Does a woman have the right to divorce her husband in Islam? Islam ensures and preserves the rights of every person, not only individually, but also when people agree to a contract. Marriage is a contract between a woman and a man that requires complete understanding of rights and responsibilities, especially if disputes arise. As such, although Islam essentially gives the right of divorce to the husband, it also permits conditions which can place that right with the wife.
Bismillahir -Rahmanir-Rahim, my dear brothers and sisters, as salaamu alaikum jami'an wa Rahmatullahi Wa barakatuh. Muslims sometimes ask the question whether it is permissible for a woman or whether she has the right to divorce her husband in Islam. Let us consider this from the jurisprudential perspective. Essentially, the right of divorce is in the hands of the husband. However, we must recognize that Islam allows for certain conditions, for certain requirements to be stipulated in the marriage contract, thus allowing both parties, the wife and the husband, to have certain rights again within the framework or the law of Islam.
However, let us consider divorce from a general perspective.
Why is it that we often find ourselves having to treat the conditions of divorce, meaning the bitterness, the contentiousness, the lack of understanding or the lack of compassion between the parties, especially from the husband, sometimes towards the wife, and as such, having to deal with it in the manner of treatment or how can we solve this problem? Instead would it not behoove us to act in a preventative measure? Hence, even at the time of marriage, when a woman and a man are getting married, that we instill in them the proper ideas that Islam wants to inculcate within us to make them aware of their rights, their obligations and what can and cannot be included in the marriage contract.
Thus, God forbid, if there is any dispute, if there is any irreconcilable differences between the two parties, between the wife and the husband later in life, whether five years down the road, whether 10 years down the road, that the marriage contract already contains the terms by which they can resolve these issues. I urge you to begin to go to Imam-us.org, the Imam Mahdi Association Marjaiya website, to see the marriage contract and even to make yourself familiar with the divorce contract, to see the terms, to understand the stipulations and the requirements and what can and cannot be done.
Now, to answer the main question, does the woman have the power to divorce her husband?
Well, again, the right of divorce is in the hands of the husband. However, when a woman gets married to a man, she can stipulate in the marriage contract and it can be agreed upon by both parties, it must be agreed upon by both parties, that she will take the wikalah or the agency of divorce from her husband, and that this will be stipulated and specifically mentioned in the marriage contract. This is an irrevocable agency that is given to the wife, and it must be implemented under the guidance or the supervision of a scholar who can ensure that the terms for her being able to apply the agency of divorce for herself, meaning her divorcing herself based on this agency from the husband, is being done with the proper requirements being fulfilled.
So, for example, the husband is found to be deficient in some way, negligent in some way. He does not maintain the wife and he persists in this negligence over a period of certain number of months which are stipulated in the marriage contract, or God forbid, the husband is abusive to the wife. And this abuse persists and it is determined that this abuse is grounds for the wife to be able to exercise her agency and divorce herself from the husband using that agency.
Or, for instance, the husband and wife mutually agreed to get divorced in a civil court. However, the husband, for some reason is non-compliant when it comes to the religious divorce and refuses to give her the Islamic or religious divorce. Again, within the terms of that marriage contract and what is agreed upon, under the supervision of an appropriate scholar, the woman can take the wikalah, the agency at the time of marriage and based on the conditions then the divorce is performed or the pronouncement of the divorce is performed with the appropriate terminology, the appropriate Sigha, and by which then the woman then becomes divorced from her husband, stipulated and clearly delineated in the marriage contract.
These are the rights that are given to us.
And again, it behooves us to understand our rights and our responsibilities and particularly the power that is given to the woman if she fully understands what Islam allows. Thus, when we marry our children, when we marry two people, men and women, we must do so in the manner in which we allow them to know what they can and cannot do and not only plan for the next year of life, which is really the moments that are happy and joyous and really part of the romantic aspect of being a husband and a wife, but to plan for the next 10, 15, 20 years when marriage, God forbid, can become rocky, disagreements can arise. And now the solution becomes very difficult because we did not plan for it. We did not arrive for it.
And again, that is not to say that you marry with the thought that you might get divorced. No, it is to say that we plan for a long life and a partnership that at times can become rocky and difficult, and that by no means does Islam allow one party to abuse the other or to hold unlawfully the other in a position that is not fair to them.
Religiously Islam protects the rights of the woman and protects the rights of the man. And if we understand these rights and obligations properly, we can have a happy and resolved life for both and resolutions to problems that will give each their right in the perfect manner. With this, I remind you, go to the Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaiya website, look at the divorce application, even the marriage application. Familiarize yourself with the details of these two procedures and what it means for the wife to take wikalah agency from the husband at the moment of marriage so that then she has this agency of divorce if the conditions are fulfilled.
I wish you well. May Allah give you happy and compassionate relationships with your spouses such that divorce never becomes an issue. We are here to help you. So reach out to us with your questions and your comments. Wa assalamu alaykum, wa Rahmatullahi, wa barakatuh.