By KH. Cecep Jayakarma
(Nurulhuda Islamic Boarding School Garut)
To introduce myself Kiai, my name is Mrs Nur. I was married for five years and was blessed with three children. At first, our household ran smoothly. I worked helping my husband with a small business. Though our income was not much, I lived patiently. However, my husband left without any news or warning. After one year, I recently received news that my husband had joined a terrorist group and is currently detained. At the moment, I am trying to hold on and survive without my husband. My children are also growing and are being raised without a father. My children and I have even become neighbourhood talk, because my husband has joined a terrorist group.
Kiai, for one year I have not been supported physically or mentally by my husband. He went without warning and joined a terrorist group. In fact, I wish to file for a divorce against my husband. What is the Islamic rule in regards to this Kiai? Is this the right decision? Please enlighten me, Kiai.
Mrs Ani who I respect and may Allah bless you. First of all, may I pray to Allah that you always are blessed, and given physical and spiritual strength when facing all of life’s trials. Aamiin ya Robbal’aalamiin.
Regarding the question you posed, I would like to convey the following; the law of the wife filing her husband for divorce or in fiqh terms (Islamic jurisprudence of Sharia law) ‘al-khulu’. In the Quran, Al-Baqarah 2:229, Allah says:
And it is not lawful for you to take back anything of what you have ever given to them unless both [partners] have cause to fear that they may not be able to keep within the bounds set by God. If you are worried that the two (husband and wife) may not be able to keep within the bounds set by God, there shall be no sin upon either of them for what the wife may give up [to her husband] in order to free herself. These are the bounds set by God, do not, then, transgress them. Whoever violates them, they who are evildoers!
Then, in a hadith (a report of what the Prophet Muhammad said, did or approved) narrated by Abdullah Ibn Abbas Ra “the wife of Thabit b. Qais b. Shammas came to the Prophet and said ‘Messenger of Allah, I do not hate Thabit for any defects in his religion and his character. I’m just afraid of the kufr (behaving in un-Islamic manner [if I remain with him]’. So, the Prophet Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said ‘Would you return the garden [which your husband has given you as mahr]?’. She replied ‘Yes’, so she returned it to him and the Prophet Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam ordered her and Thabit to divorce” (Recorded by Al-Bukhari).
According to a review of the fiqh, in viewing the problem of al-khulu’ there are taklifi rules (defining law for competent believers) as follows; the first is permissible. This is when a wife already feels hated or uncomfortable living with her husband because there is hatred and she is worried that she cannot fulfil her husband’s rights, and or, she cannot obey her husband according to God’s provisions.
Secondly, it is haram (unlawful). This is, if a wife asks for divorce from her husband even though the household relationships are good and there are no fights or disputes between the husband and wife. Along with this, there is no reason in Sharia law that al-khulu’ can occur. This is prohibited based on the words of the prophet Muhammad ‘all women who ask for a divorce (file for a divorce) from their husbands without reason then it is forbidden for them to smell the scent of heaven’ (recorded by Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidzi, Ibn Majah and Ahmad). If this is understood in a Mubadalah (reciprocal) way then it applies to a husband who divorces his wife for no reason, thus it is unlawful.
Thirdly, there is mustahabba (sunna or recommended actions). That is, if the husband is undermining the rights of Allah, the rights of his wife or children, then the wife is recommended to file for divorce.
Fourthly, there is wajib (mandatory). Sometimes al-khulu’ becomes obligatory in certain circumstances. For example, filing for a divorce from a husband who has never prayed, even though he has been reminded by the wife, or a husband who is violent towards his wife with actions that endanger the wife and child’s lives.
In my opinion, your (Mrs Ani’s) decision to file for divorce from your husband who for a year has not provided you with a living and left without any news to join a terrorist group, is the right decision. This is based on several considerations.
Firstly, he is a husband who is not responsible for his family. He has even abandoned his wife and children. So, if you file for divorce from your husband then this can be justified from a religious perspective.
Secondly, because he is involved in a terrorist network, of course this will have a negative impact on your status and the status of your children. It is not impossible that you will also be suspected of being a part of a terrorist network. Thus, disassociating yourself from ties with members of terrorist networks is the right action. Make sure everyone knows that you have no knowledge and nothing to do with the terrorist group that your husband belongs to.
Thirdly, you and your children have a right to a better life in the future. Therefore, one must have courage to end a relationship with a person who is not responsible towards his wife and children. As for the problem of rumours from neighbours that you are part of a terrorist group, I think that you do not need to worry. God willing, one day they will understand that you have no relationships with terrorist networks. If needed, you can ask for help from service agencies that provide assistance for women who are victims of violence.
Mrs Ani whom I respect, this is the answer I can give. I hope you along with your children always have the passion to live a life to achieve happiness in the future. And may Allah always give physical and spiritual strength towards you and your children to live a better life. Aamiin yaa Robbal’aalamiin
Translated by Lucaya Rich (student at the Australian National University with a passion for studying Indonesian language and culture)