Divorce vs. Talaq: What's the difference?

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Difference between Divorce and Talaq

The concept of the divorce is well-known to many in the West but Talaq is a lot less familiar. The fact is, Talaq is the Islamic form of divorce, although it has many distinct and specific differences and requirements as compared to the Western concept of divorce. Let's see what those differences and requirements are.


Talaq is the Islamic term for divorce. As with the western concept of divorce, the Talaq is invoked in order to end a marriage (called nikah) under Islamic law or sharia.

As for divorce in Western societies, it is the term used to refer to the termination of a marriage. This effectively cancels the duties and responsibilities of marriage and basically dissolves the bonds between two married people. In most of the world, divorce is only legal if it is sanctioned by a court or other legal authority. The divorce process also often deals with issues such as spousal and child support, child custody, and property and/or debt distribution.


Talaqis bound by a number of rules, which may vary according to the particular Islamic code of the region in which it is to take place. Shiah and Sunni Muslims for example have different requirements with regard to performing a Talaq. In any case, the most common requirements are that the husband must be of sufficiently mature age at the time of the Talaq, and he must be of sound mind. The Talaq must also be performed on the husband’s own free will, and there must be two witnesses present. Among Shiah Muslims, this last requirement is particularly important, as it is mentioned specifically in the second verse of Surah al-Talaq in the Qur’an. After the process, the couple is effectively divorced, and the husband no longer has to support his ex-wife.

The western divorce is also subject to a number of rules, one of the most important of which is that it has to be certified by a court of law in order for it to be effective. While the court is often responsible for determining the terms of the divorce, factors such as prenuptial or postnuptial agreements are often taken into consideration. In the cases of couples that have a private agreement, the court’s role is to simply ratify the terms of such agreements.


Talaq is considered legal in countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, subject of course to the requirements mentioned previously along with certain others.

Divorce for its part is considered legal in many parts of the world, with the notable exceptions of Malta and in the Philippines. In any case, divorce does not actually result in the nullification of the marriage–as the case would be with an annulment–although it does effectively cancel the married status of both partners.

Similarities and Differences


  • The Islamic term for divorce
  • Invoked in order to end a marriage under Islamic law


  • Refer to the termination of a marriage
  • Also often deals with issues such as spousal and child support and child custody among others


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