Who Says Muslim Women Don’t Have the Right to Divorce? – A Comparison between Anglo-American Law and Islamic Law

51 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2009 Last revised: 24 Sep 2015

Date Written: August 21, 2009

Abstract

Contrary to popular belief, Muslim women possess comparable rights concerning divorce as those possessed by American women. American couples may file for divorce individually, or jointly, citing fault or no-fault as grounds for the dissolution. Although Islamic law discourages divorce, it is permitted; each spouse holds the right to divorce the other. Muslim women have the right to divorce their husband for a number of fault-based reasons, as well as personal reasons lacking fault. Moreover, marriage under Islamic law is viewed as a contractual relationship and Muslim women may protect themselves by creating the equivalent of a prenuptial agreement. In the agreement, the woman may prescribe certain conditions that must be met, and may seek a divorce if any condition is violated. Likewise, American women hold that same right. American courts divide the property of divorcing spouses as equitably as is possible and practical, regardless of whether it is a community property or a common law property state. Property division under Islamic law provides Muslim women with full ownership of her property, including the dower she received from her husband in consideration of the marriage. Thus, Muslim women hold rights which parallel those of American women regarding divorce.

Suggested Citation

Miller, Kathleen, Who Says Muslim Women Don’t Have the Right to Divorce? – A Comparison between Anglo-American Law and Islamic Law (August 21, 2009). New York International Law Review, Vol. 22, p. 201, 2009, Roger Williams Univ. Legal Studies Paper No. 77, Islamic Law and Law of the Muslim World Paper No. 09-79, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1459062

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