Generally speaking, divorce is not viewed favorably in Islam; rather it has been either condemned or discouraged unless warranted by valid reasons. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) cautioned against senseless exercise of divorce when he said “Divorce is the most abominable of all permissible acts in the sight of Allah”(Abu Dawud). So no one with sound Islamic spirit and attitude should resort to divorce except in extreme and unavoidable cases, where it has been considered as legitimate in Islam. The reason for this is clear, for divorce entails serious consequences for families and individuals. It results in deep psychological and emotional scars, especially when children are involved.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states the following: When all the evidence is considered and evaluated, it is crystal clear that in Islam women, just like men, can have legitimate rights to divorce their husbands.
Divorce, however, it must be noted, is the most abominable of all permissible things in Islam. It is considered as the pet project of the devil, who is never satisfied with anything other than breaking up the relations between a husband and his wife. So all conscientious Muslims, male as well as female, must guard against the snares of Satan. They are obligated to try their utmost to maintain the sanctity of family. Therefore, divorce is a rare exception only to be undertaken for specific reasons, after having exhausted all means of reconciliation.
having said this, I must state that Islam envisages perfect equity between the spouses in rights and responsibilities: [They shall have rights just as they have responsibilities in fair measure] (Al-Baqarah 2:228). Such rights of women definitely include the right to divorce their husbands when and where cohabitation becomes difficult.
Such genuine reasons include physical or emotional abuse, for at no time does Islam tolerate such behavior from anyone; the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) instituted the firm principle that “there shall be no inflicting or reciprocating of harm” (Ahmad and Ibn Majah). The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) inferred the above principle from numerous Qur’anic verses that clearly forbid abuse, injury, or harm in every respect in all cases, and even more particularly in spousal relations. Thus we read a constant theme in the Qur’an:
[But do not retain them in order to harm or wrong them.] (Al-Baqarah 2:231)
[Do not harass them so as to make life intolerable for them.] (At-Talaq 65:6)
[A mother should not be made to suffer because of her child, nor should a father because of his child. The same duties devolve upon the father’s heir.] (Al-Baqarah 2:233)
Based on these and similar evidence, there is a consensus among scholars that where there is clear evidence of harm inflicted on a wife, she has every right to seek divorce from her husband.
The Qur’an has also established the principle that where spouses feel that they are so utterly incompatible with each other that they find themselves in a situation where they will not be able to protect themselves against sins, then they have a right to divorce. Thus we read in the sources that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) granted divorces to women who had complained to him that they were no longer happy with their husbands because of their incompatibility, while their husbands had no moral faults as such. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never harassed these women by further questioning; he only told them to return the dower and gifts they had received from their husbands.