Does Islam give women the right of divorce?
The Quran and hadith literature point towards overarching principles of justice, equality, human dignity, and non-discrimination against genders.(Quran 30:21, 17:70, 4:1, 7:189, 39:6) In line with these principles, the holy Prophet endorsed and/or modified certain pre-Islamic societal norms and contracts (which later became recognised as muʿāmalāt) to regulate and ensure that contractual affairs of human beings were conducted with utmost fairness and that they safeguarded the rights of the contracting parties (Quran 4:19; 57:25).
The Sharia recognises that a husband and wife have an equal right to annul the marriage through divorce. A woman can initiate a divorce through the process known as khulʿ, where she returns the money given to her at the time of marriage (mahr) in order to annul the marriage. Alternatively, a woman has the right to make provisions at the time of marriage and appoint an attorney who can act on her behalf to initiate a divorce. In this case, she does not have to repay the money given to her at the time of marriage. In the worst-case scenario, for example, when a woman does not have sufficient funds to pay back the money given to her at the time of marriage and has not made any provisions in the marriage contract, she can refer to a jurist to grant a divorce.