Divorce should be used only as a last resort after the couples have sought counseling from family, friends, or professionals to work out their differences. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The most hateful permissible thing (al-Halal) in the sight of Allah is divorce.” (Reported by Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah). Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “A wife has every right to get a divorce from her husband in case of oppression or abuse, although living separately by herself does not automatically constitute a divorce. In order for divorce to be valid, it must be pronounced in accordance to the rules, or issued by a properly constituted authority authorized to do so. In Islam, both man and woman have rights. Allah says, “And women have rights similar to those of men in kindness.” (Al-Baqarah: 228) These rights include rights to be treated fairly and kindly in all circumstances, both in case of marriage and in case of separation.
Just as a man has a right to leave a marriage that is uncomfortable or miserable, a woman has every right to leave a marriage that she finds uncomfortable or unbearable.
Allah has issued firm orders to men that they must deal kindly with women at all times: “And cohabit with them on terms of kindness.” They are also warned against being acting unfairly and unkindly and against holding women as prisoners in a marriage; rather they must, “Hold them in kindness or release them in kindness.” (Al-Baqarah: 231)
In light of these clear Qur’anic imperatives, Islam teaches us that whenever a husband violates the above principles, wife has a right to take whatever legal steps necessary to ask for dissolution of the marriage. It is her Islamic right, and the decision of the court in this case is genuinely Islamic, for she has only acted in order to avert personal harm and abuse from herself. The Islamic principle of jurisprudence is explicit: “Recourse must be taken to avert harm and injury”.
So, if as a wife, you don’t wish to remain married with your husband, then you have a right to ask for divorce. If he refuses, you can simply approach the court for a divorce. While asking for a legal divorce, ask your lawyer to request your husband to issue an Islamic divorce in writing along with the court divorce; a judge can order him to issue the same. If, however, your husband refuses to issue an Islamic divorce, then you can approach a recognized imam in the community to endorse the court divorce as a valid Islamic divorce.