Valid Reasons for a Wife to Seek Divorce.
Q: If a woman asks her husband to divorce her for no reason and he rejects her request, would he be sinful for that?
Shaykh ibn Bāz: if she does not have a reason, he is not obliged to divorce her. However, he should endeavour to establish a harmonious, loving relationship, and also eliminate whatever may lead to a divorce; because she may actually have reasons, so he should take this into consideration. Her reason maybe: his bad character, e.g. miserliness or staying up all night and arriving home late, or she may have other reasons. So he should take that into consideration and fear Allah so that he fulfils her rights.
As for the wife, it is not permissible for her to ask her husband to divorce her unless there is a justification. He ﷺ said: “Any woman who asks her husband to divorce her, without being a victim of mistreatment from him, will not smell the fragrance of Paradise”. This is a stern threat! So it is obligatory that she lives amicably with her husband, and listens and obeys him in what is good; and not ask him for a divorce unless there is a justification. If she has a justification, then there is nothing wrong in that, e.g. it maybe that he is miserly and does not fulfil his responsibilities towards her or he is an excessive sinner e.g. a drunkard or the likes of that, or he regularly stays up all night and neglects her or the likes of that; this is a valid excuse – or it maybe that she hates him; Allah did not put in her heart love for him. She hates him considerably and so cannot fulfil her responsibilities towards him. In this situation, there is nothing wrong if she requests a divorce, as she will then not be sinful for not fulfilling her responsibilities towards him.
If she asks her husband for a divorce, she must then return her dowry to him. If her motive for wanting a divorce is that she hates him, she must return what he gave her as a dowry. As for if the justification is on his part, such as he does not fulfil his responsibilities towards her; he is stingy in fulfilling her rights, e.g. he stays up all night and does not see to her except when he is tired in the late hours of the night or he consumes alcohol or he does not pray or the likes of
this, then she has an excuse to request a divorce. If he refuses to divorce her, she has the right to take him to an Islamic court so that the court can look into their issue. If it is that he does not pray, she has no right to remain with him because abandoning Salāt is disbelief. Abandoning Salāt is disbelief in Allah because it is the pillar of the religion. So if the husband has abandon Salāt, she then has a valid excuse to separate from him; and it is not permissible for her to remain with him until he repents to Allah from that – due to the statement of the Prophet ﷺ: “The covenant that is between us and them [disbelievers] is Salāt. Whoever abandons Salāt has disbelieved”. And his statement ﷺ: “The head of the affair is Islam and its pillar is Salāt” and he said ﷺ: “Between a man and disbelief and shirk is abandoning Salāt”. The issue of Salāt is tremendous. It is the pillar of Islam and the first thing from the worshipper’s actions that he will be questioned about on the day of Judgement. So it is obligatory upon every believer, man and woman, and everyone who professes Islam to fear Allah and ensure that they prays the five daily prayers at their appointed time and that they pray them in congregation with the Muslims in the Mosques because to leave off praying in the Mosques is a sin. Praying at home [without a legislated excuse] is a sin but not disbelief. However, to leave Salāt totally and not pray, this is disbelief; even if he does not deny that it is obligatory to pray – according to the more accurate of the two opinions among the scholars. As for he who denies that praying Salāt is obligatory, he has disbelieved according to the consensus of the Muslims. He who denies that it is obligatory to Pray or fast the month of Ramaḍān or pay Zakāt or the likes of that from the things that are known in the religion by necessity, such a person is a disbeliever.
We ask Allah to protect us from this.