Can a Husband Give His Wife the Right to Divorce?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

Can a husband give his wife the right to divorce?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide every dimension of our lives to that which pleases Him.

Yes, a husband may give his wife the right to divorce, but there are several considerations to observe, and Allah knows best.

Commissioning Another Party to Effect One’s Divorce

According to Sacred Law, the right to divorce belongs primarily to the husband and not the wife. There is divine wisdom behind this and all Sacred Law rulings, and one should be wary of dissatisfaction with Sacred Law.

However, although the power to issue a divorce belongs in principle to the husband, he may delegate this power to his wife or a third party.

A husband may effect divorce himself or commission another to do so, even if the person commissioned is a woman [even his wife]. The person commissioned may affect the divorce at any time (provided the one who commissions him does not cancel the commission before the divorce takes place, though when a husband tells his wife, “Divorce yourself”, then if she immediately says, “I divorce myself”, she is divorced, if she delays, she is not divorced unless the husband has said, “Divorce yourself whenever you wish.” [Misri, ‘Umdat al-Salik]

The Basis for the Delegation of Divorce

Delegating the right to divorce is based on the incident wherein the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) gave his wives the option to remain in his marriage or be divorced. Allah (Most High) said to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace):

“O Prophet! Say to your wives: “If it be that you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, then come! I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free handsomely. But if you seek Allah and His Messenger, and the Home of the Hereafter, verily Allah has prepared a great reward for the well-doers amongst you.” [Quran, 33:28]

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) left his wives’ company for around one month, after which the above verse was revealed.

Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) narrates, “When the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) was commanded to give an option (of divorce) to his wives, he started with saying: “I am going to mention to you a matter in which you should not (decide) hastily until you have consulted your parents.” She (Sayyida ‘Aisha) said that he already knew that my parents would never instruct me to seek separation from him. She said: “Then he said: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: “O Prophet, say to your wives: If it is that you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, then come! I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free handsomely. But if you seek Allah and His Messenger, and the Home of the Hereafter, verily Allah has prepared a great reward for the well-doers amongst you.” Sayyida ‘Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) says that I said to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace): “About this should I consult my parents, for I desire Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter?” She (Sayyida ‘Aisha) said: “Then all the wives of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) did as I had done.” [Muslim]

Sayyida ‘Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) also narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) gave us the option (to remain with him or to be divorced), so we chose (and preferred) Allah and His Messenger. Giving us that option was not regarded as a divorce.” [Bukhari]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.