A Muslimah’s Divorce Dilemma

DIVORCE. It’s another one of those topics people don’t like to discuss. Specially if you are a Muslim and even more so if you are an Asian.
But like other taboo issues, not talking about it doesn’t mean it does not exist within this community.

“Your wives are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them.” (Al Quran, 2:187)

We all know this verse from the Quran. Every person I know cites it to elaborate and make emphasis on the importance of a spouse and their duties to each other.

Sadly though, whether we like to admit it or not, there are times when no matter how hard each person tries, neither is feeling covered or comforted from their garment (i.e spouse).

Even more tragic is when one of them can no longer give the other the rights that Allah commanded them to give.

We all just want to be happy, and this is the case with most women I have come across.

Many are those who feel content with being provided for, but for most of us women, marriage is more than a business contract or being just roommates.

when I say that women want to be happy, I don’t mean that women need a lot of money, or the best looking husband. Most of us will give up any outward benefit in order to have a connection.

Whatever the cause of turmoil maybe, she needs support rather than skepticism. I remember when I used to speak about the dreaded ‘D’ word, room would go quiet, fingers would start pointing, and blame was given prematurely.

I have also seen and experienced personally that when a woman speaks up about her emotional, physical, or spiritual pain within a marriage she is met with the following :

1. “If a woman prays her five (daily prayers), fasts her month (Ramadaan), guards her chastity and obeys her husband, it will be said to her: ‘Enter Paradise from whichever of the gates of Paradise you wish.’” [Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 660]

2. “The smell of Paradise is forbidden for any woman who asks her husband to divorce her without a valid (Islamic) excuse.” [At-Tirmithi]

3. “Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands.” [Muslim]

4. “Be patient” because divorce pleases Shaitan.

There is NO doubt all of the above are sound advice. However, think for a moment what this means if said without further support, advice or clarification- The message received is that, no matter what kind of emotional or spiritual turmoil and distress she is experiencing, she would be better off suffering in silence.

Not only do we as a community avoid talking about what a “valid” reason is, we also imply that no matter what her reason is, it isn’t a “real” reason.

Take it from a former divorcee. It is EXTREMELY difficult for a woman to consider divorce. I did not wake up one day and suddenly think “Yes! today I will ask for a divorce!”
Some women contemplate divorce for months or even years, but she will ALWAYS hesitate.

I was constantly told that I had a problem with my iman (faith) for seeking divorce. Well, it is precisely because of her iman that a woman has this inner turmoil.
It is because of my faith, I was afraid of committing a sin. It is because of my faith, I was afraid of making too much of a big deal and being ungrateful. I was afraid of the stigma that is attached to being divorced (with or without children), and I was afraid of losing Allah’s blessing and gaining His wrath and pleasing Shaitan.

It is also important to add that without the proper support, her iman does suffer. And it suffers even more so because of the actual marital discord itself and because she is suffering ALONE.

All in all she is left feeling confused and trapped. On one hand, she has been told to “suffer and just deal with it” because that’s what a “pious and noble wife” would do. And on the other hand, she has this persistent tagging in her heart telling her “I don’t think Allah wants me to suffer like this. This is not what marriage is about .”

While it is true that there will always be some level of disagreement and suffering, Allah knows that each of us has a different level of tolerance.

Yes, divorce is discouraged, but it is permissible when we have reached our personal level of intolerance and no one knows when a woman has reached that level better than herself.

“If something goes wrong, and the woman feels that she cannot love her husband sincerely, and fears that she may commit the sin of disobeying and opposing the husband whom she does not love, then she may ask for a divorce. This is confirmed by the report (Fath al-Baari) in which the wife of Thaabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, Jameelah the sister of Abdullah ibn Ubayy, came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I have nothing against Thaabit ibn Qays as regards his religion or his behavior, but I hate to commit an act of kufr when I am a Muslim.” [The Ideal Muslimah]

Also, Ibn Abbaas said,

“Bareerah’s husband was a slave, who was known as Mugheeth…(after Bareerah asked for a divorce), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her, “Why do you not go back to him?” She said, “O Messenger of Allah, are you commanding me to do so?” He said, “I am merely trying to intervene on his behalf”. She said, “I have no need of him.” [Fath al Baari]

If you are experiencing hard times in your marriage, try to find support from a trusted friend, ask around for a marriage counselor and as always, consult Allah through istikhara, asking for guidance on what’s best for you and your children, your spiritual, emotional, and physical health.

And if divorce does happen, know that it DOES NOT make you a bad Muslimah. It DOES NOT mean it’s the end of your marital life and that you will never find happiness. And most importantly it DOES NOT mean you are a failure.
Also know that, you WILL find solutions and you will heal only with faith as your anchor.

Disclaimer: I do not endorse marriages involving any form of violence, in cases of abuse, it’s outright obligatory to get yourself out of harm’s way!

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4 Responses

  1. Sam says:

    70% of divorce applications are filed by women. It’s no longer a “difficult” decision, the financial benefits alone make it a fairly easy decision, go to any family court and see “muslim” women asking for 10 – 15 years of spousal support while Islam clearly and specifically only states 3 months.

    • Salwa says:

      I filed my divorce n I didn’t demand anything. Even though 6 months during marriage he stopped giving me monthly nafqah.. I just wanted it to finish without fights

  2. Ali Khan says:

    British born Pakistani women pick the what suites them best,both in Islam and also in British family law.
    With kids some women(not all) can take upto 70% of wealth.
    Islamically when a woman applies for divorce she has to even forfeit her Mehr.
    Unless they are education professionals,women with Divorce in UK, they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.Even their parents now encourage them.

  3. Luu says:

    sign a prenup….in this day and age makes perfect sense!

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