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Can Muslim Men Divorce As Often As They Want?

10 March, 2017
Q Is it allowed for a Muslim man to marry and divorce as often as he wants?


Salam (Peace) Benjamin, 

Thank you for bringing up such an important subject. 

Islam made divorce an accessible right for both men and women, but with different details. Therefore, your question about opening up one’s life to endless marriages and divorces is not confined only to men, but to women as well. 

This is not a given right to Muslim men and women alone, but to all who live under different legal systems.

Even Hollywood superstars – men and women – do take as many husbands and wives as they simply want, throughout their lives.

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Thus, the question now is not that of who has this right of marrying and divorcing, but rather how to use this right in a mature and responsible way. 

According to all religions and philosophies, since Plato in his Republic, passing by Aristotle in his Ethics, up till now there are two ultimate ends for the human being’s life. These are namely virtue and delight, which means happiness

Islam, through its different rulings, aims at granting these two ends to its holders in a balanced way, so that no end should transgress the limits of the other end. 

Over-restriction of divorce destroys the first end, that of virtue. This is as an unhappy, forced marriage leads in most cases to marital infidelity, which is not accepted in Islam under any circumstances. 

It also destroys the other end, that of happiness. This is as love and mercy are viewed in Islam to be the two basic pillars of a marital life.

{And among His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may dwell together, and He made between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.} (Quran 30:21)

In fact, the accessibility of divorce to both men and women makes the Islamic law one of the most practical and realistic legal systems. 

What is worth noting here is that although divorce was made accessible, it has been narrowed and presented as the last option, after exhausting all possible means of reconciliation.

In order to discourage men from taking such decision, Allah says:

{O you who believe! it is not lawful for you that you should take women as heritage against [their] will, and do not straiten them in order that you may take part of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of manifest indecency, and treat them kindly; then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it.} (Quran 4:19)

This is the wonderful balanced strategy of the Islamic law, in dealing with people’s issues and meeting their needs half way. 

As for those you are asking about, who abuse this right by marrying and divorcing “as often as they want”, God would not have denied such a right, which facilitates people’s lives in major and important stages, just because a few of them tend to abuse it.

Nor would He have denied it because some use it to serve unethical and dishonest purposes. 

Realizing how merciful the availability of divorce is – to a miserably married couple – it becomes ivory-towered to talk about rejecting it, just because some people, men or even women, abuse this right.

In fact, every issue in life has both its positive and negative sides. In some parts of the world, for example, mothers – out of poverty – give birth to children with the intention of selling them to rich people!

Is this enough reason to incriminate birth giving?! Or, can we ever abolish money because some people use it in illegal transactions? 

Dear Benjamin, it all depends on piety and God-consciousness in dealing with different aspects of life. Here, in this very point, appears people’s need for the continuous religious education.

This is in order to enlighten them about how harmful some practices and violation of others’ rights that only satisfy one’s need or pleasure can be. It can even lead the whole society into moral chaos. 

I do believe that it is only religion that is capable of elevating people above their selfish nature and animal desires, taking them into a spiritual state of balance and self-restraint.

In fact, the Islamic instruction in this context came centuries before the other secular philosophies. Existentialism for instance, is an example that calls for responsibility and commitment towards those who share their lives with us. 

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says: 

None of you is a believer till he likes for his brother what he likes for himself. (Reported by Muslim.) 

This is only one hadith among many other sayings by the messenger, which teach us how to struggle against egotistic inclinations and an individualistic approach of life.

These are to be fought because they simply seek satisfaction of desires, at the expense of other people’s rights, either in marriage or any other aspect of life. 

Thank you and may God bless you. 

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Why is Divorce on the Rise among US Muslims?

Want a Lifelong Marriage? Get Pre-Marital Counseling!