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You Are Here: Knowledge Base Family, Marriage and the upbringing of Children Marraige Contracts & Divorces

A man divorcing his wife three times has to be examined in detail

From `Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah Ibn Baz to the honorable brother, may Allah increase your knowledge and Iman (Faith). Amen.

As-salamu `alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh (May Allah's Peace, Mercy, and Blessings be upon you.)

I read your letter directed to the professors in the Islamic University in Madinah, referred to me by His Eminence, Deputy President of the Islamic University, as stated in the attached letter. I noticed that you inquired about two issues:
  • If a man divorces his wife three times, can he remarry her?
  • If a man asks his wife to go to her family, is this considered a divorce? Can he return her to him later?
A: First, a triple divorce should be clarified in detail. The husband may divorce her wife three times and then return her during the `Iddah (woman's prescribed waiting period after divorce or widowhood); he might remarry her after the end of her `Iddah, then divorce her again, and then return to her during the `Iddah or after it; and then divorce her for the third time. In this case, his wife is unlawful to him until she marries another man out of her own will and they have intercourse together. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says: And if he has divorced her (the third time), then she is not lawful unto him thereafter until she has married another husband.

The scholars unanimously agreed on this. There are other forms that take the same ruling according to most of the scholars, such as saying, "You are divorced, then divorced, then divorced", or "You are divorced, you are divorced, you are divorced" with no intention of confirmation; or "You are divorced, divorced and divorced" and the like. In all these cases, she is considered divorced three times, and he cannot return her to marriage unless she marries another man willingly and they have intercourse.
This is according to the mentioned Ayah (Qur'anic verse) and the Hadith reported on the authority of `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that Rifa`ah Al-Qurazhy divorced his wife three times, so she married `Abdul-Rahman ibn Al-Zubayr. She mentioned to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he could not have intercourse with her, so he (peace be upon him) said to her, "Do you want to return to Rifa`ah? You cannot do so until you have intercourse with your husband first." (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

One of the forms of triple divorce is saying: "You are divorced three times" in one pronouncement. The Jumhur (dominant majority of scholars) held the opinion that the triple divorce occurs and the wife becomes unlawful to her husband until she marries another man willingly and they have intercourse. They used as evidence the mentioned Ayah and that `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) passed it among the people. Other scholars considered that it is one occurrence of divorce, and the husband may return his wife to marriage during her `Iddah. If she finishes her `Iddah, he has to return to her by force of a new marriage contract.
The evidence of this is what was authentically reportedin the Sahih (authentic) Book of Muslim on the authority of Ibn `Abbas(may Allah be pleased with him) that he said, In the era of the Messenger of Allah, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and two years of the reign of `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), triple divorce was considered one occurrence of divorce. However, `Umar said that people have taken the matter of divorce lightly, so it should rather be considered an irrevocable divorce. Inanother narration by Muslim, Abu Al-Sahba' told Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), "Was triple divorce not considered one occurrence of divorce during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Abu Bakr and two years of the reign of `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him)?" He said, "Yes."

They also used as evidence what was related by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad (Hadith compilation) with a good Sanad (chain of narrators)on the authority of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that Abu Rukanah divorced his wife three times, then he regretted it, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) made her return to him and considered it one occurrence of divorce. This Hadith and the previous one are applied to triple divorce in one pronouncement to reconcile these two Hadiths and the previously mentioned Ayah. This opinion was held by Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) in an authentic narration reported from him, and he held the opinion of the majority in another narration.
This opinion is reported from `Aly, `Abdul-Rahman ibn `Awf, Al-Zubayr ibn Al-`Awwam (may Allah be pleased with them), some of the Tabi`un (Followers, the generation after the Companions of the Prophet), Muhammad ibn Is-haq the author of Al-Sirah, and a group of early and late scholars. This opinion was also chosen by the Shaykh-ul-Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah, and his student, the great scholar Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be merciful with them). We choose this opinion as it reconciles all the Nusus (Islamic texts from the Qur‘an or the Sunnah) and entails mercy to the Muslims.

Second, if a man says to his wife, "Go to your family", this should be clarified in detail.

If he says this with the intention of divorcing her, divorce takes place once, and he may return her to marriage as long as she is in her `Iddah.

If she finishes her `Iddah before returning to him, she becomes unlawful to him unless by force of a new marriage contract with its conditions prescribed by Shari`ah (Islamic law).

If he does not intend divorce, nothing takes place, and she is still in his `Ismah (the bond of marriage, i.e. the right to initiate divorce), because such a word is an indirect implication of divorce. Indirect words do not entail divorce unless it is accompanied by intention.
When Ka`b ibn Malik Al-Ansary (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked to keep away from his wife, he said to her, "Go to your family", but divorce did not take place, because he did not intend it; he only wanted her to stay at her family's until Allah judges in his matter together with his two companions who did not participate in the Battle of Tabuk. This tale is known in the biographies and battles of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and also in the Tafsir (exegesis of the meanings of the Qur'an) of Allah's Saying (Exalted be He) in Surah Al-Tawbah, And (He did forgive also) the three [who did not join the Tabūk expedition whose case was deferred (by the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasallam)] (for Allāh‘s Decision)

May Allah grant you, us and the rest of our brothers comprehension of religion, help us adhere to it, and grant us safety from delusive temptations. He is All-Hearing, Ever Near.

As-salamu `alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.

President of the Departments of Scholarly Research, Ifta', Da`wah and Guidance

Ibn Baz Fatwas>Volume 21>Book on Talaq>Chapter on the Numbers of Talaq>Divorcing the wife thrice is a matter that requires detailing