Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Zihar Definition:

Muslim law: an insult proffered by a husband upon his wife which likens the wife to some prohibited female relation of his, and exposes the husband to divorce.

Related Terms: Talaq

For example, zihar is committed by the Muslim husband saying to his Muslim wife:

“You are like my mother.”

Or, to quote from Al-Awwa:

“You are for me as untouchable as the back of my mother.”

The similar insult of a Muslim wife to her Muslim husband does not constitute zihar but the Muslim husband always has the option of talaq in any event.

In Muslim law, is insult is considered so serious that it may form grounds for divorce.

Verma writes that upon being subjected to zihar:

“In such case the wife may refuse herself to him till he performs penance by way of passing for two months or feeding 60 persons or (she) may apply to the court for an order requiring him either to perform the penance or to pronounce a regular talaq.”


  • Al-Awwa, Muhammad Salim, “The Basis of Islamic Penal Legislation”, published in The Islamic Criminal Justice System (Rome: Oceana Publications Inc., 1982), page 138
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Legal Definition of Talaq
  • Verma, B.R., Islamic Law-Personal Being Commentaries on Mohammedan Law in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, 6th Edition (Allahabad, India: Law Publishers, 1986), page 224

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