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Contemplating Divorce

If you are experiencing stress in your marriage, you may find yourself thinking about separation or even divorce. This pages provides guidance and resources about how to navigate these questions and areas of concern. For more resources, check out The FYI’s Divorce Support Toolkit.

Assess Your Marriage​

Start with evaluating the state of your relationship to gain insight into positives and negatives of your relationship, and discover choices that you can make to either heal your relationship or end it: 

  • There are many important questions that you may be asking yourself as you are having this internal struggle. Try completing marriage assessments which help you become aware of warning signs and really dig into your relationship. Even if your partner is not willing to take these, you can still take them yourself so you can get your own internal assessment of the state of your marriage
  • Engage in muhasaba—or self-reflection to hold yourself accountable. As you evaluate your marriage, ask yourself:red time apart to help you heal your relationship.
    • “What is my role in this relationship?”  
    • “What am I contributing to the conflict in this relationship?”
    • “How is my past impacting my interactions and experiences in this marriage?
  • Healing separation is another path you may consider as structured time apart to help you heal your relationship.
  • Discernment counseling is something couples can also consider. It usually leads to choosing one of three paths:
    • Maintaining the relationship as it is,
    • Getting a separation or divorce,
    • OR six months of couples therapy and a recommitment to making the marriage work

While it is not a replacement for counseling, reading through what a discernment counseling session looks like can help you think about the right questions. 

Leaning Towards Divorce

Couples who are leaning towards divorce may be looking for “signs” that they should move forward with a divorce. There is never just one warning sign that signals divorce and signs can differ from person to person, and from situation to situation. Consider these resources if you are leaning towards divorce:

Reconciling Your Relationship

Here are resources to help you navigate the process of reconciliation if that’s the right direction for you and your partner. Focus on building your relationship skills, communicating effectively, and engage in activities that enhance your connection. Here are some ideas about where to start: 

Shifting away from the blame game and being attuned to each other emotionally are two of the 10 Things to Try Before Giving Up on Your Marriage from the Gottman Institute:

  • Create a roadmap for reconciliation
    • Make an action plan for going forward
    • Identify what went wrong
    • Evaluate your relationship: is it Sliding or Deciding?
    • Discuss needs and expectations
    • Staying on the same team
  • Try the 8-step rescue plan as you try to transition from conflict to repair. For example:
    • Make a list of all the issues you have disagreements about
    • Fix your focus solidly on yourself
    • Learn how to express concerns constructively
    • Learn how to make decisions cooperatively
  • Focus on the positives and share each other’s needs
    Try these marriage exercises and activities that can help strengthen your relationship. Share them with your partner:

Abuse in Your Relationship

Mistreatment in a relationship can take many forms and it can be difficult to accept that you are experiencing abuse. Words are powerful and finding the ability and strength to label your experience using the right words can be empowering and shift your perspective about what you are going through. If you aren’t sure if what you are experiencing is abuse, here is a useful assessment tool. Additionally, this section provides more resources on how to determine if you are experiencing mistreatment or abuse in your relationship, what to do about it, and how to ensure your safety. 

If you fear for your safety or are in immediate danger, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. 

It’s important to understand why it is so hard for victims of domestic violence to leave their abusers. Know the warning signs of domestic violence, even in Muslim communities:

Contemplating Divorce

Recognize that domestic abuse happens to men too

  • Learn the signs of abuse by your female partner and how to protect yourself
  • Refer to this booklet to learn about why men stay in these relationships, and what to about it
  • Read this to know what steps you can take to get help and stop the abuse 

Read and watch these resources to clear misconceptions about abuse in Islam:

Sexual abuse:

Check out the Peaceful Families Project’s directory of Muslim service providers who specialize in domestic violence.


“But what about my kids?!” When thinking about divorce, considering the possible negative effects it may have on your children is likely one of the major issues you are struggling with. Here are some things to consider as you go through this process.

Should you stay together for the kids? There are circumstances when divorce might benefit everyone. Here are some of the main points to consider:

  • How are children affected by chronic conflict? Toxic marriages may negatively affect children more so than an amicable divorce
  • Three key factors typically determine how well children adjust after divorce:
    • The relationship children have with each parent pre-divorce
    • How long and intense the chronic conflict has occurred
    • Parents being able to prioritize children’s needs during the divorce
  • Some positive outcomes for children after divorce include:
    • Children may become more resilient and adaptable 
    • Children have more quality time with each parent, particularly fathers
    • Children have increased empathy for others who struggle 


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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).