Dissolution of a Marriage

Having said what was just said about marriage, Islam, though, is also a practical religion. It takes into consideration all possible common scenarios. It is possible for a man and woman to enter into a union with good intentions yet their personalities and likes simply do not coincide with one another. There are times in which a good marriage simply cannot be achieved and the spouses enter into a state of misery. Under such circumstances, Islamic law allows for an end to the marriage and their suffering.[1] The goal is to either stay together in a friendly manner or to separate in a goodly manner. Thus, for example,

Allah says,

“And when you have divorced women and they have fulfilled the term of their prescribed period, either take them back on reasonable basis or set them free on reasonable basis”


Allah also says,

“Then when they are about to fulfill their term appointed [bringing an end to the divorce], either take them back in a good manner or part with them in a good manner”


There are basically three ways in which a marriage is dissolved in Islamic Law. The first is talaaq, commonly translated as “divorce.” This is a pronouncement of divorce made by the husband. After this pronouncement, the wife enters into a “waiting period” of approximately three months, during which time they may simply reunite as husband and wife. However, after the third pronouncement of talaaq, reunification during the waiting period is no longer permissible and the two must separate completely. A second form is known as khul’. This is where the wife is not satisfied in the marriage and offers something to the husband to release her from the marriage. For example, she may offer to return the dower in exchange to bringing an end to the marriage. A third form is where the rights of the wife are not being met by the husband and therefore she turns to a judge to bring an end to the marriage.

Obviously, divorce is not a desired goal or a light matter. In a perfect world, all married couples would be in bliss. However, there are times in which this option is the best for all parties concerned.


  1. Unfortunately, in some Muslim cultures today, divorce has become so “shameful” they have neglected this important guidance of Islamic Law, leading to spouses suffering in silence. This is definitively not the goal of Islamic Law concerning such issues.

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