easy feat however is praiseworthy in some situations.

As long as the institution of marriage has been in place, the rules and stipulations of ending a marriage, through divorce have also been applied.

“Live in peace or leave in peace.”

Source: brought to you by Mathabah, read more here.

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