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Divorcing wife at parents’ behest

Published: 24/08/2011 06:57:00 PM GMT
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I married my cousin who is a divorcee and older than me by four years. I married her for her good religious character. She has nothing of worldly possessions that anyone could covet. My father and mother are very angry with me and refuse to allow me to see them or to even enter their home. They say that they will never condone what I have done, on account of my marrying a woman who is older than me and a divorcee. Am I sinful and am I a disobedient son by refusing to divorce her?

Answered by

Sheikh Sulaymân al-`Isâ, professor at al-Imâm University in Riyadh

If you had asked this question before marrying the woman, then we would have told you to rather abstain from marrying this woman and comply with your parents’ wishes. However, since you are already married and did so for the sake of her religion, then you do not have to divorce her, since your parents have no valid reason to demand from you that you do so.

They mention no fault in her religion or her character. They only fault her that she is not a virgin and that she is older than you by four years. These are not faults and they do not warrant divorce.

It is not part of a man’s honoring his parents that he divorces his wife without an Islamically justifiable reason.

As for the hadîth of Ibn `Umar when his father demanded that he divorce his wife, we need to understand it.

Ibn `Umar relates: I was married to a woman whom I loved. However, my father disliked her and ordered me to divorce her. I refused and mentioned the matter to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He said: “O `Abd Allah b. `Umar, divorce your wife.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (1189), Sunan Abî Dâwûd (5138), Sunan Ibn Mâjah (2088) and Musnad Ahmad (4991)]

Ibn Muflih writes in al-Adâb al-Shar`iyyah (1/503):

It is not obligatory on a man to divorce his wife out of obedience to his parents. If his father orders him to divorce his wife, he does not have to do so. This has been mentioned by most of the senior students (of Ahmad).

Al-Sindî relates that a man told Ahmad: “My father orders me to divorce my wife.”

Ahmad relied: “Do not divorce her.” – meaning: “Do not divorce her on account of your father’s orders until your father becomes like `Umar in ascertaining what is true and just and in not merely following his personal inclinations in such matters.”

…Whoever is ordered by his mother to divorce his wife is not allowed to do so. Indeed, he must honor his mother, but divorcing his wife is not part of honoring his mother.

Al-Bahûtî writes in Kashhâf al-Qunnâ` (5/233):

A man does not have to divorce his wife if his father orders him to do so. He is not required to obey his father when it comes to divorce, since he is being ordered to do something that is not in agreement with Islamic dictates.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

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