Divorce in the Qur’an and the Bible
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

You have stated many times in your articles that the sharī‘ah given to the Abrahamic religions varied while issues of beliefs and morality always remained the same. Can you please point out how the sharī‘ah of divorce is different in the Old Testament from that of the Qur’ān?


The divorce verses of the OT (Old Testament) read as follows:

If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives to her and sends her from his house, and after she leaves his house, she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then the first husband who divorced her is not allowed to marry her again after she had been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. (Deuteronomy, 24:1-4)

Some of the contrasting points regarding divorce between the OT and the Qur’ān are:

i. According to the OT, a husband can seemingly divorce his wife only on the grounds of indecency.1 The Qur’ān, on the contrary does not impose such a condition.

ii. The divorce sentence according to OT must be in written form (certificate of divorce), while the Qur’ān does not impose this condition. Divorce sentences pronounced orally are also acceptable.

iii. Contrary to the Qur’ān, the OT does not allow re-marriage between a former husband and wife, if after divorce, the wife is married to some other person and this second husband dies or divorces her.

iv. The OT also does not allow a husband to exercise his right of a revocable divorce twice in the course of a marriage, as the Qur’ān does. He can only exercise it once.



1. The New Testament limits this “indecency” to “marital unfaithfulness”. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus (sws) says:

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery. (Matthew, 19:9)

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