Short Answer: Muslim women are not only allowed to leave an abusive marriage, but they are supposed to refuse to tolerate an abusive husband. Islam doesn’t even force a woman to marry/remain married to someone she doesn’t approve of.
Salam Alaykum dear reader,
Thank you for this question.
To answer your question, no, not at all, Islam doesn’t force a woman to remain with an abusive husband.
Islam doesn’t even force a woman to marry/remain married to someone she doesn’t approve of.
Proof: The Divorce of Thabit bin Qais
Consider the following hadith.
It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the wife of Thabit bin Qais came to the Prophet and said:
O Messenger of Allah, I do not find any fault with Thabit bin Qais regarding his attitude or religious commitment, but I hate Kufr after becoming Muslim.” The Messenger of Allah said: “Will you give him back his garden?” She said: “Yes.” The Messenger of Allah said: “Take back the garden and divorce her once. [ Sunan an-Nasa’i]
Basically, there was nothing wrong with the husband of this woman, but she simply didn’t feel like she wants to continue to be married to him. She was worried those feelings would grow and negatively affect her own religious commitment.
So, without questions asked and without argumentation or any attempt to make her reconsider leaving a man who has no fault on him, the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) simply granted her the divorce.
Now, do you think the laws of Islam would allow a woman to divorce a man simply because she doesn’t feel like it anymore, but force her to remain married to an abusive man who is defying the laws and teachings of Islam by mistreating his wife?
Prophet Muhammad: The Model Muslim Husband
He (peace and blessings upon him) said:
“The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” [Sunan ibn Majah]
And in another hadith, Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
Take my advice with regard to women: Act kindly towards women… [Al Bukhari and Muslim]
And also learn, sister, that the Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) said as narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:
O Allah, bear witness that I have issued a warning concerning (failure to fulfill) the rights of the two weak ones: Orphans and women. [Sunan Ibn Majah]
So, this is Islam, and this is Islam’s role model. Allah Almighty doesn’t approve of transgression.
Allah Made Oppression of Oneself Unlawful
Abu Dharr (RAA) quoted the Prophet in a hadith qudsi (a direct statement of Allah through his Prophet) as saying:
Oh my slaves, I have made oppression unlawful for myself and I have made it unlawful among you, so do not oppress one another. [Related by Muslim]
Likewise, Anas ibn Malik reported that The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
‘Support your brother whether he is an oppressor or is being oppressed.’ It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, we help the one being oppressed but how do we help an oppressor?” The Prophet said, ‘By seizing his hand.’
In another narration, the Prophet said,
By restraining him or preventing him from committing injustice, for that is how you support him. [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2312, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2584]
Accordingly, Muslim women are not only allowed to leave an abusive marriage, but they are supposed to refuse to tolerate an abusive husband.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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