Does Failure to Maintain a Wife Justify Divorce?

21 October, 2016
Q Dear scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. I got married to a person who was not earning and was still a student. It was just a nikah (contract) without walimah (wedding feast). A week after the wedding, I came alone to Canada for my studies and it’s been almost two years since then and my husband is still struggling to clear his failed exams. My parents are worried about my future and spend sleepless nights. Will I be committing a sin if I seek divorce and intend to marry someone else? Is it a valid reason to separate from him because he doesn’t earn and is not able to take care of me? Please, help me take a better decision.


Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear sister in Islam, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us. We implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work sincere for His sake.

Spouses who face marital problems should save no effort in maintaining their life, especially if they have kids. However, after exerting all possible efforts and being sure that they cannot continue and that their marital life has come to an end, they may resort to divorce.

In your own case, you should do that first and consult trustworthy member family to support and help you take the right decision.

In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states,

In Islamو it is the duty of the husband to provide for his wife and children. Allah says, “Men are the protectors of women, because of what (strength) Allah has given the one more than the other, and because of what they spend of their property (to maintain them)….” (An-Nisaa’ 4:34) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) further stated, “There is no sin worse than neglecting to take care of one’s family!” (Muslim)

If, therefore, your husband has consistently failed in taking care of you and providing support for you, then you have a right to seek divorce from him. But, at the same, since of all permitted things divorce is the most abominable act in the sight of Allah, we are advised against it unless and until we have exhausted all the means of reconciliation through counseling and arbitration.

So, don’t embark on divorce before involving the wise people from the community such as imams or other leaders acceptable to both of you to listen to your complaint and advise him to live up to his covenant of marriage. Should he still fail to live up to his commitment, then you are free to resort to divorce and part ways with him.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: