Sheikh `Abd Allah Nâsir al-Sulamî, professor at the Higher Juridical Institute
If a woman hates her husband and cannot live with him any more due to his bad manners or due to his lack of performance of his religious duties, or if she feels that she can not fulfill her duties towards him, or if he treats her improperly, causing continuous baseless disputes for her, or fails to provide her with necessary food, clothing or accommodation, or if he is impotent, unjust to his wives in a polygamous situation, or does not fulfill his obligations according to their marriage contract, then she can redeem herself by refunding the dowry already paid by her husband upon marriage so that she can be freed.
The lawfulness of such an act is mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Allah says: “If you indeed fear that they will not be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah, there is no blame on either of them if she gives something for her freedom.”
Ibn `Abbâs said: “The wife of Thâbit b.Qays came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not dishonor his morals or his religion but I do not like any act of disbelief in Islam.' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'Would you return to him his garden?' She said: 'Yes.' The Prophet (peace be upon him) then told Thâbit: 'Take over your garden” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
This woman requested to be separated from her husband to avoid any failure in her duties towards him because she hated him.
Therefore, if a woman requests her husband to divorce her and he refuses and requests her to redeem herself, then we could be facing a matter where the husband is purposely abusing his wife and denying her the rights that she is entitled to in order to make her refund the dowry he has already paid her. This behavior is unlawful to him and he is sinful for doing so, but if he takes what he had paid her, then it is a lawful khul` (final separation) and the husband is still sinful. What he should do is leave her the money and divorce her.
However, if the husband did not do any harm to his wife and the woman wants the divorce for any other reason than those we already mentioned, then the husband should still willingly divorce her, and he will be rewarded for that, but if he refuses, she can redeem herself.
At that time she has to give back his money then she can have the khul` by decree of an Islamic judge or relevant Islamic authority in your area.
It is lawful that the man issues one divorce only, but it is better if he pronounces khul` and not divorce. Khul` means "termination", so the woman in this case only has to wait for one menstrual period after khul`. During this time, the husband cannot take her back before she becomes totally free and can marry someone else.
If she wants to go back to her husband at a later date and he wants that too, they can remarry with a new marriage contract and a new dowry if they believe they can keep the limits ordained by Allah.
And Allah knows best.
Source: Islam Today