The correct procedure for Islamic divorces or marriage dissolutions in non-Muslim countries is a significant topic that has been neglected by many Muslims in non-Muslim states. There are some fundamental details that many Muslims in the UK are unaware of, and as a result, we find many within the Muslim community falling prey to major misunderstandings. Many questions and cases presented to the Islamic Shari’ah Council (or fatwa line) are extremely shocking whereby Muslims fall into major sins and grave blunders due to their ignorance of the different rulings regarding marriage dissolution or divorce. The following points briefly illustrate the ways in which an Islamic marriage comes to an end. Ending a marriage in Islam can take place by one of three main methods:
- Talaq: This form of divorce is the sole right of the husband whereby he pronounces the word divorce, talaq or any other similar word (in any language) to establish a divorce. No one may deprive him of this right given that he has been awarded such a right by God. This right belongs only to the husband and moreover, he does not need the consent or approval of any one, including his wife. Therefore, a woman divorcing her husband is Islamically incorrect and is invalid as a female has no such recourse to such a right, although she may request the conclusion of the marriage through other means. Similarly, an Islamic judge cannot issue a divorce but he can (once being recognised as an Islamic judge) issue a faskh (marriage dissolution).
- Khul’: It is a divorce issued by the husband in exchange of money. It happens when the wife requests her husband to divorce her, but he refuses unless she returns her dowry. Again, it is the right of the husband and is conditional to his approval.
- Faskh; it is a marriage dissolution issued by a judge in response to a request by the wife and normally takes place against the will of the husband. However, the judge has to be appointed either by the leader of the Muslims, or by the Muslim community, or at least recognized as being an Islamic judge by the vast majority of the Muslim community. Merely being an imam neither suffices nor authorises him to dissolve marriages.
“And never will Allah grant to the disbelievers a way (to triumph) over the believers.”