Many people are surprised to learn that divorce is allowed in Islam. After all, Islam is so strict and rigid in many ways, why would divorce be allowed?
Marriage is Allah's gift to mankind. It offers peace and security, physical pleasure and children. Marriage is meant to nurture the soul. While no one is happy all the time, marriage in general should bring happiness and fulfillment to both parties. Marriage is the center of the family, and also its thermometer. When the marriage is strong, the family flourishes. When it is weak, however, the entire family suffers.
Allah, in His infinite, wisdom, recognized that some people would be ill-suited for one another. Rather than force them to live together in a farce of a marriage, divorce is allowed. However, divorce is not something to be taken lightly; it is to be used as a last resort. In fact, getting a divorce without a valid reason is considered a sin. In a hadith reported by Abu Dawud, Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said, "Among lawful things, divorce is most hated by Allah."
What are Valid Reasons?
Although the phrase "irreconcilable differences" is overused in our culture, those are the only
differences that would necessitate a divorce. If there is hope of reconciliation, you must seek that first. Divorce should not even be considered until all positive avenues have been explored. Only problems that cause such anger, bitterness, and hatred that marriage becomes impossible should lead to divorce.
Obviously, that could vary from person to person and marriage to marriage. Clearly, though, petty differences or boredom are not legitimate grounds. Most marriages do have moments of boredom, where the spark has gone. That is just motivation to spice things up! Running away and destroying a family will not solve that problem.
Infidelity, on the other hand, could definitely be a breaking point for many people, although many couples have managed to survive an affair. Abuse of any kind is certainly cause for divorce, unless the abuser enters a treatment program and fully repents. Refusal of one spouse to fulfill his or her marital duties could be a legitimate cause for divorce. For example, if a husband refuses to work and support the family, the wife would be justified in seeking a divorce if all efforts to change his mind have failed. Likewise, a wife who refuses to share the marital bed could likely find herself divorced, barring medical problems.
In all cases, marital harmony should be attempted. If all efforts have been made to restore happiness and peace, then you may seek divorce.