FAQs & Fatwas Spouse

Divorce Under Duress?

The Question:

There were some recent problems between my wife and I. Due to a physical threat from one of her family members, I was forced to divorce her. I love her greatly and I did not intend to divorce her. I was under duress and direct physical threat. Is the divorce valid?

The Answer:

The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) said, “An action done under duress is forgiven from my community.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) says, “Whoever disbelieves in Allah after his belief, except for one who is forced [to renounce his religion] while his heart is secure in faith. But those who [willingly] open their breasts to disbelief, upon them is wrath from Allah, and for them is a great punishment” (Qur’an, 16:106).

Some scholars used this verse and the hadith above to prove that a divorce under duress is not acceptable. This was the opinion of ‘Ata who said, “Associating partners with God is worse than divorce.” Al-Shaf`i said, “Allah overlooks the action of disbelief if done under duress, removing the rulings associated with it. This means that an act less severe than disbelief would also be overlooked because if the greater sin is forgiven, the lesser one is by default.”

If the case is as you mentioned above, then there was no Islamic divorce.

Allah knows best.

Suhaib Webb

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • Ya Shaykh Jazak Allah khayr for the answer,

    How about the situation where I realize that I do indeed love my wife but she apparently and her family does not want me to be married with her anymore and hate me. We even had a still birth. I love her deeply. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. In fact they did unilaterally go to court and did the Government law court divorce uncontested and now ask me to sign Khula? I am under immense duress with this situation. No force involved yet. I know only Allah could change hearts of people and I don’t want to live like another Mughith RA. I do forgive her and her all relatives on my account on day of judgment and repent on my mistakes (read al Kibr, astaghfirullah and because I have what they call bipolar disorder, wa la iyadobillah) but want to know if this divorce they are asking and community members are communicating me with. I would really appreciate if you could give your counsel.

    • Salams, I am sorry your heart is broken but you can divorce her without her wanting to divorce you the same goes for women. We have rights too and you cannot force a woman to stay married to you just because you love her. Also why be married to someone who clearly does not want to be with you. That is not how you love someone. If you really love her you want her to be happy even if that is without you.

  • Shaykh- you might want to clarify the nature of the ‘threat’ and the other relevant circumstances described before issuing the fatwa- though I assume you have this post should make it more clear.

    Jazak Allahu khayr.

    • As,

      Shukran for that nasiha. That was done and the case was looked into. I felt, since some of the issues get sticky, it was better not to mention them here.


  • As salamu alaykum,

    I am really sorry about the image you chose for this post, it is really scary. I know the post too, but it really took my eye the picture, sends an extremely negative message.


  • how about a wrong action but it was done because of Emotional threat..? emotional as in someone who has kind of manipulated u and scared u because thy have not threatened directly but they did make u do something with considerable force yet you are sure it could turn into threat if u disagree. but u know that they are physically powerful so in a situation where they could harm u so u go along with it but without the heart?

  • Salaam Alaiykum akhi Suhaib, may Allah reward you double and guide you triple. I was wondering if I could have your opinion on an issue…may take up some time and space too but I expect the necessary dalail for your fatwa on the matter.

    I am married to my cousin since july’09 mostly for the sake of my parents. They brought it up and I dint go say I want to marry her. WAllahi, I really do like her and have love and care for her now but I want to exercise my right as a human and as a muslim and mumin to marry another woman who is preferably in need (divorced/widowed). My wife after some time has finally accepted to it willingly or unwillingly, but the problem isnt her, its my parents.
    I work for my dad’s company and live with them too and they are slightly against the fact that my cousin would have to share me. Now I know the hadith which I state in my own words: where Ibn Umar (r.a) was told by RasoolAllah (p.b.u.h) that it would have been better if he has obeyed his father Umar (r.a) when he stopped his son to take another wife in marriage. (i am sorry for not providing the reference but in case you are not aware I can check and let you know) the above hadith if saheeh or hassan does indicate that it is not wajib and fardh to follow the parent’s decision in terms of marriage? though even if it is not wajib I would still want them to not object to it, if not approve of it and then I would go forward with it.
    Anyhow, currently I am avoiding intercourse with my wife just to assess my own condition..though i am not angry/upset with my wife as such..but she cannot be perfect and there is no real spiritual connection between us our relationship is mostly a physical one, she is a young girl and I feel she is slightly immature for me (I am 4 years ahead of her).

    Firstly, there have been alleged claims by this one man (ex-employee) that I am under some kind of magic where I can not produce kids and I don’t use condoms or azl etc and neither do I have kids. My aqeedah is that if I am under magic it is only with the Izn(permission) of Allah and magic in itself cant do anything or it is a test that I dont have a kid now, or maybe it is Al-Qadr that I will not have a kid from the first wife or any woman at all…in this uncertain case is it permissible to marry another woman?

    Secondly, If my parents still remain stubborn to allow me to have another wife, I would really like to seperate/let go off my wife (not just in reaction but a few reasons present for this). Hence, I am avoiding sex with her to assess whether I could really go on without it and curb the urge without taking haram outlets.

    Lastly, If i put it plain and simple, I’d like another wife or I’d like to be single is that okay? but the only thing i fear is that they would be disobeyed in both the conditions.

    May Allah give you the best of your ability to answer the question which indeed is tricky thus i havent acted yet.

    May Allah forgive me for not explaining the maslah(issue) to the truest and best of the situation itself.

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