The Position of A Woman Who Divorces Her Husband
Frederic Leighton's oil painting “Wedded,” 1882
Any woman who asks her husband for a divorce with no good reason will be deprived of even smelling the scent of paradise. (Reported by Tirmidhi, 2/329, abwab al-talaq, 11; Ibn Hibban, 9/490, Kitab al-nikah, bab ma'ashirah al-zawjayn)
Firstly, the Qur’an explicitly describes the conditions and rules that apply for spouses to divorce one another (This will be discussed in detail in due course). God recognizes the right to divorce of both sides. Yet there are no statements regarding a woman who divorces her husband being unable to enter Paradise as in the above false hadith. This is manifest proof that the hadith is entirely fabricated. There can be no question of our Prophet (pbuh) making unlawful something that God has made lawful and bringing in a commandment that is the exact opposite of what God commands. Therefore, in the event that a woman wishes to divorce, God bestows that freedom on her in the Qur’an. The conditions for divorce are revealed in verses that contain countless precautions intended to protect the woman, materially and psychologically, both before and after divorce. Therefore, the statement that a woman who asks her husband for a divorce “will be deprived of even smelling the scent of paradise” is totally false and defamatory. It is the product of a devilish logic that has nothing to do with Islam.
It is highly important to note that Islam consists of Divine pronouncements, the word of God, that fully address human nature and the human mind and soul. All the verses in the Qur’an contain pronouncements that lift difficulties from people, prevent oppressive practices, ensure that a person’s free will and mind are involved and are in complete agreement with human nature. None of these pronouncements impose any difficulties on men or women. On the contrary, they resolve disagreements, injustices and inequalities among people. They lift the heavy chains from them. They ease people’s souls. They establish bonds of love and friendship, rather than enmity and hatred. Most important of all, they permit the emergence of a noble and virtuous human model bound to God in complete submission to Him.
Yet the model of marriage that appears in the false hadiths in question reflects a conception far outside the moral values of the Qur’an. According to the Qur’an, there can be no compulsion or coercion between married couples. If a disagreement arises, it is to be corrected through the commandments of the Qur’an. The most important thing is for both parties to the marriage to abide completely by the moral values of the Qur’an and to strive to resolve their differences as much as possible. If incompatibility should persist, however, then both sides have the right to divorce.
It is also revealed in a verse that in the event of divorce both sides will be under the protection of God:
If a couple do separate, God will enrich each of them from His boundless wealth. God is All-Encompassing, All-Wise. (Qur'an, 4:130)
As we have seen, in the Qur’an, after a man and a woman decide to divorce of their own free will they continue to live freely. There is not a single verse in the Qur’an to suggest that a woman cannot enter paradise if she divorces her husband.
A Woman Being Regarded as a Sinner until Her Husband Is Pleased with Her
John William Godward's oil painting “Dolce Far Niente,” 1889
According to the Qur'an, the man and the woman in a marriage must both be select, noble and virtuous people who fear God. That is the basis of marriage in the Qur'an.
A woman who hurts her husband will be under the curse of God until she makes him contented. (R. Nasihin)
She who does not observe the rights of her husband will have failed to observe the rights of God. (Shir’a)
There are three people whose prayers will not be accepted, neither their good works: … a woman whose husband is angry with her, until he is pleased with her again … (Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, 12/178, Kitab al-ashribah, 2, fasl fi'l-ashribah)
The references in the above fabricated hadiths to women “... failing to please their husbands or not observing their rights” are again in blatant opposition to the verses of the Qur’an. If a Muslim woman behaves toward her husband in a manner that is not compatible with the moral values of the Qur’an, then she loses God’s approval, not that of her husband; what truly matters for a Muslim is the loss of God’s approval. For that reason, the important thing for a Muslim is not the approval of his or her spouse, but that of God. So according to the Qur’an, once a Muslim woman has made good her error and earned the approval of God, it is of no importance to her whether her husband or anyone else approves of her. Indeed, if the other person has a Muslim nature, he will naturally be pleased with this state of affairs as that will be pleasing to God.
However, the general perspective of these false hadiths is strikingly reminiscent of marriages from the Time of Ignorance, based entirely on polytheism, rather than on God and the commandments of the Qur’an. As we have already said, a married man and woman in the Qur’an are select people who fear God, and who possess noble and superior moral values. That is what marriage is based on in the Qur’an. So long as they remain married, their feelings of love, affection, respect, compassion and loyalty to one another grow stronger all the time.
God reveals in the Qur’an that love, compassion, modesty and tranquility must all be present together in marriage:
Among His signs is that He created spouses for you of your own kind so that you might find tranquility in them. And He has placed affection and compassion between you. There are certainly signs in that for people who reflect. (Qur'an, 30:21)
There are thus enormous differences between the model of marriage set out in the false hadiths with its conflicts, intense disputes, belittlement and humiliating actions, and the model of marriage in the Qur’an.
It must not be forgotten that in Islam, goodness is shown, not for the hope of reward from other people, but for the approval of God, and Muslims hope for a recompense for their good deeds from God alone. God reveals that morality as follows in a verse:
those who give their wealth to purify themselves – not to repay someone else for a favor done – desiring only the Face of their Lord Most High. They will certainly be satisfied. (Qur'an, 92:18-21)
Therefore, according to the Qur’an, a woman will try to please only God and give thanks to Him and will desire His approval. Her only Lord is our Almighty Lord, not her husband. A mentality that tells women to engage in all sorts of horrible actions in order to repay her husband therefore stands in total opposition to the Qur’an.