And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted [with all things]. -- Qur'an 4:35

I'm wondering how this is ordinarily implemented when marital problems arise; just an general outline of how one would go about this.

Question: When marital problems arise, how is arbitration as per Qur'an 4:35 conducted?

It might be a simple process of getting their respective family members to chat it out (which might be difficult to organize mid-dispute), but I'm unsure. There's services such as Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, which writes:

MAT also provides mediation services for married couples or families who are experiencing disputes in the following: dowry, children of the marriage, family matters, etc. MAT will instruct two mediators from the panel to listen to both sides of the dispute and will endeavour to reach a decision which both sides are in agreement with.

But this doesn't seem in accordance with Qur'an 4:35, with both parties appointing arbitrators from their respective parties.


According to Ibn Kathir:

And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people.

The Fuqaha' (scholars of Fiqh) say that when estrangement occurs between the husband and wife, the judge refers them to a trusted person who examines their case in order to stop any wrongs commited between them. If the matter continues or worsens, the judge sends a trustworthy person from the woman's family and a trustworthy person from the man's family to meet with them and examine their case to determine whether it is best for them to part or to remain together.

Allah gives preference to staying together, and this is why Allah said,

If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them.

Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "Allah commands that a righteous man from the husband's side of the family and the wife's side of the family are appointed, so that they find out who among the spouses is in the wrong. If the man is in the wrong, they prevent him from his wife, and he pays some restitution. If the wife is in the wrong, she remains with her husband, and he does not pay any restitution. If the arbitrators decide that the marriage should remain intact or be dissolved, then their decision is upheld. If they decide that the marriage remains intact, but one of the spouses disagrees while the other agrees, and one of them dies, then the one who agreed inherits from the other, while the spouse who did not agree does not inherit from the spouse who agreed.'' This was collected by Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir.

Shaykh Abu Umar bin Abdul-Barr said, "The scholars agree that when the two arbitrators disagree, then the opinion that dissolves the marriage will not be adopted. They also agree that the decision of the arbitrators is binding, even if the two spouses did not appoint them as agents. This is the case if it is decided that they should stay together, but they disagree whether it is binding or not when they decide for separation.'' Then he mentioned that the majority holds the view that the decision is still binding, even if they did not appoint them to make any decision.

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  • Thanks. This gives me the impression that this kind of arbitration is only for "we're considering divorce"-level problems. – Rebecca J. Stones Jun 8 '17 at 1:43
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones Yes you can say that! – Casanova Jun 8 '17 at 19:23

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