#331: A Wife Divorcing Herself


Assalamualaikum ustaz. Can a wife seek divorce for herself?


Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Arguments in a marriage are normal and a part of life. However, every issue or problem should be resolved properly. Divorce is discouraged in Islam.

We should know that the original ruling for divorce (talaq) is permissible in Islam but makruh (discouraged and disliked by syarak). This is in accordance with a hadith from Ibn Umar R.Anhuma, where Rasullullah PBUH said:

أَبغَضُ الحَلاَلِ إلى اللهِ عزَّ وجلَّ الطَّلاَقُ

“The lawful thing which God hates most is divorce.” [1]

Divorce is the last resort if the effort to mend the relationship between husband and wife is irreconcilable. That is if it is for reasons permitted by syarak.

First, the 5 requisites for talaq are:

  1. Sighah
  2. Wife (a person talaq is declared upon)
  3. State (a place where talaq is addressed)
  4. Qasad (intention – the meaning of talaq is intended)
  5. Husband (the person who declares talaq)

The original ruling for the authority of talaq is the husband’s. However, in Islam, a husband is permitted to hand over the authority of talaq to the wife on the condition that the husband’s permission is obtained (the husband agrees with the talaq of his wife) and it happens at the time.

Imam al-Syirazi in the book al-Muhazzab said: “It is permissible for a husband to hand over the authority of talaq to his wife or through a representative. When the authority of talaq is handed over to the wife, then it is permissible for the wife to divorce herself on the condition that both of them are together when the talaq is pronounced and the matter that will sentence talaq is uttered with the agreed matter by them both.” [2]

However, it is sinful if a wife seeks divorce from her husband without any valid reasons permitted by syara’.

From Thauban RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:

أَيُّمَا امْرَأَةٍ سَأَلَتْ زَوْجَهَا طَلَاقًا مِنْ غَيْرِ بَأْسٍ فَحَرَامٌ عَلَيْهَا رَائِحَةُ الجَنَّةِ

“If any woman asks her husband for divorce without some strong reason the odour of paradise will be forbidden to her.” [3]

Syeikh Muhammad Hassan Abd al-Ghaffar in his book al-Qawaid al-Fiqhiyah [4] stated: If a woman asked for a divorce without any valid reason, it can harm her husband, while an Islamic legal maxim stated:

لاَ ضَرَرَ وَلاَ ضِرَارَ

“There is no injury nor return of injury.”

To conclude, we state that it is permissible for a wife to ask for a divorce from her husband if there is a strong permitted reason by syarak. If there is none, then it is prohibited and sinful for a wife to ask for a divorce from her husband. Likewise, it is prohibited and sinful for a husband to divorce his wife without any reasonable reason. However, one should be reminded that divorce is the last choice and not a primary resolve.

We advise that every matter or issue needs a discussion and mediator to solve a marriage conflict. Every marriage has its own conflicts and challenges, however, how far a person is able to face it must be based on the rulings of syarak.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Narrated by Abu Dawud (2178) and Ibn Majah (2018). Syeikh Syuaib al-Arnout stated in Takhrij Sunan Abi Dawud (2178) the narrators of this hadith are Thiqah but the correct hadith is mursal.

[2] See al-Muhazzab, 2/81

[3] Narrated by al-Tirmidzi (1187). This hadith is evaluated as sahih according to the book Sahih al-Tirmidzi (1187)

[4] See Qawaid al-Fiqhiyyah baina al-Asolah wa al-Taujih, 10/8