Family law

Islamic Law And Divorce: The Tale Of The Northern Women

Was there any obstacle in Aisha’s marriage or it was picture-perfect?.

   “Aisha is the firstborn of her family but lost everything after her marriage to Aminu. The marriage only lasted 4months. Aminu turned out to be not much the gentleman he appeared to Aisha on their first meeting….”

    The high rate of divorce in northern Nigeria has become a worrisome phenomenon. Some years ago, an organization of widows and divorcees tried to stage a massive march through the city of Kano to draw attention to their situation. Divorce is a solution to otherwise unacceptable pressures, particularly on young women, in a society that requires them to be subordinate and marginal within the extended family.

   A firm union of the husband and wife is a necessary condition for happy family life. Islam, therefore, insists upon the subsistence of a marriage and prescribes that breach of marriage contract should be avoided. In fact, Muslim couples are taught to see divorce as the very last option in settling marital discord. For Allah doesn’t love those who see talaq (divorce) as the first way to solve marital issues.

However, where negotiation to keep the marriage fails when one of the two wants out badly, Allah puts in place ways of severing the union without one of the parties, be it the female or the male, being cheated. This is done by the issue of talaq.

 Under Islamic law, divorce is given in various ways: firstly, the man can decide to let his wife go by the pronouncement of one talaq. Secondly, one talaq is given by a sharia court in a circumstance where the woman wants out of the marriage, but the man won’t give her the talaq. The Shari’a court has the power to give one and only one talaq.

       The main traditional legal categories are talaq (repudiation), khulʿ (mutual divorce), judicial divorce, and oaths. The theory and practice of divorce in the Islamic world have varied according to time and place.

   The word “Saki”, is used to mean(Talaq) divorce in the northern part of Nigeria. I.e, it’s a way by which a husband will pronounce the word divorce to his wife or cut the tie of marriage, between the husband and wife. It’s a clear statement that, in our community today, 80 percent of Islamic personal law cases are divorce cases.

   Today, the sad reality is,  people no Longer follow the steps in pronouncing divorce.  As a Muslim, your way and conduct of life have to be guided by the path of Islam as laid down by Allah. In some instances, whereby a husband will pronounce the word divorce to his wife without giving her an interval to purify herself. Even though, the husband can inform the wife that, if you do this I will divorce you. Islam is still loud about making divorce the right way and at the right time.

  Again,  we now have ugly happenings where women want to take charge in divorce. A wife squeezing her husband to divorce her without any justification is frowned at by Islam. But it now happens frequently. It has now been a tradition for husband and wife in northern Nigeria to dissolve their marriage within seconds base on will and desire with what they understand to be “Saki”

   To what magnitude is it to confess that the word Saki is in line with the position of Islamic Law?

    According to the Qur’an, the relationship between spouses should ideally be based on love ( mawadda was Rahma, 30:21)

 “And it is among His signs that He has created for you wives from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquility in them, and He has created love and kindness between you. Surely in this, there are signs for a people who reflect.”

 and important decisions concerning both spouses should be made by mutual consent. When marital harmony cannot be attained, the Quran allows and even advises the spouses to bring the marriage to an end (2:231)

     “And when you divorce women and they have [nearly] fulfilled their term, either retain them according to acceptable terms or release them according to acceptable terms, and do not keep them, intending harm, to transgress [against them]. And whoever does that has certainly wronged himself. And do not take the verses of Allah in jest. And remember the favor of Allah upon you and what has been revealed to you of the Book and wisdom by which He instructs you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Knowing of all things.”

although this decision is not to be taken lightly, and the community is called upon to intervene by appointing arbiters from the two families to attempt a reconciliation (4:35)

   “And if you fear a split between the two of them, then appoint an arbiter from his relatives and an arbiter from her relatives. If they desire reconcilement, Allah shall reconcile them.1 Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all-aware”.

     The Quran establishes two further means to avoid hasty divorces. For a menstruating woman, Al-Baqarah 2:228

 “prescribes the waiting ( Iddah ) period before the divorce is finalized, as three monthly periods”.

Similarly for non-menstruating women, including post-menopause women and pre-menarche girls, At-Talaq 65:4

  “And those women from among you who have despaired of (further) menstruation, if you are in doubt, their ‘Iddah is three months, as well as of those who have not yet menstruated. As for those having pregnancy, their term (of ‘Iddah ) is that they give birth to their child. And whoever fears Allah, He brings about ease for him in his affair.”

     By the sunnah, by the dictates of Prophet Mohammad, consists of a single pronouncement of divorce made in the period of the (purity between two menstruations), or at a time if the wife is free from menstruation, followed by abstinence from sexual intercourse during the period of iddah.

    The requirement that the pronouncement is made during a period of the applies only to oral divorce and does not apply to talaq in writing. Similarly, this requirement is not applicable when the wife has passed the age of menstruation or the parties have been away from each other for a long time, or when the marriage has not been consummated. The advantage of this form is that divorce can be revoked at any time before the completion of the period of iddah, thus hasty, thoughtless divorce can be prevented. The revocation may be effected expressly or impliedly.

    Thus, if before the completion of iddah, the husband resumes cohabitation with his wife or says “I have retained thee’’ the divorce is revoked. Resumption of sexual intercourse before the completion of the period of iddah also results in the revocation of divorce.

 In principle, Husbands and wives should not seek divorce without making serious efforts at reconciliation amongst themselves. They are expected to sit and discuss together. Attempts at reconciliation may involve arbitration, whether formal or informal because Muslim law prefers reconciliation to adjudication.

In conclusion, it’s very important to note that, Islam is a religion of peace, and has not left anything on touch. That is, you can’t bring in any culture or practice into the religion of Islam. Allah says in (Qur’an, 5:3)

“I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion.”

So, therefore, the practice of divorce in the northern community has not followed the procedure laid down by Islamic law. Because Islam enjoys reconciliation rather than dissolution of marriage, there is a need for restructuring and rebuilding of the practice of Islam and shariah law in the northern society to abolish some primitive, barbaric, age worm, and uncivilized culture under the umbrella of practicing Islamic law. Divorce is never a solution to a happy life, nobody is perfect. The paragon of perfection belongs to Almighty Allah. I rest my case.


1- Quranic verses

2- Sunnah

3- Family, marriage and divorce in Hausa community: A sociological model, By Luigi M. Solivetti


About Imran, Ridwan Anuoluwapo

Imran Ridwan Anuoluwapo, is a graduate of English literature from Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto. He is currently a student of law at the University of Maiduguri. His area of interest is Islamic personal law, constitutional law, oil and gas, commercial law, international law, corporate practice, and criminal law. His candid for mentorship and training. He is reachable vide/WhatsApp 08131077061 and