Is It Permissible for Me to Separate from My Husband?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I have been married for almost three years and have a 22-month-old son. Our marriage is happy 95% of the time. But when we fight, things get heated up quickly. My husband has a way of saying things that hurt me, and I get a knee-jerk reaction which aggravates the situation. Last Sunday, we fought, and there were exchanges of physical blows and heated words. He called my father to come over, who witnessed the last part of the argument. My husband’s last words were, “OK, either you leave (the marital home) or I will.” So I opted to leave the house and have been staying with my parents since (it is now day 8 of the separation).

Tomorrow I will move back into the marital home, and he will move out to stay elsewhere. My husband hasn’t declared a divorce, and he hasn’t said that he wants a divorce. During the argument, he said he would keep me but would marry a second, third, and fourth wife. I don’t know if he means this. All I know now is that we are separated. But I don’t know how long it’s going to be. Is separation allowed in Islam? If a man divorces his wife, is she still supposed to stay in the same house with him for three months? Is this situation accepted in the eyes of Allah? I also don’t know how to move on because I’m not divorced but separated. I hope you can alleviate some of my stress.

Answer

May Allah preserve your family and guide you out of this hot mess. Verily the Shaytan runs deep in the veins of man; we must learn how to repel him and fear Allah.

Physical Violence

I can not give you a more dire warning than this: Violence will ruin your life. You must not hit anyone with whom you are angry. Raise your hands only to pray and never to your husband or child. Your husband deserves more respect than that, and your child deserves more mercy.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Had it been permissible that a person may prostrate himself before another, I would have ordered that a wife should prostrate herself before her husband.” [Tirmidhi]

This demonstrates to us the husband’s rank; you must keep this in mind when you argue, yell and complain. It is wiser for you to be kind to him and to listen when he complains. You can address his concerns when he is calm.

As for his violence, of course, he should not be hitting you. A fatwa from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is the following: “No, there is absolutely no place in Islam for abuse of one’s spouse–whether physical, spoken, or emotional. All abuse is haram.” This goes both ways. You can not hit him either.

Separation

It is permissible for you to separate from your husband without a divorce. Distance usually makes the heart grow fonder. With time apart, a man and woman can truly see how much they miss each other and want to work it out. Both should renew their intentions and come back with the intention to change. A marriage counselor and an anger management course are also good ideas for both parties. Try to have your husband see your son often during this time. He should not have to suffer.

It is correct that a woman must stay in her marital home after one or two divorces. He must still support her and may not ask her to leave. He also cannot be alone, so he must move out unless he keeps her in a separate wing of the home. [Reliance of the Traveler, p.570]

Not Divorced Yet

Sister, I recommend you do your utmost to make this marriage work out. It will require patience, kindness, squashing of your ego, and communication. If you are happy most of the time, you only need to work on the last 5%. Your son should also grow up with a father; he will be a teenager before you know it. Please look at the following links to help establish a secure and happy marriage. May Allah give your family the very best in both worlds.

Please take the course: Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life and see these links:

Four Keys to The Most Successful Marriage
Staying Connected to Your Purpose Even When Your Marriage is Rocky.

And Allah alone gives all success.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.