Marriage is indeed a sacred bond that brings together a man and a woman by virtue of the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Indeed, Allah Almighty describes this relationship is as though one is a garment to the other; “they are a libas (i.e. body cover) for you and you are the same for them” (Al-Baqarah: 187), thus illustrating the closeness, affection, warmth and love of one for the other.
Thus, each partner in this sacred relationship must treat the other beautifully and properly. A man must not divorce his wife to bring harm upon her, as this constitutes an act that demolishes this noble establishment, breaks the woman’s heart, and possibly separates the woman from her children without any reason. Thus, the separation between a man and his wife [without just reason] was considered one of the major and grave sins, and one of the most beloved actions of Satan, as was narrated in a number of hadiths.
Just as a man must never divorce his wife in order to bring harm upon her without reason, it is also forbidden for a woman to ask for a divorce without a sensible reason. However, she is allowed to ask for a divorce for an acceptable reason.
Elaborating on this issue, we’d like to cite for you the words of Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in his well-known book, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam. He writes:
“The woman who cannot bear to live with her husband has the right to free herself from the marriage bond by returning to her husband the mahr (required marriage gift) and gifts he has given her, or more or less than that according to their mutual agreement. It is, however, preferable that he should not ask for more than he has given her. Allah Almighty says: “…And if you (the judges) fear that the two may not be able to keep to the limits ordained by Allah, there is no blame on either of them if she redeems herself (from the marriage tie by returning all or part of the mahr)…” (Al-Baqarah: 229)
The wife of Thabit ibn Qays came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I do not reproach Thabit ibn Qays in respect of character and religion, but I do not want to be guilty of showing anger to him.” (Her meaning was that although Thabit was a good man, she was unable to get along with him and thus might not be able to show him the respect due to a husband.) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked her about what she had received from him. She replied, “A garden.” He asked, “Will you give him back his garden?” “Yes,” she said. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then told Thabit, “Accept the garden and make one declaration of divorce.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and an-Nasa’i)
It is not permissible for woman to seek divorce from her husband unless she has borne ill-treatment from him or unless she has an acceptable reason which requires their separation. Said the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “If any woman asks her husband for a divorce without some strong reason, the
fragrance of the Garden will be forbidden to her.” (Reported by Abu Dawud)”