Written by: Zainab bint Younus



Almost three years ago today, I fought for my right to receive a khul’… and received it. It was painful and exhilarating all at once; I was twenty-two years old, I had been married for almost four and a half years, and I had a three-year-old daughter. I had asked for khul’ three times in the span of about a year, and each time I had been denied.


This last time, I stood my ground – and finally received what I knew to be my Shari’ah right.


The ‘iddah (or waiting period before being permitted to re-marry) of khul’ is only one menstrual cycle, unlike that of talaq or widowhood. Whereas a woman who has been given a talaq is obliged to stay within her husband’s home, I– being a woman who had chosen to leave the marriage– left my then-husband’s home as well, and spent that time with my family instead.



The night I received my khul’’, my tears were of relief, excitement, and joy. The next morning, as I sailed on the ferry that would take me back to my grandparents’ home, I buried my face in my best friend’s shoulder and wept for all that had passed.


My ‘iddah lasted all of two weeks, and it was a period of time marked by numerous emotions, a flash flood of exhilaration and anger, sorrow and jubilance, shattering uncertainty about the future, and a sense of renewal for my life. Every sajdah was filled with an overflowing sense of gratefulness that I had been given this opportunity that so many other women are denied; every rak’ah was performed with an aching heart and guilt at what I had chosen to do.


I wish I could say that I used my ‘iddah as a time of thoughtfulness and reflection, of heightened spirituality and increased maturity, but to be honest… to be honest, I was mostly just giddy with excitement. After four and a half years, it was a huge relief to be able to be myself again; to be able to laugh out loud, to wear a pair of shoes I liked, to be able to speak my own opinions without being censured or punished for being ‘a bad wife.’


For those two weeks, though I chafed at being kept indoors by my family, I spent a significant portion of my time simply making lists of all the things I couldn’t wait to do as soon as my ‘iddah was over.


My ‘iddah was a time where I felt like I was able to rediscover myself: remembering the person I really was behind the layers of anxiety and depression and the innumerable restrictions that had been placed on my own personality. I was able to write freely again, as though someone had removed a muzzle from my heart and mind; I could speak with honesty, instead of choosing my words based on what a certain individual wanted to hear; I could finally make choices for myself again, as a grown woman, and not someone whose existence was tied to the demands of someone else.


My identity as a Muslim woman was no longer dependent on being someone’s obedient wife; my future in the Hereafter was not hinged on another human being’s mood swings. I was, for the first time in my life (or so it felt), a grown woman whose spiritual status was a matter solely between herself and her Lord.


It was divorce, not marriage, which brought me closer to Allah and filled me with a strength of sincerity that I had not experienced in a long, long time.


When my ‘iddah ended, the first thing I did was go for a walk, hand in hand with my three-year-old daughter, retracing the neighborhood steps of my childhood and adolescence. It was here that I felt my life had come almost full-circle; here was the place that I had always felt happiest, where I had anticipated my future with eagerness, where I had experienced the early, simple struggles of adolescence and felt myself growing into the type of person I hoped to be. Now, once again, I felt the same joy and excitement, the same growing pains and the sense of discomfort that accompanies true change.


I tipped my head back towards the sun, and smiled.


{So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?} (Qur’an 55:13)



Zainab Bint Younus (the Salafi Feminist) is a Canadian Muslim woman who tries to write thoughtfully about women of Islamic history and positive polygyny when not ranting against the patriarchy. Having sought divorce at the age of 22, she maintains that it was one of the best decisions of her life (tied with her choice to enter into polygyny and live happily ever after with her husband and best friend).



***We here at My Iddah love to hear your comments and ideas. However, you must keep your comments respectful and constructive or you will be banned.***