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Should I Divorce Someone Who Has Stopped Practicing Islam?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

My wife has converted to Islam before marrying me. But now she doesn’t dress properly, she doesn’t pray and doesn’t have sexual relations with me. When I try to make things right she gets very angry at me.

Should I divorce her?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam.

May Allah grant you ease in your difficulties.

Your wife obviously seems to be struggling with the practice of the religion. It maybe that someone has cast doubts in her about the religion, or she already had those doubts and they weren’t resolved.

The first step would be to have a candid and sincere heart to heart with each other. I would suggest you sit down together and listen to what she has to say without trying to resolve things there and then. Despite your legitimate religious concerns, avoid preaching or threats, as it won’t help her at this particular point in time, and may push her away even more. Let her have her say and listen to her. Hurtful things maybe said, about you or the religion, and tempered emotions are to be expected, but try to control your emotions and words, and be prepared to hold your tongue for now. Then after she has completely finished all she has to say, you should have your say, without anger or reproach, and let her know your feelings, fears and expectations from her as a wife, the marriage, and for a future family. Leave it at that for a week.

Then have a second sitting and share any further thoughts on what you discussed, again without anger or recrimination. At this point, discuss whether you both feel that you can resolve the issues that were shared in the first meeting and if you both ultimately share the same beliefs, ideals, and plans.

If the above steps are not possible, or you fear your emotions will run too high without being constructive, try to get someone you are both comfortable with and trust to be a mediator. If this is not possible, seek out a qualified Muslim marriage councillor.

The real point of marriage is to draw nearer to Allah through good companionship and sharing the highs and lows of life together. This is why the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him said) ‘Whomever Allah blesses with a righteous wife, He has helped him with half of his religion, so let him fear Allah with regard to the other half’ [al Hakim]. If a couple is pulling in opposite directions in regards to the religion, then married life becomes extremely difficult. To start a family in such circumstances would be detrimental for all. Therefore, I urge you to resolve these issues, either by staying together and working things out, or by separating, before you start a family.

Marriage is also a means to fulfill each other’s natural desires, and if one or both partners are not being fulfilled in this respect, especially if one fears falling into sin, then this also needs to be resolved by working things out or separating.

You must decide how realistic it is that your wife will change and what hope there is for the lives you want. If after discussing things, it is clear that you both want different things in life and from the religion, then separation may well be the best option.

I wish you all the very best and May Allah guide you both to His Pleasure.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.