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Question: I know this girl who has basically done her nikah with this man who is her first cousin; she does not get along with him and knows it will not work, they have not spoken in over a year and also before she got married with him he used to abuse her physically; when she confronted him about it he didnt really care; and said its in the past and showed no remorse. She wants to end it but is not sure how her parents will react and whether the nikah is still valid?

If this girl had been forced into this marriage without her consent, then the marriage is deemed null and void; for no one in Islam, including one’s own parents, has the right to force anyone to marry someone he/she does not like to. Therefore, any such marriage conducted without the consent of the girl shall be considered as invalid. If, on the contrary, she had agreed to it initially, then the marriage is considered as valid; if, after the marriage, they developed problems in marriage, then the solution is not to rush to divorce; divorce, being the most abhorrent of all permissible acts in the sight of Allah, should be resorted to only as the last resort, after one has exhausted all the means of reconciliation.

Having said this, however, I must point out that if the woman is convinced of the fact that her husband is physically abusive and does not seem to be inclined to change his abusive behavior by taking the necessary steps to change, then she has every right to seek divorce from him. It is important for us to know that in Islam just as a man has a right to terminate a marriage he does not like to continue, likewise, a woman has also the right to terminate a marriage she does not like. For after all, marriage is a free choice between two equal partners: man and woman. If therefore, she strongly feels deep inside her heart that she cannot forge a lasting partnership with this man, it is best for her to choose to terminate the same instead of staying in a limbo. Allah orders the married couple in the Qur’an that they must make a choice: Either live together in a mutually honorable relationship or release each other from the bond of marriage in an equally honorable manner.

Now coming to the question: How can she face her parents? Let her ask herself: Isn’t it better for her to face the problem now and get over with it when it is less complicated than doing it later after they have consummated the marriage.
Therefore, she is advised to summon the courage and have a free and frank discussion with her parents; after all, if she can explain herself properly, her parents would have no difficulty in understanding her decision; if, however, she thinks that they may not be able to reconcile to her decision, perhaps she should get help of some wise, and knowledgeable persons in the community (i.e. an imam or alim or wise man) to help her communicate with her parents.

Last but not least, she should never fail to seek strength and spiritual assistance from Allah through dhikr and du’as.

I pray to Allah to grant her relief and courage to face the challenge by placing her trust in Allah and doing what is right--ameen.

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