According to the Koran, a woman may divorce her husband under either of two circumstances: 1) if the couple mutually decide to divorce; or 2) if it turns out that the husband is not a believer. The verses pertaining to divorce in the Koran are interpreted in different ways by different countries and, indeed, by different Muslims. Thus, there is variability in divorce laws in Muslim countries. Muslims living outside Muslim countries, of course, must adhere to the divorce law of the land.
- Skill level:
Include a clause allowing you to ask for a divorce in your marriage contract before you marry.
Work through the courts if you are in most Muslim countries. Countries such as Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia and Iran require divorces to go through the legal system in order to be granted. A judge must decide; a man can no longer say "I divorce you" in most Muslim countries and have it be legal.
Return your dowry. If you have been given a dowry upon marriage, many Muslim countries' laws will require you to return it upon divorce. The custom of giving a dowry upon marriage is still done in many places around the Muslim world.
Move out of the house.
Get a lawyer.
File for divorce.
Tips and warnings
- If you live in a place in which there is no law stopping you from divorcing your husband, then you should try not to bow to pressure from your community, or from your families, to stay married if this is not your wish. There is nothing legal standing in your way.
- There is argument over whether or not Islamic law courts should be allowed to operate in the United States and Europe; if these courts were allowed to rule family law cases for Muslim communities, divorce would be much more difficult for a Muslim woman to obtain outside of the Muslim world. If you are in Saudi Arabia, it is very difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce without her husband's consent. In Saudi Arabia, verbalisation of a divorce decree---"I divorce you"---is still legal. In order for a woman to obtain a divorce, she must prove that her husband has been abnormally cruel to her or that he has failed to financially support her. Also in Saudi Arabia, as a woman can be forcibly married, so can she be forcibly divorced, for any number of reasons: illness, failure to bear a son, tribal affiliation or a simple whim of her husband. These things may not all be legal, but they do happen.
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- The Daily Mail: EU Judges Want Sharia Law Applied in British Courts
- Womens' Islamic Initiative in Spirituality & Equality: Separation and Divorce Laws
- The Khaleej Times: In Saudi Arabia, Divorce Can Have Shocking Aspects
- The Huffington Post: Saudi Arabia Rejects Divorce Plea from 8-Year-Old Girl Married to 58-Year-Old Man