What are the permitted cases for divorce in Islam? Does a woman has also the right to ask for divorce?
I am not really certain about what exactly do you imply by ‘the permitted cases for divorce’. I shall answer your question on the presumption that it pertains to the circumstances under which Islam allows divorce. In other words, I shall answer the question: ‘What are the permitted circumstances for divorce in Islam?’. In case I have misconstrued your question, please ignore the answer that follows and let me know what exactly do you imply by ‘permitted cases for divorce in Islam’.
Islam does not stipulate a list of allowable circumstances for divorce. However, it may be derived from the directives regarding divorce in the Qur’an as well as from sayings ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) that even though God has not prohibited divorce (due to a certain degree of unpredictability of human behavior in interactive relations), yet it is something, which is extremely undesirable in the eyes of God1. This obviously implies that a man and a woman should resort to divorce only under extremely grave and pressing circumstances. Divorce should, in my opinion therefore, be resorted to only after all possible measures of avoiding it have failed and any one or both of the concerned parties is of the opinion that he/she cannot live a good, peaceful and pious life with the other.
You may ask what exactly constitute ‘grave and pressing circumstances’. However, unfortunately, there can be no standard universal answer to this question. We know that a certain set of circumstances may be considered as ‘grave and pressing’ by one individual and not so by another. This aspect, therefore, cannot and should not be standardized. The decision, regarding what constitutes ‘grave and pressing circumstances’ would rest with the individuals in question.
Keeping the foregoing explanation in mind, it may be said that from a legal standpoint, Islam allows divorce for whatever reasons it be sought. While from the individuals’ perspective, it should be suggested that he/she should seek divorce only for reasons that are truly grave and pressing in his/her sight, as our Lord does not like a family to break-up.
Islam does not prohibit a woman from seeking divorce. A woman may ask for divorce for absolutely any reason, considered ‘grave and pressing’ by her.
11th March 2000
- A close study of the directives relating to divorce in the Qur’an shows that one of the basic emphasis in these directives is to facilitate reviewing and revising the decision and thereby increasing the chances of avoidance of divorce and thus saving the family from breaking-up. Moreover, the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: ‘Among the things allowed by God, divorce is something which he dislikes the most’. [↩]