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Trapped in the Prison of My Husband

07 October, 2022
Q As-Salamu Alaykum. Please help me. I want to divorce my husband. I'm far away from home, and have been facing this alone. We are married for about 7 years, having no kids. He is 56 years old and I'm 30. I feel like leaving him and start a new life. I feel being in a prison; I am not allowed to go out or learn more about Islam, though he used to suggest me to learn online. I really want to pray, but I don't know how. I'm sick of asking him to teach me. We always quarrel, he's angry all the time, saying bad things about me like I’m worse than a pig or cursing me. I am so angry at him. I try my best to be a good wife to him, but when he is angry, I feel I wish to hide somewhere. I want to leave him, but I pity him. I can't go back to the country where I used to live as everything is haram there. I would be surrounded by drunks, drug addicts, and prostitutes. I just want to take care myself being a Muslim. Thank you.


Answer by Counselor Nasira Abdel-Aleem:

Dear Sister-In-Islam,

I so respect your desire to pray and learn your religion.

You are on the right path! I also respect your desire and actions to be a good wife; that, too, is the right path.

Furthermore, even though your husband mistreats you, you do not mistreat him.

You are an amazing person and Allah (swt) sees that! Do not believe your husband when he curses you and calls you “worse than pigs”.

You are doing many things that are good according to what Allah (swt) has ordered!

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Your husband, too, may be doing some things right, like supporting his wife.

However, in some other, very serious ways, he does not do what is right in Islam.

It is wrong for a Muslim to curse Muslims. It is wrong for Muslims to call Muslims bad names!

It is even wrong to get angry. In one occasion, the Prophet (SAW) said three times “don’t get angry, don’t get angry, and don’t get angry!”

Let alone to get angry in the way your husband gets angry – cursing you and calling you by names.

But, most of all, it is wrong that he knows that you want to pray, learn how to pray, and learn how to practice your religion, and he does not facilitate it!

He has said to learn it online, but that idea is a facility which suits his condition of imprisonment, and that is a wrong condition for you.

You should not be imprisoned because you have not committed sexual misconduct.

Prayer is one of the first things that will be asked about on the Day of Judgment.

It is our first obligation to Allah (swt) after belief in Allah (swt) as One (and testifying to that belief in front of witnesses).

As such, prayer comes before every other obligation, including marriage!

Thus, if someone’s marriage is getting in the way of their praying or learning their religion so that they can pray and do their other obligatory duties; the obligation to pray comes first, not the marriage!

Remember, prayer is talking to Allah (swt). As such, it is one of the ways in which we relate to Allah (swt).

A relationship with a human being is not as important as that, so it comes after that!

While your character is strong and honorable in the things I mentioned above, you need to add a few more obligatory things to that list.

As you mentioned, you need to pray, and, to do that properly, you need to learn your religion as it is also mandatory in Islam.

Allah (swt) also ordered us to learn our religion so that we could pray properly and practice every aspects of Islam properly.

But there is something else you need to do as it is getting in the way of you praying (which is mandatory): stand up for justice.

In your case, I am referring to standing up to your husband for your rights.

Even though he may get angry and call you bad names, those things he says mean nothing, because they are not true!

While your husband may not think that you are a good person, I do because you have put up with a lot of suffering and still want to obey Allah (SWT) and get close to Him (SWT).

There is no better virtue in this world than that! So, please tap into that same resource that you have for that strength to stand up to your husband and tell him that you have a right not to be imprisoned.

Tell him that you have to pray, that it is obligatory, and to do that, you have to learn your religion.

Tell him that you have to learn the rest of your religion, too, so you can practice it correctly in order to please Allah and to get to Jennah, in sha’ Allah!

Then, as the very last option, if he still does not free you and provide a marital relationship and an environment productive of you praying and learning your religion, and if he does not stop calling you “less than pigs”, you may want to consider divorcing him.

If you decide to divorce your husband, make Istikharah first which is the way that we ask Allah (swt) to help us with any important decision.

Regarding you not wanting to return to your old (prior to marriage) environment because it is not a Muslim environment:

My dear sister in Islam, your husband’s environment hardly sounds any better – but just in a different way.

You have demonstrated that you are a strong person because you have been true to your beliefs and feelings for Allah in the face of great suffering.

I do not think that corruption taking place outside your home can (In Sha’ Allah) easily corrupt you when the corruption that your husband has inflicted on you in your home did not destroy you i.e., it did not arrest your desire to connect with Allah (swt) by obeying Him, praying to him, and being close to Him through prayer and learning!

Dear sister, in your old environment, even if you cannot find one person of like mind, Allah (swt) is enough, In Sha’ Allah! You are suffering now because you do not feel close to Allah (swt) due to not obeying Him.

In your old environment, you would (In Sha’ Allah) be praying and learning about Allah (swt), His Religion, and His Messenger (saw) and his companions.

That closeness to Allah (swt) and His servants would provide you with the company you need to comfort you.

That would counteract the corruption around you. And you probably could find at least one, if not more, people who are of like mind as yourself, In Sha’ Allah, – if you decided to divorce your husband and move back.

May Allah (swt) help you to be strong to face the challenge ahead of you! Ameen.

Answer by Scholar Dr. Wael Shihab:

As-Salamu ‘Alaikum Dear sister,

Thank you for your question, patience, and sincere will to learn your religion, Islam, and to be a practicing Muslimah.

In fact, it’s your husband’s duty to help you learn how to offer prayers (salah).

Offering prayers is the main pillar of Islam. Failing to offer prayers is a grave sin that a true Muslim should avoid.

Your husband is not allowed to emotionally, physically, or mentally abuse or harm you.

If he does insist on harming you in whatever way, it will be your right to seek divorce through the legal channels.

Dear sister, though you have the right to end your marriage relationship if your husband abuses or harms you, you are first advised to try your best to fix your marital problems.

You may seek the help of a local imam, a community leader, an influential family member, or a close friend.

If all efforts to fix your marital problems fail and living with your husband becomes unbearable, then you may go for divorce.

Sister, never lose hope in gaining Allah’s help, mercy, and support. Make du`aa’ to God (swt) to help you lead a happy life based on Islam and its values.

May Allah (swt) Almighty help you lead a good happy life and guide you to the best in this world and the world to come, Ameen.

Allah (swt) Almighty knows best.


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About Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem
Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem, an American, has a BA in English from UC Berkeley and is about to receive an MS degree in counseling psychology (Marriage and Family Therapy - MFT) from the Western Institute for Social Research. For over ten years, Nasira worked as a psychotherapist with the general public and in addiction recovery.For the last few years, she has been a life coach specializing in interpersonal relations. Nasira also consults with her many family members who studied Islam overseas and returned to America to be Imams and teachers of Islam. Muslims often ask Nasira what psychology has to do with Islam. To this, she replies that Islam is the manifestation of a correct understanding of our psychology. Therapists and life coaches help clients figure out how to traverse the path of life as a Believer, i.e., "from darkness into light", based on Islam and given that that path is an obstacle course, according to Allah.