I want a divorce from my husband. Is that a good thing to do?
How do I go about it? Am I sinful for thinking this? Do I have to stay with him for 3 months? Do I give back my dowry (Mahr)?
Khul’a (الخلع) is the legal Islamic term for a woman requesting and getting a divorce from her husband. This is different than a divorce initiated by the husband, known as Talaq (الطلاق).
Abdullah ibn Abbas narrates that the wife of Thabit b. Qais got a divorce (Khul’a). So the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) commanded her to wait for one menstrual cycle before remarrying. This incident is reported authentically by many scholars including Tirmidhi.
Rabi bint Muawwiz (female companion) got a divorce (Khul’a) from her husband in the time of Uthman. Rabi’s uncle asked Uthman, “Can she leave her husband’s house immediately?”
Uthman replied, “Yes she must. There’s no inheritance between them (i.e. divorce is done). She must wait one menstrual period before remarrying to ensure that she isn’t pregnant.”
From these two incidents (along with the backing of major scholars of the companions like Uthman, Abdullah b. Umar and other later scholars such as Ishaq b. Rahawai, Imam Ahmad, ibn Taymiyyah, etc.) it’s clear that:
- A woman can request and get a divorce Islamically (Khul’a) as this was done by at least two female companions. There’s nothing wrong or sinful about it.
- The divorce is settled between the husband and the wife. So the wife asks for it and the husband agrees to it…and that’s it. There’s no “Islamic” paperwork. However, in the West, marriage and divorce should always be filed at city hall to ensure the correct legal status.|
- The divorce becomes final immediately, so the woman can leave the husband and move on. This is clear from Uthman’s verdict. This is especially important for women who have been abused. I’ve heard imams forcing abused women to stay with their husbands for 3 months to finalize the divorce!! That’s adding to the pain completely unnecessarily.
- The waiting period before remarrying is only one month for Khul’a. This is great as it allows a woman to quickly move on with her life, as she should.
- The financial terms of the Khul’a are open (if needed). As long as both agree to it, the divorce becomes final. There’s no requirement for the woman to give back her dowry (Mahr) as that is her right. If she chooses to and they agree, that’s acceptable.
- Is divorce a good thing? That is not a fiqh question. That totally depends on your circumstances.
Allah knows best.