Is it permissible to seek khul (divorce at the request of the wife) on the grounds that the wife does not like the physical appearance of the husband?
As far as permissibility then this is permissible. If she sees in him an appearance which is not pleasing to her and everytime she sees him she feels distress and maybe she becomes ungrateful to him. So with regards to permissiblity then this is permissible if she’s not able to be patient with him. And likewise if a man marries a woman and then finds her contrary to what is pleasing to him and so forth. And what’s necessary is that a man takes a look at the woman he wants to get married to at the time of marriage. Similarly a woman must also take a look at the man she wants to get married to. Yes. So when they both see each other and each one of them seeks Allah’s (عز و جل) counsel in this affair with conditions fulfilled then this is good. However if things occur including trials or distress, and one of them tries to be patient but is unable to, then perhaps this would either lead to him oppressing her or the wife oppressing the husband which inturn would lead to them separating.
And some of them you see them saying in the beginning: “First and foremost i want a religious woman.” They say to him: “Yaa akhi, you don’t want her to be beautiful?” He insists: “No, I’m telling you i want a religious woman.” So a religious woman comes to him and he marries her. Some time passes and then he starts to hesitate. (You ask him) what’s the matter with you? He says: wallaahi akhi… yani… I see her as… (You tell him): “I told you about this in the beginning”. A person must make himself clear from the beginning and not play with people’s daughters. And likewise a woman must make herself clear (in the beginning) and not put herself in a stressful situation.
Similarly, a woman says: “I only want a religious man.” The fair skinned(man) comes to her, the tall man, and the rich man. (She says): “Never!” I only want a religious man.” So a religious man comes to her, and she does not find the religious man to her liking. She does not want him….he’s a hafidh of Quran, from the people of the masjid, upon istiqaamah, etc. She looks at him and says: “but….but..” So a person must be straightforward and frank from the beginning. “I want a woman upon istiqaamah along with this, this, and that.” Like we say here: “enter well”. One must enter in the marriage and be specific about any conditions they may have. He must specify for example that she must be like this and like this and like that etc. As for him saying i don’t want except such and such and then later on he starts to complain, then that’s not good. We find an example with regards to this in the sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم):
Ibn `Abbas رضي الله عنه narrated:
The wife of Thabit bin Qais came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I do not blame Thabit for defects in his character or his religion, but I, being a Muslim, dislike to behave in un-Islamic manner (if I remain with him).” On that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said (to her), “Will you give back the garden which your husband has given you (as Mahr)?” She said, “Yes.” Then the Prophet (ﷺ) said to Thabit, “O Thabit! Accept your garden, and divorce her once.” Bukhari 5273
The Shaykh (حفظه الله) was also asked:
Is it punishable if a girl rejects the proposal of a religious man on the grounds of physical appearance or economic background?
As far as permissibility then this is permissible. However this may lead to a halt (in her quest to get married) while shes waiting for this special young man to come, with a good lineage, money etc. She may reach the age of 20 or 27 or 30 while she’s still waiting for this young man. So what we advice with is contentment. Contentment with what Allah has portioned out and that everybody looks to what Allah has made easy.
Answered by: Shaikh Abu Abdillah Muhammad Ba Jamaal (May Allah preserve him)
Translated by: Umm Yusuf bint Abi Bakr