In Islam, the dissolution of a marriage, otherwise known as divorce is usually, and should be, the last resort for Muslims who have marital issues. The couple must have exhausted all options, mostly by making extra personal efforts and seeking advice from Islamic scholars, relatives, friends or professional counsellors. The reason for this is that marriage in Islam is a means of seeking Allah’s pleasure and an incredible blessing Allah has bestowed on humankind.
‘’And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed, in that are signs for a people who give thought.’’[Qur’an 30 verse 21]
Of course, the purpose of getting married as stated in the above Ayah is to find tranquility in our spouses and enjoy the bliss that comes with marital life. But, this is not the case for every Muslim marriage. For a wide range of reasons, most people struggle to keep their marriage together and more often than not, they get so tired of trying that things begin to fall apart.
Against the general assumption, a marriage doesn’t have to be in a messy state before one of the couple files for divorce. Yes, some marriages end peacefully and the dissolution is mutually agreed by the couple. There is no chapter in one’s life that begins except it has been written by Allah and there is no chapter in one’s life that ends except it has been written by Allah. Indeed, every divorce process is delicate for the parties involved, but not every divorce is surrounded by pettiness, chaos or destruction.
We really need to do better as an Ummah in terms of the way we treat divorcees and in some cases, their children. This is especially for marriages that end peacefully. You don’t have to walk up to the woman, for instance and say to her ‘’you should be grateful to Allah’’ ‘’Do you know how many women will do anything to have him?’’ ‘’Have Sabr, deal with the issues’’ and all those guilt tripping and victim shaming lines. Being stuck in a loveless or sometimes, sexless marriage can have negative effects on your overall well-being as a human and yes, it is enough reason to walk out of such marriage (after exhausting all available options to make it work).
There is the story of a companion of the Prophet who went to the Prophet and explained that she wanted to leave her marriage. As narrated by Ibn Abbas, the wife of Thabit bn Qais came to the Prophet and said ‘’O Allah’s Messenger, I do not blame Thabit for defects in his character or religion, but I, being a Muslim, dislike to behave in an un-Islamic manner (if I remain with him).’’ On that, Allah’s Messenger said (to her) ‘’ will you give back the garden which your husband has given you (as Mahr)?’’ She said ‘’Yes.’’ Then the Prophet said to Thabit,’’ O Thabit! Accept your garden, and divorce her once.’’ [Sahih Bukhari 5273]
Just imagine how simple and seamless that divorce went, this Hadith also deals with the misconception that Islam doesn’t give women the right to leave their partners. Khul’ is the term for the form of divorce initiated by women. Such misconception has no place in Islam and it is the result of patriarchal culture present in some Muslim communities that refuse to let girls learn. Women need to study the Qur’an and Sunnah to educate themselves about their rights and privileges. Islamic or Western scholarship is, and should, not be gender-based. In Al-Mustadrak, a book written by Al-Hakim Al-Nishapuri, the author mentioned that one fourth of the rules of Shariah was narrated on the authority of Aisha bint Abubakr, one of the beloved wives of the Prophet. When a woman learns, she realises that her supposed oppression is man-made.
The decision to stay or leave a marriage, whether abusive or loveless is a very personal one and it should be respected. Some people choose to continue to live with a toxic spouse for the sake of their children and this means sacrificing their happiness for their kids to grow in a safe home (or whatever reason they might have). As laudable as this decision might be, it come with the possibility of your children seeing you become bitter, depressed and a shadow of yourself. On the other hand, some people decide to leave a marriage in which they have fallen out of love, regardless of their kids (if any) and how long the marriage went. Again, the decision is personal and it must be made without any form of societal pressure.