Woman Wants to File for Khul`

Someone divorced his wife and after a few weeks he revoked the divorce. Now, she wants to file for Khul`, although he promised her he would not make the same mistakes with her again. Earlier, he had not given maintenance or due care to the family, and she had to pay for everything. She does not want to continue living with him, and she wants to know: Does her husband have the right not to grant her khul`?

Basically, the husband has to provide for his wife. If she requests khul` (divorce on the request of the wife in return for the marriage dowry), while he provides for her, then he may or may not accept to give it to her, as believed by the majority of Muslim scholars. To illustrate, the husband is not obligated to accept a woman’s request for khul`, but he is recommended to accept it if his wife requests it, and he should not hold her within the wedlock against her own will. Thus, if she insists on requesting khul`, the judge shall intervene to identify whether it is the husband or the wife who has caused the discord. To that end, the judge shall appoint two arbitrators to investigate the case. Allah, Exalted be He, says, {Appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family and the other from her family; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation} [An-Nisa’: 35]. Accordingly, the appointment of the two arbitrators is an important issue in Shari`ah. If it is found out that the reasons of the quarrel are wholly on the part of the husband, then divorce shall be effected; if it is on the part of the wife, she will be demanded to adhere to good marital practices. However, if no reconciliation could be reached, the judge shall request the husband to accept khul`. The majority view states that acceptance of khul` is not obligatory. In this respect, there is a hadith indicating that Thabit Ibn Qays was ordered by the Prophet (peace be upon him) to divorce his wife upon her request for khul`. The Prophet asked the wife, “Will you give him back his garden (transferred to her as the marriage dowry)?” She replied, “Yes!” The Prophet then told the husband to divorce her [Sahih Al-Bukhari, 5273]. This hadith implies preferability, not obligation.