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Reasons to consider divorce

The divorce rate in America is one of the highest in the world (over 50 percent). But the divorce rate of Muslims in North America is almost as high, according to New York based sociologist Ilyas Ba-Yunus.

Yes, it's true. Muslims today are divorcing in larger numbers than before. There are clearly problems within families that have not been addressed: dysfunction, miscommunication, and in a number of cases violence and abuse.

But while Muslims are taking this step in larger numbers, what does Islam have to say about it?

The Islamic perspective on divorce

"Divorce is something that is very much discouraged in Islam," explains Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

"It is called, according to one of the Hadith of the Prophet Sal Allahu alayhi wa Sallam (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 'the most hateful thing that is permissible.'"

This stance discouraging divorce needs to be seen in a balanced way, notes Siddiqi.

"It has to be used very carefully," he says.

What are some legitimate reasons for a couple to consider divorce?

There are definitely valid reasons Muslim men and women can seek divorce.

"One legitimate reason is if there is immoral behavior, unIslamic behavior on the part of a spouse," says Siddiqi. "If a spouse is involved in that, then there is a breakdown."

"For example if one of the spouses, God forbid, is involved in adultery or fornication. In that case, they have a right to separate and this is a legitimate ground for separation."

Another valid reason for divorce is apostasy on the part of either spouse. If a Muslim man or woman's spouse leaves Islam, Siddiqi says the marriage is null and void and the couple can no longer be together.

Abdalla Idris Ali is a member of ISNA's executive body and former president of the organization. He adds to the list of legitimate reasons for seeking divorce dishonesty prior to marriage.

For instance, if a husband told his wife before marriage that he did not consume alcohol or drugs and she discovers after marriage that he is an alcoholic or drug addict.

Some other reasons are:

  • a woman was married before and she did not tell her husband
  • a woman marries man and he is impotent, and she finds out after marriage.
  • cruelty
  • a man's inability or refusal to support his wife
  • a wife's refusal to live with her husband or be with him.
  • if one of the spouses is unable to have conjugal relations
  • one spouse feels repulsion towards the other.

Ali, however, cautions against jumping to divorce quickly and adds that every case has to be looked at individually.

"It is one thing to speak about a ruling. It is another thing to speak about a judgement in a certain case," he says in an interview with Sound Vision and RadioIslam.com.

"If you ask me now, what is the ruling in Islam for a young man who commits Zina (adultery and fornication)? I'll tell you Allah says, give him 100 lashes. This is what the Quran says."

"But you bring me a man and say, this man committed Zina. I'm not going just to give him 100 lashes. This is a case. I have to investigate it, to see whether he did it, you cannot just go and apply the rule."

Illegitimate reasons to seek divorce

Along with legitimate reasons for seeking divorce, Siddiqi and Ali also point to those that are not so acceptable.

Siddiqi gives the example of a husband not liking the way a wife cooks or dresses.

"One should not expect perfection on the part of the spouse because nobody's perfect except Allah and His Messenger. Everybody has shortcomings," he says in an interview with Sound Vision from his home in Orange County, California.

"One should have willingness to sacrifice some of the things," he adds. "This is how the family is established, how it becomes a better family.

Another reason that should not be grounds for divorce is just moodiness on the part of a spouse, says Ali.

What can couples do to avoid divorce?

Siddiqi recommends the following steps to couples who are in difficulty:

1. Both spouses should have the fear of Allah. They should remember that if they are unfair to their spouse, they will be judged on their behavior by Allah.
2. They should try to resolve the problem amongst themselves, then within family members
3. They should not hesitate to involve other members of the community. For instance, they should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to meet and speak with their local Imam (if he is someone fair and trustworthy to the husband and the wife).
4. Seek counseling, preferably from a Muslim counselor. If that is not possible than from a non-Muslim counselor. However, they should be aware of Islamic guidelines so they can take advice from that which is in line with Islamic values.

"As physically we can get sick, our relations also can get sick sometimes," says Siddiqi. "The sooner we take care of this problem the better. We should not prolong it. We should resolve the differences as soon as possible and as much as possible. But when problems go on and on, then the wounds will grow."

Siddiqi recommends Muslim couples draft a prenuptial agreement and specify that all conflicts in marriage should be resolved Islamically and in the case of divorce, this process, if it happens, is also handled in a manner in line with Islamic guidelines.



Your Comments

Nida Zaidi, Anaheim - wrote on 5/6/2012 3:12:00 AM
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Comment: Salaam! My question is what if Muslim woman says talaaq in her heart by using her husband's name what would happened.. Even though she didn't really mean it?


rabia, gauteng - wrote on 3/24/2012 3:06:19 AM
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Comment: salaam,can somebody help me,i've been married for six years now and have 2 kids.since two weeks after we got married the problems started.my husband was extemely hung up on the fact that his father wouldnt allow him to marry his ex and forced him to marry me.and i knew non of this before we married.and ever since his been chatting to many women on his phone inappropritaely,this happened about six times and i kept on forgiving him and trying to hang in there hoping thing would get better.but it didnt,he then had an affair with my sister over the phone and internet .and again i forgave him.and even after that he swears at me every single day,calls me the ugliest names.i cant even kiss him any more im so repulsed by him wat should i do?help please


nazia, birmingham - wrote on 3/21/2012 5:50:54 PM
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Comment: Can a Muslim women leave her husband just for an other guy, becasue he is still waiting for me, hes parents are telling him to get married but he doesn't want to becuase he need's me. he luvs truely since mani years, he has done alot to have me, but nothing workd at all!!! i just don't know what to do? Im so stress out!!! i need help! becuase he still thinks that I will come back in his life again.


tyra, wales - wrote on 3/17/2012 3:14:38 AM
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Comment: I wish i have found this spell caster earlier before spending my money on spell without result.His powers are really amazing and i enjoyed the satisfaction i gained from using his spell. He is really gifted with powers to help people with their various problems. His contact is priestandrew91@yahoo.com


Nafeeza, Gauteng - wrote on 1/19/2012 7:23:49 AM
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Comment: My husband and I are going on one year marriage. I love him alot but its just not enough for me anymore. He has no proper way of speaking to me, although i have told a hundred times before he stills reverts to his ways. I feel uncared for. He doesn't contribute anything towards the house unless he can see we really need groceries or he will wait for somebody else to buy things because we live with my parents. He spends money on things we don't need eg: Computers, and gaming etc, we are so much in Debt but he still spends when not needed. He doesnt make any effort to see his son that he had with his first wife. He does'nt understand me at all. I am really trying hard to keep it together, everytime i have a problem i discuss it with him, and he takes it as a joke. He would rather please other people in my family than myself. I don't ask for much, i try and do everything by myself before i can ask him for anything extra. I have given up talking to him. I just don't know what to do.


Khaterah, Denver - wrote on 10/30/2011 10:08:22 PM
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Comment: salaam! I wanted to answer a couple questions i saw was asked. Someone asked if a muslim woman could divorce for another man. The answer is no. According to a hadith I read it says {if im not mistaken] Women should fear that they are divorcing for a valid reason because if its not then she will not smell the scent of paradise. Check on it yourself so you have your own knowledge, but I believe this is correct. Also, for the muslim men....there is many of mus lim sistas in this world...you should go for a muslim sista vs a woman of another religion. Reason being, because if you have a woman you are married to that does not have your beliefs there will of course be issues because she does not follow what you follow. My advice is to get a good muslim woman that you can fulfill your duties to for the pleasure of allah. ma salama


dede, cleveland - wrote on 5/11/2011 6:15:29 PM
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Comment: my husband is a great provider, but he will not leave the streets along. he does not make salat, all he wants to do is drink,stay in the streets, and go to the bars.....so stressed!


dede, cleveland - wrote on 5/11/2011 6:14:24 PM
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Comment: my husband is a great provider, but he will not leave the streets along. he does not make salat, all he wants to do is drink,stay in the streets, and go to the bars.....so stressed!


Amy, MILTON KEYNES - wrote on 2/13/2011 4:56:29 PM
Rating: Rating

Comment: MY HUSBAND HAVE ANOTHER WIFE WHO IS CHRISTIAN BUT NOT GOOD CHRISTIAN, RECENTLY WE HAD AGUMENT AND HE TOLD MY FRIEND IF I CALL HIM IN HIS LANDLINE WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION IT WILL BE MY DIVORCE AFTER 3WEEKS I CALL HIM, AND HE TOLD ME THAT WAS DIVORCE BECAUSE I CALL HIS LANDLINE WITHOUT HI PERMISSION! PLEASE HELP ME IS THIS DIVORCE?


Amy, LONDON - wrote on 2/13/2011 4:52:46 PM
Rating: Rating

Comment: MY HUSBAND HAVE ANOTHER WIFE WHO IS CHRISTIAN BUT NOT GOOD CHRISTIAN, RECENTLY WE HAD AGUMENT AND HE TOLD MY FRIEND IF I CALL HIM IN HIS LANDLINE WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION IT WILL BE MY DIVORCE AFTER 3WEEKS I CALL HIM, AND HE TOLD ME THAT WAS DIVORCE BECAUSE I CALL HIS LANDLINE WITHOUT HI PERMISSION! PLEASE HELP ME IS THIS DIVORCE?


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