Does a Long Separation Amount to Divorce?

Broken home, divorce, separation, split family

Does Long Separation Break a Nikah in Islam?

Name of Mufti: Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi
Source:, August 3 2004


As-Salamu `alaykum. If a husband and wife fight each other and after that they do not talk for 3 to 4 years, does this affect their nikah (marriage)?


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear sister in Islam, thank you for your question, which shows how concerned you are to abide by the Shari`ah in all details of your life. May Allah help us all lead a righteous life based on Islam!

First of all, it should be clear that marriage in Islam is a solemn contract for which the Shari`ah lays down rules and arrangements to guarantee its stability.

The spouses should avoid fighting or divorce as much as possible. If they have difficulties and problems they should be patient and forbearing. They have to try to work out their differences and seek help from their relatives, friends, or professional counselors.

In response to your question, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

It is not right for husband and wife to break their relations for such a long time. If there are differences, then they should try to reconcile as soon as possible. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) urged Muslims to reconcile their differences within three days. The one who begins the reconciliation receives the greater reward and blessings from Allah.

However a severance due to strained relationship does not affect the nikah, however long it lasts. They are still husband and wife. If the husband does not reconcile with his wife and remains severed from her, she has a right to file for divorce and take a legal divorce through the court.

But if a husband separates from his wife with an oath that he will not have conjugal relations with her, then he has only four months to reconcile. According to the Qur’an, this is called ila’. [In Shari`ah, ila’ means that the husband swears that he will not have sexual intercourse with his wife, either for an unrestricted period or for more than four months.] Allah says, “Those who swear that they will not go into their wives, the waiting period is four months. Then if they go back, Allah is surely Forgiving, Merciful. If they resolve on a divorce, then Allah is surely hearing and knowing.” (Al-Baqarah: 226-227). At the end of four months if he has not reconciled verbally or in action, then the wife has the right seek divorce through the court. And the judge can grant divorce to her.

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  1. Hello, I am in a similar situation. My spouse and I have been seperated for 7 months now. I left him because he had a drug problem, was out until mornings on a daily basis, ignored me, put me down, sold drugs, did drugs in our home, and occasionally hit me. We have had a series of issues since we got married. We were seperated for a while because he hit me and my brother called the cops on him, i dont think he really got over that since he blames me for all the misery in his life..

    Currently i see him when he picks up and drops off Kayan, I have slept with him a few times since.. after all he is my husband..

    i have tried to talk to him so that we can work things out ( i dont think he is completely off drugs but doing a lot better) he says that i am the reason for his misery that i did so much wrong to him that everything i have done is unforgiveable and that i need to move on.

    i talk to him and tell him that i understand but he also hurt me he was also never around for his family,, he also put us in danger and all he says is that i am blind to see that i am the reason for all of this and that things will never be the same that the things i did and the way i went back to my family is unforgiveable and that i cannot make mistakes so big and expect to be forgiven or taken back he is not a mockery..

    i just dont understand how a human can be so ignorant to his mistakes and faults and not feel guilty not even one bit. i dont understand how he can go days without seeing his son or even not pay his child support.

    I am still there for him whatever he needs wether it is a drive somewhere or whether it is money or anything..

    i just dont understand and i dont know what to do anymore either. I am tired and exhausted and so hurt ..

    am i doing the right thing by going for divorce? what should i do? he wont talk to anyone and his whole family hasnt approached mine saying they dont want to get involved. now my family has taken action since i am the girl and it is 3eib.

    i dont know what to do.. i love him so much and i just dont understand what his problem is. i fought for him i married him and my family wasnt too happy about it.. they have done many mistakes towards him (talked about him , belittled him etc..) and he has done many towards them (hit me, be littled me , yelled at them.. etc) i seem to be in the middle of this all and now i have a son with this man and he cant get over it.

    • Dear “Confused”, As-salamu alaykum. To me, the issue is not your husband and his problems. His problems are clear. He’s a jerk, a bad man, a bad husband, and a bad father.

      The real issue is you and your problem, which is your attachment to a bad man. Why on earth would you want to be with a man who hits you, puts you down and does drugs? SubhanAllah. Why would you want to get back together with him?

      You are fooling yourself. He will not change, and you cannot change him. Stop trying to control him, and control yourself instead. Make better choices for yourself.

      Divorce this man. Stop sleeping with him. Stop giving him money and driving him around. Take him to court and demand that he pay child support for his son.

      If you want some other perspectives, you can post your question at our sister site, but I’m sure you will get the same response from others.

      Wael Editor

      • Salam sister. I agree with Wael. I was in the same situation like you though not drugs… PLEASE sister, read the Holy Quran and WAKE UP, Know your RIGHTS given by Allah to you and MOVE ON as a nikah cannot work with only YOU doing all the hardwork.. He will ALWAYS BLAME you as I also experienced the same scenario like you.

        I prayed so hard to Allah and asked for strength to do the right thing. I asked Allah for guidance and i finally managed to break free… a divorce is a right of a muslimah in our circumstances and it set you free and inshallah you find peace and happiness again and so will he…. Trust Allah SWT and you will be guided…just like me. Inshallah.

  2. Hello,

    My mother and father have had a bad marriage since my childhood. They have not been on talking terms for more than five years even though we live in the same house. They have had different rooms and I am sure they have not had any conjugal relations for more than five years either since they do not even look at each other. My father is not a successful man and has never been able to hold a job. He does not have any means or the self-respect to look after himself which is why he has continued to live in our house for so long and my mother allows this even though she does not have any talking or other relation with him. He lives almost like a stranger. When we were little, he was abusive towards us and towards my mother and used to beat her and threaten her. I would like to know if his marriage to my mother is still valid or not. I am sure that my father would have sworn to not have conjugal relations with my mother because he was the one who changed his room first.

    • Saad, I’m sorry to hear about your family’s situation. However, a bad marriage does not mean the marriage is invalid. Even though there may be abuse and a lack of love, it does not invalidate the marriage.

      But I am not a scholar and I cannot give you a legal ruling on the matter. Anyway, I don’t see the point of trying to get the marriage invalidated. If your mother wants a divorce, she can request one.

      Wael Editor

  3. We must look at both sides of the story to reach a conclusion and since in some cases it is hard to do that, we will usually make a wrong assumption. A person will not sever sexual relationship with their spouse unless it is for a major cause. This usually involves the spouse betraying the other by having emotional or sexual relationship with someone real close to the other spouse, e.g. friend, sibling, parent, or a person of authority. This is why adultery is listed after shirk and then murder, as the major sins.

    • This is not always the case. Sometimes there is financial wrangling, sometimes a drug addiction, sometimes malicious intent. Not all people have a sound mind or clean intentions.

  4. that’s really the case of MODERN wife and husbands in general, but thanks to Islam that this is not spread yet in our cultures.

  5. my hasband has stoped talking to me for 3 months because of his sister, she is clever and cunning, she just pumps my hasband up of alot of lies and he believes her….i havnt done anything wrong and the worst thing is shes married to my brother and shes got him on her side aswel.shes from pakistan.she tries causing fights and arguments with my mum and other siblings,she does’nt do anything except watch tv,she sleeps all day and if my mum ask’s her for a little help around the house she claims shes no slave!!. we have had enuff of her so my mum wants to send her back as she does’nt have her remain to leave yet.shes also my mum neice.. this is also 1 of the reasons why my hasband wont talk to me.he wants his sister to get her permanent residance in this country..he knows how his sister is towards my mum and ignores it..i also 3 so fed up…he completly ignores me and we havn’nt had sexual relations for 3 months…im stuck and dont no what to do..

  6. What if the wife asks for a divorce for no real reason, then doesnt ask for the divorce if its going to be a Khula Divorce, but still wants to be seperated and doesnt want any physical contact and wants to live her life alone, but the husband is trying to reconcil. Can she still go to the court to get a divorce after 4 months if the husband doesnt want to give it until the Khula is settled?

  7. Asalam o alaikum i wanted ask is i had a nikah done jus over three years ago but i did not wanted to get my nikkah done due to i did not like the girl but i had to do it for my family’s sake because my uncle who’s daughter i had nikkah done with was creating lots of trouble to my family, but i was not happy with the nikkah i live in different country i did not have any conjugal relation ship never slept with her n did not have any contacts with her in any sence at all with intension of giving her divorce, traditionaly in pakistan some times people jus get the nikkah done but the girl stays at her parents house until the proper traditional marriage is done once it happends then girl goes and lives with the husband but i heard the tradition does not matter as long as the nikkah in done, i have never believed or seen her as my wife, i did not kept intouch with her and i do not want to go along with this nikkah i wanted to know is the nikkah already broken and how would i explain this to my family. Thank you

    • Wa alaykum as-salam brother. What does it mean that you did not believe in the nikah? Were you present when it was done? Did you give your consent? If so, then you are married even without the rukhsati. However, since the marriage was never consummated and you never lived with her, a divorce is quite easy and in fact there is no ‘iddah required. Just give her the pronouncement of divorce and it’s done.

      If it’s your intention to divorce her, then do it now. Do not keep delaying and leaving the poor girl in limbo. She has not done anything wrong, so divorce her and let her go on with her life and maybe find someone else Insha’Allah.

      Wael Editor

  8. Salaams.

    I have a situation with my wife she left me for about one half months because of issues with my family she says that my parents do not accept her and my sister ignores and makes problems.. I dnt like to get involved in those matters and our marriage has been rough ever since… it has been on going i am married for 2 years.. im very confused at the moment because I love her and want to be with her tried calling her back in the first week but she was too angry my parents dont want anything to do with her and I live with them… She asked for seperate accommodation buy my parents are old and sickly she now wants to reconcile but I know its going to be difficult my family says if I take her back they want to move out and i should divorce her instead. Please assist there’s alot of pressure from her to reconcile and from family to divorce. I dnt know wats right and how long many months does it take for marriage to be invalid? I have not pronounced divorce to her as I wish to reconcile.

    • As-salamu alaykum brother Suhail,

      Marriage does not become invalid due to separation. Marriage is only ended by talaq or khul’ah.

      The situation you are describing is very common when the husband and wife live with the husband’s parents. The wife may be treated by the in-laws as a servant or an outsider. Of course her living situation is unhappy. She wants to have her own home, to care for her husband and raise her children.

      I strongly suggest that you get a separate residence for yourself and your wife. That should solve most of the problems. Get a place near to your parents if you feel that they need your help on a daily basis. But it sounds like your sister lives with your parents as well, so do they really need your daily presence in the home?

      There comes a time when a man must move out of his parents’ home and raise his own family. Your parents did it, didn’t they? Now it’s your turn.

      Wael Editor

  9. Hi,

    I was interested in my cousin and we were enganged but after few years when family decided that we should get married, she called me and told me that she had talked with her parents many time that she don’t want to marry me as she liked someone else. We tried at our ends but Pakistani family care much about their respect. As all the familes attached with us knew that we are getting married and we are enganged for 4-5 years so our families forced us that its will get fine when you guys will get married and your understanding will develop.
    When nothing got in favour she called me and told me that she like someone but for family sake we have to get marry and you promise me that you will give me divorce as everything will get calm in family. I promised that ill try my best to give her divorce as soon as possible.minimum in 6 months and maximum in 1 year.
    we didn’t started practical life. i remained out of city all the time and when i was at home.i try not to get interaction with her alone so that she don’t feel comfortable as her feeling were not with me.
    Now from last 1 year she is living in her mother home because of personal reasons. We don’t meet obviously and we had just salam etc when we meet on any function and that is for 1-2 min.

    So is my relation still there? or i have to say in words also to her that i gave divorce? or divorce automatically done as the relation was based on just showing nikkah and on next day of nikkah i promised her that ill give divorce. few months ago she said me that get the papers ready and i todl her that they are ready. although inreality they are not.but ill get them ready asap. but just tell me about my realtion and nikkah status? i think its already finished….

  10. May Allah have mercy on us…
    Iam in the process of getting a divorce from my husband , it’s a stage filled with pain after years from my side trying to solve things out , bad marriage takes out the worse in you ,confusion is there and unbearable life ,separation for long months, no Mawada or sakeena, kids witnessing the horror of this marriage, so ladies try all your best , but still things keep getting worse then a decision must be taken , and I’m taking it now before getting older , and just rely on Allah,we have no option, pray for me please….it’s a very tough time ahead

  11. Hi,
    Will anyone reply to my query, posted a couple of days ago….?

  12. hi all…. i want to ask a question about the validity of a nikah….is a nikah valid if a man lies about his name to a girl at the time of getting married? also, if right after the nikah, the girl goes back to her parents’ house and never sees the man again for 3 yrs, does the nikah remain valid? pls respond…

    • muslima300, on your second question (long separation) the answer is yes, the nikah remains valid. On the first question (lying about his name), I do not know.

  13. Ive been seperated from my husband for a year now. We dont have kids we dont own property or anything i grew up in usa and he in a different country. I am currently in usa. I filed for divorce because he has been cheating in facebook he browses through clubs when im on my period and also lied about being married to someone else. He is not stable he comes to usa then goes back within 3 months…our marriage together has only been 6 months out of the year i gave up studying to go back with him onl to find out his habits r the same. I am emotionally sick and i look crazy to people i throw things and i cant stand standing with him or anything. In all im not looking to get back i dont live in my country i dont know the laws. I filed a divorce here my mom is ok with and my dad is not doing anything but he wants the divorce to happen. Will my divorce through the courts be vaild.

    • Sara, I’m not totally familiar with U.S. divorce laws. Are they the same in every state? As far as I know it’s fairly easy to obtain a divorce, isn’t it?

      Wael Editor

      • yes its easy, you just go to court and file for it and it takes 3 months. if you have kids and assets together takes longer. But my father wants me to divorce but hes not taking action i want to divorce and my husband doesnt want to so i went ahead and took action.

  14. My parents have an on and off fighting relationship. Currently they haven’t talked for a week. My dad says that my mom doesn’t give him respect. My mo believes the same. My mom and dad had a fall out in the car a week ago and they cursed out each other and their mothers and fathers talking about them sleeping around. It is a big insult in our culture and none of them are getting over it. I don’t know what to do in this situation. I do know that my mother is at more fault but I can not say that. None of them are willing to talk. They both tell me their problem and their complaints about each other. Please tell me what I can do in this situation. This problem is consistent they can go up to a month without speaking and this problem has been in place for about 5 years. i I want to find a lasting solution for this problem what should I do??

  15. My husband and I have been nikkah’d for 6 years now but my parents still have not decided on a rukhsati date. His parents have called my mom numerous times but my mom always has some sort of excuse. This is really putting a strain on our ‘marriage’ I love him but the wait just doesn’t seem to end. We don’t have physical relations with each other and we live very far away from one another. Would it be best to just separate?

    • hadia, As-salamu alaykum. The “Rukhsati” is a cultural invention, not an Islamic requirement. The fact is that since you have had your nikah, this man is your husband. Your place is with him. I cannot understand why you would remain with your parents for six years after being married. It makes no sense. And why would you consider divorce if you love him?

      What you should do is pack your bag and ask your husband to come pick you up. Go live with him and begin your married life. You do not need your mother’s permission for this. Now that you are married, your loyalty and duty is to your husband. Your parents have no right to keep you from him.

      Wael Editor

  16. Please help me. I got married a year and a half ago and my husband has no interest in any sort of physical relationship between us, he always makes a excuse like he’s got a headache, backache etc. We hardly had a sex life after the first 10 days of our marriage. Due to this reason aswell as the fact hes never financially supported me or my 8 yr old son we have seperated
    It’s been about 6 months now, he says he can not and will not have a physical relationship with me as it’s not that important but it’s had a effect on me. I feel as if I am living with a na mehraam, he feels like a brother or roommate. He even avoids sleeping in the same bed as me aswell as changing infront of me.
    He says if I want to stay with him I have to accept this
    He never told me all this before we got married, he should have told me he only wanted companionship. We r in our mid 30s. This is my second marriage and I m very stressed I don’t want a divorce but at the same time how do I live the rest of my life like this? There’s no closeness between us, no love, he never gave it a chance to build. Any sort of physical contact is always a NO from him. I feel very unattractive and frustrated around him, he puts me down and yells at me of I ask him for sex, he said I should just b happy I got married again and that I don’t live at home with my parents anymore and tht my son has a father. M too selfish, I want too much? It’s not like he wants to have little sex, I would have worked around that, but he doesn’t want any in the relationship.

    • As-salamu alaykum sister. My guess is that your husband is either impotent, or homosexual. If it’s the first then maybe he is embarrassed to admit it. The good news is that it can be treated. If it’s the second, then there is no future in this marriage. When you consider that he also does not support you financially, I’d say the separation is the best thing, and that you should ask him for talaq.

      Wael Editor

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