Untangling Divorce: Delving into Shari’a Law in Egypt

Divorce, the termination of the marital bond between spouses, is a complex and often emotionally charged issue, affecting not only the couple involved but also their children. In this article, we will delve into the concept of divorce in Islam and its legal aspects in Egypt, exploring its definitions, types, effects, and the individuals authorized to issue it. We will also examine the importance of divorce documentation, agency and delegation in divorce, and some unique scenarios that pertain to divorce in Islamic jurisprudence.

Divorce, in the realm of Islamic jurisprudence and Egyptian law, is defined as the dissolution of a valid marital relationship. It can occur through explicit or implicit wording, as well as through expressions that serve its purpose. These expressions include written or gestural methods, making divorce a legally recognized and documented process.

While marriage is intended for permanence and the nurturing of love and mercy between spouses, certain circumstances may lead to marital discord and unhappiness. Islamic law recognizes divorce as a last resort for resolving such issues, discouraging its use except in cases of necessity. The goal is to protect the sanctity of marriage while acknowledging the need for a lawful path to separation when reconciliation is impossible.


Types of Divorce

Divorce can be categorized into two main types: reversible and irreversible. Reversible divorce allows for the possibility of reconciliation during the waiting period, while irreversible divorce signifies the immediate end of the marriage contract. Irreversible divorce can further be divided into minor and major irrevocable divorce, each with distinct implications for the divorced couple.

The default in Islamic jurisprudence is that divorce is revocable. However, there are specific cases where it becomes irrevocable. These cases include completing the threefold divorce, divorce before consummation, divorce in exchange for money, and other scenarios specified by law.

Al-Ruj’a, or the restoration of marital life during the waiting period, is only possible after a revocable divorce. The concept of al-ruj’a allows the husband to reconcile with his divorced wife. The waiting period serves as a time for reflection and possible reunion, with legal implications for the divorced couple’s financial rights and obligations.


Who Has the Right to Divorce?

Islamic Sharia grants the right to initiate divorce primarily to the husband, given his role as the head of the family. This approach aims to ensure that divorce is a carefully considered decision, as it places financial responsibilities on the husband, including deferred dowry and alimony. However, Sharia also grants women the right to seek divorce through a judge in cases of harm, as well as the option to initiate a Khula’ divorce in exchange for relinquishing their legal rights.

Divorce, as a right established by law, can be delegated to another person to manage. The husband can delegate someone else to divorce his wife, provided that the delegation is specific to divorce and not a general delegation. Additionally, the wife can be delegated to divorce herself, known as Al-Asma, which must be explicitly mentioned in the marriage contract.

Divorce issued by individuals with specific conditions, such as the insane, the mentally impaired, the angry, the bewildered, the ignorant, and the compelled, may or may not be considered valid. Sharia and Egyptian law provide guidelines for the validity of divorce under various circumstances, taking into account the mental state and capacity of the individuals involved.


Divorce Certification and Documentation

Divorce itself is considered a fundamental pillar, and it can occur through spoken words, whether expressed explicitly, in writing, or through gestures, should the husband choose to initiate it.

In Egypt, divorce must be certified and documented to be considered official and legally valid. This documentation is essential to establish the date and effects of the divorce, including financial and non-financial consequences. Additionally, divorce documentation can serve to protect the rights of both spouses and any potential disputes.

Divorce can be proven through various legal methods, including confession, evidence, and oath. If a divorce claim is disputed, the burden of proof falls on the party making the claim, with the legal system requiring the presentation of evidence, testimonies, or oaths to establish the veracity of the claim.



Divorce, whether in the context of Islamic jurisprudence or Egyptian law, is a multifaceted process with significant implications for all parties involved. Understanding the definitions, types, effects, and legal procedures associated with divorce is essential for those navigating this difficult journey. It is equally important to ensure that divorce is handled with care, considering its impact on the well-being of all family members, especially children.

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