Maulana Waheedduddin Khan’s stance on divorce; An appraisal


By Neelofar Rafeeq

The security of marital life and the bond of the relationships between two spouses are highly valued in Islam. When a marriage fails, divorce is the last option. One of Allah’s blessings is marriage. At the same time, dvorce is only option when marital peace is no longer conceivable. Though divorce is not completely forbidden in Islam; however, Islam has maintained this departure door open in times of dire need only. That is to say, Divorce is the last resort for a married couple in Islam to resolve their issues. When compared to physical abuse or adultery by a spouse, Divorce is unquestionably the lesser of the two evils. Many people, however, are ignorant of the negative implications of Divorce.


A number of Muslim scholars, from past to present, have wrttien on this sissue from different perspectives: religious, socio-legal, etc. One prominent contemporary  scholar from India, who contributed immensely on the women issues is Maulana Wahiduddin Khan (d. 2021).

Maulana Khan was a noted Islamic scholar, scholastic theologian, philosopher, writer, and peace activist and writer. He has come up with his own, in some ways unique, interpretation of Islam and its position in the modern world. He has written over 200 books on vried dimesnions of Islam  including   women and  discussed many issues regarding women. He also briefly addressed the issue of Divorce, which is the most discussed and debatable issue in the modern world.

This essay, in this context, attempts to analyze the divorce case briefly and looks into different aspects of divorce and its reasons. It also examines how Maulana Khan discusses and analyses the issue of divorce in his books. In brief, this study aims to investigate his viewpoints on divorce according to the Quran and Sunnah.

Contextualizing the Discussion

A Muslim lady has the option of approving or annulling her marriage. According to Islamic law, marriage is a civil contract established on the free consent of the two contractual parties. According to Islamic law, there is no distinction between man and woman in this regard. A Muslim lady is not allowed to marry anyone against her will. Her parents can’t make her do anything. The connection between husband and wife is interdependence between two equally important people, not one of enslaver and enslaved person. According to her will, she is free to own property and dispose of it independently of her parents or husband. Again, it is the man alone who has several responsibilities for the family, the children, and parents and has to shoulder all the financial duties of his family. Anything which is earned by the wife becomes her own property. She can contribute to the family needs only if she so wishes. The provision of divorce in Islamic law makes marriage terminable by the will of either party in case the couple finds themselves in a state of perpetual conflict beyond any hope of reconciliation. Although Islam has approved of divorce, measures have been taken to avoid it as far as possible. As said by Prophet Muhammad: “Of all the lawful acts, the most detestable to Allah is divorce.

The foundational principles of Islam are based upon justice and rectification, and upon this basis, Islam has permitted divorce in cases of helplessness. The meaning of this is that if there remains no chance of accommodation between husband and wife, they may release each other through a divorce. Divorce is a controversial subject. On the one hand, it can not be denied that the dissolution of marriage brings about the disintegration of family life with consequent uncertainty and unhappiness for children born of the wedding, but on the other side. It must also be admitted that divorce is clearly desirable when the spouses can no longer live in harmony and have lost mutual respect. The continuance of an unhappy marriage breeds hate and disgust and is likely to ruin the lives of the parties involved or at least one of them. Islam takes a realistic and sympathetic view of human affairs, and therefore it attaches great importance to the happiness of both spouses.

Divorce in the light of Quṝan and Sunnah

With its realistic and practical outlook on all human affairs, Islam recognizes divorce but only as a necessary evil, inevitable in certain circumstances. Islam indeed allowed divorce in need and pointed out that it is not a desirable act but rather one of the most undesirable acts in the sight of Allah. Therefore, recourse should be had only when compelled by circumstances beyond control. Abdullah Ibn e Umar reports the Prophet ﷺ said: “Of all the lawful acts, the most detestable to Allah is divorce,” It is also mentioned several times in the Quran about divorce, especially the whole chapter in the Quran deals with divorce, which is chapter 64 of the Quran surah al Talaq.

Wahidudin khan’s views on Divorce
Maulana Wahidudin khan (1 January 1925-21April 2021) was an Indian Islamic scholar and academic theologian. He had written 200 hundred books. He has also written books on Muslim women .he also discussed various issues confronting Muslim women. His famous books on women are Women between Islam and Western society, Women in Islamic Shariah, and Awrat may mark Insaniyaat. Women’s issues are the most discussed and debatable in the modern world. The challenges and issues which women confront today are discussed in these books. The book Women between Islam and western society deals with all aspects of issues related to women.
When a man and a woman tie the knot of marriage, they cherish the hope of spending the rest of their lives together. As a result, nature blesses their union with a child, strengthening the marriage bond and ensuring its increased depth and permanence Men and women are obligated by nature to dwell together. Islam regards marriage as an essential institution hence marriage is the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ, and the rule of life and divorce is possible only as an exception to that rule.

According to Hadith, the prophet ﷺ said, “Marriage is one of my Sunnah (way). One who doesn’t follow it does not belong to me.

Prophetﷺ said, “Of all permitted things, divorce is the most hateful in the sight of God.”

It is only natural for a man and a woman to have differences when they live together in the same family as husband and wife; it is a psychological fact that each man and woman born into this world is quite different by their very nature. That is why the only method of having unity in this world is to live unitedly despite differences. This can be achieved only through patience(sabr) and tolerance, encouraged by the Prophet not only in a general sense but, more significantly, in the married life Without these qualities, there can be no stability in the bond of marriage.
the Hadith of Abu Hurairah, in which The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said,
“No believing man should bear any complaint against a believing woman. If one of her ways is not to his liking, there must be many things about her that would please him.”

It is a believed fact that everyone has his strengths and his flaws. Everyone has either some good qualities or some bad qualities. In a martial condition, the best policy is for each partner to focus on the plus points of the other while ignoring the negative points. If the husband and wife cam understand the value of each other and adopt consciously the main guiding principles in their life, they will have a far better chance of their marriage remaining stable. However, it sometimes happens, with or without reason, that disagreeableness crops up and goes on increasing between husband and wife, with no apparent indication of their being able to smooth things out by themselves. Their thinking about each other in a way that is conditioned by their maladjustment prevents them from arriving at a just settlement of their differences based on facts rather than on opinions. In such a case, according to the Quran, the best policy is to introduce a third party who will act as a mediator. Not having any previous memory with the matters under dispute, he will remain detached and will be able to arrive at an objective decision suitable to both parties.

Wahidudin khan said in his book that there are two ways of divorce which are briefly discussed in the Quran, and there is a specific method for separation. The Qur’an expresses it thus

“Divorce may be announced twice, and then a woman must be retained in honorably or released with kindness.”

This verse has been understood to mean that if a man who has given twice announcement of the divorce over a period of two months should always remember God before giving notice a third time. Then if he wants he should either keep his spouse with him in a spirit of goodwill, or he should discharge her without doing her any injustice. This is the method of divorce that is prescribed in the Quran, i.e., taking three months to finalize it, makes it unbearable for a man seeking divorce suddenly to cast his wife aside.Different jurists regarding divorce in Islam hold different views. Some believe that divorce is prohibited, but it is permissible only in case of necessity. It is mentioned in Al Radd al -Muhtᾱr, dealing with the Hanafi Islamic law, that there is no doubt that divorce is forbidden, but it becomes permitted for specific outside reasons. It is only permissible for release from marital ties in some instances. Imam Abu Hanifa, believes that if a Man pronounces Talaq three times in one sitting, they will be considered as three, and Talaq will be valid . But Moulana wahidudin khan discusses that if a man intends to divorce his wife, he can divorce her in three separate periods in the state of purity. But the divorce, which man pronounces in a single sitting in three utterances is a misuse of shariah laws and is a grave sin.

However, they regard the exercise of the power without any cause to be morally or religiously abominable.
Though, to some extent husband’s exclusive power to divorce was retained in Islam with some restrictions. At the same time wife is also given specific authority to divorce under Islamic law. In the eye of the Prophet and Quran, divorce was the most detestable of all, which God permits to do.

The Hanafi school would recognize a talaq as valid if it were pronounced in express words even though it was pronounced under compulsion, such as for someone else’s satisfaction . Though the Talaq under compulsion is valid, its acknowledgment under compulsion is not proper. But where a compromise between husband and wife was registered, it would be a document and not a disclosure.
Abu Zuhrah says , The Hanafi school reflects divorce by all persons except minors, lunatics and idiots as valid. Thus divorce pronounced by a person in jest or under intoxication by an unlawful intoxicant, or under duress, is valid. According to the accepted view of the Hanafi school that a divorce by mistake or in a state of forgetfulness is valid.he pronounced in jest, while Ahmad differs and regards such a divorce as invalid.According to the view of Imam Abu Hanafi , a divorce which is verbal issued by the husband, even when he is forced, is considered tbo be valid and effective.

Imam al-Mawsili states:

“The divorce issued by a person who is forced (mukrah) is effective….because he intentionaly the divorce but did not want it to occur, thus he is similar to the one who pronounced the divorce in jest.”
The great Hanafi jurist, Imam al-Haskafi) said; “Divorce will occur when it is pronounced by a husband who has reached puberty (baligh) and is sane (aqil)…even if he is a slave or is forced, for divorce pronounced by a forced person is valid, but not his admittance to issuing a divorce (m: meaning, if one was forced to admit that he had divorced, then that will not be a valid admittance).”


Reading Moulana’s books pertaining to women and women related issues especially divorce leads us to the conclusion; islam has allowed this act although detestable in the sight of Allah. Moulana has argued in favour of ibn Taymiyyah ‘s opinion along with the opinion of other scholars that three pronouncements at a time will be considered only one. In this way he has objected the hanafi view of triple talaq — three pronouncements valid at a time . Moulana offers a natural case regarding divorce, it is a necessary evil which sometimes a man or a women is forced to take especially when all conditions of reconciliation fails. Moulana has provided a clear as well as practical opinion and a way for those who are going to take this step. By observing the furious debates which are going on the divorce issue in islam across the globe, one can clearly say Moulana’s approach is practical as well as coherent islamically.

Note:  This article is an abridged version of an essay which was declarwd as a winner Essay in the CPS USA Competition 2022


Neelofar Rafeeq is a Ph.D. Scholar in the Department of Religious Studies, Central University of Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Feedback at


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