Rasulullah (sal lal laahu alay hi wa sal lam) was informed about a man who had divorced a woman by pronouncing three divorces, in one breath, and all at the same time. On hearing this, our Nabi(sal lal laahu alay hi wa sal lam) stood up in anger and said, ”Is this the book of Allah being played around with, even whilst I am in your midst”?
One of the companions then stood up saying, ”Shall I not kill him O Rasul of Allah”?
Hafiz ibn Qayyim, Hafiz ibn Hajar and Hafiz ibn Katheer have all confirmed that this hadith is authentic with sound narrators.
In a nutshell the religion of Islam recognizes three stages in the procedures of divorce and has entrusted to man the absolute right of pronouncing three divorces. This does not mean that it is essential for man to issue all three divorces, nor can it be said that even one be used because Islam never encourages divorce as it is the only detestable action condoned only under extreme circumstances. So, if there is no option left in a marriage besides divorce, then only one divorce should be pronounced, allowing the term of iddat to proceed as prescribed. Upon completion of the iddat, the marriage would be severed completely and the lady would be free to marry another man if she wants to. This method of divorce-with just one pronouncement- is the best system. In it lies the advantage of reconciliation during the period of iddat , and even after the expiry of the iddat, a re-marriage (second nikaah) between the same couple would be valid if only one or two clear cut divorces had been issued. However, it should be borne in mind that the pronouncing of the second divorce is unnecessary and disliked because thereafter the man is left with only the final option of his limit of three divorces after which the same couple can never re-marry without the process of Halaalah.
THE PROCESS OF HALAALAH
If the husband pronounces the divorce a third time, then the woman shall not be lawful for him unless that woman marries another man and the second husband consummates the marriage and thereafter, of his own free will, divorces her, and the woman fulfills the period of iddat-only under these conditions can the first husband remarry her. In shariah it is known as “Halaalah”. After “halaalah” the first husband shall remarry her only when they intend to fulfill their mutual obligations and keep within the divine limits, otherwise there is the danger of recurrence of mutual dissentions and encroachments of mutual rights and obligations, and falling into sin.
The effect of three divorces issued all at once
Q. If somebody issues three divorces (all at once) despite it being un-Islamic and disliked, what would be its effects?
A. The logical answer to this question is that the sin or wrong in any action cannot prevent the action from causing its effects.
Murder, being a sin, will not delay a victim’s death just to check whether or not the bullet was fired justly and fairly or another example that could be cited is that it is preferable to drink a glass of water in at least three sips. However, should the water be swallowed in one gulp, it will still be finished.
Therefore, if a person ignores the sunnah step-by-step method of divorce and opts to issue three divorces altogether, in one breath even at the displeasure of Rasulullaah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam his rash action will take effect immediately and become binding upon him in that he will lose not only the right of revoking the divorce but also the opportunity to re-marry the same women without having to go through the process of Halaalah.
The decision of Rasulullaah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam bears ample testimony to the fact that despite his anger upon the issuance of three divorces at once, he decreed them to be valid and effective. There are many Ahadeeth confirming that Rasulullaah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam implemented the uttering of three divorces all at once as the complete set of three divorces and NOT as one revocable divorce as some people think nowadays.
Ahaadeeth substantiating this point have been gathered by Moulana Muhammad Sarfaraaz of Pakistan in his book, “Umdatul Asaas.”
From the above it becomes clear that the decision of upholding the verdict that three simultaneous divorces are to be regarded as a set of three separate divorces (having the same binding effects) was that of Rasullullaah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam. Thereafter, Hadrat Umar Radiyallaahu anhu also passed a similar ruling which we gather from the following incident recorded in the famous Hadeeth book, Muslim Shareef, and many other kitaabs as well:
Hadrat Ibn Abbaas Radiyallaahu anhu reports that during the three eras-: the time of Rasulullaah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam, the reign of Hadrat Abu Bakr Radiyallaahu annhu, and the first two years of the Caliphate of Hadrat Umar Radiyallaahu annul-, three divorces were counted as one. So Hadrat Umar Radiyallaahu anhu declared that people are making haste in a matter wherein they had ease, hence it is preferable that we enforce it (i.e. the three divorces) upon them. So he enforced it upon them. ( Sahih Muslim: vol.1 p.77)
This announcement of the second Caliph was made in a general gathering of the Muslims after consultation with leading Sahaaba Ridwaanul laahi alaihim ajmaeen. There is no report of anyone opposing him or rejecting this decision. It is for this very reason that the Haafiz of Hadeeth, Imaam Abdul Barr Maaliki Alaihir Rahmah has reported consensus of opinion (ijma) on this issue.
The following is recorded in “Zurqaani”, the commentary of Mu’atta of Imaam Maalik Rahmatul laahi Alaihi: “The majority of the Ummah are unanimous that three divorces are effective, so much so that Allaamah Ibn Abdul Barr has recorded consensus of opinion (ijma) upon it saying that anything contrary to this is rare and towards which no attention should be directed. (Vol.3- p.167)
Imaam Tahaawee, has written:
“Hadrat Umar Radiyallaahu anhu announced this ruling to all the people, amongst whom were also those Companions of Rasulullaah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam who knew whether or not three divorces are one during the time of Rasulullah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam, but none of them rejected or opposed it.
From this ruling of Hadrat Umar Radiyallaahu Anhu, by means of Ijma (consensus of opinion) we learn that if three divorces are given they become effective and cause the marriage to break off instantly, and that without Halaalah the same couple cannot re-marry.
(Source: Qur’aan Tafseer by Husainiyyah Publications)
Proliferation of Divorces
The alarming explosion of the incidents of Talaaq in our present times is a cause for great concern. The mention of the word Talaaq which was at one time taboo in our communities has now become such a common and cheap word that in some marriages every argument features this word; either the husband threatens with it or the wife demands it. Forgotten is the grave warning of our Rasool Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam that Talaaq causes the grand throne of Allah to shudder. This is an expression to convey the utter abhorrence of Talaaq in Islam. Islam permits Talaaq in extremely unavoidable circumstances.
The sanctity of the sacred bond of Nikah and marriage has all but left the hearts of many. Nikah has almost become like another of the hundreds of disposable commodities in the market – disposable plates, cups, towels, lighters, etc. A casual and cavalier attitude is developing towards the institution of Nikah, an attitude that says if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter, we’ll live on – maybe try again. Some people have gone through a number of divorces in their lives without a care in the world.
What has contributed towards this deplorable state of affairs? A number of factors could be responsible for this recent proliferation of Talaaqs which has resulted in so many broken homes and shattered families. Lack of proper Islamic education is one big factor. Lack of fear of Allah is another. Selfishness, hard-heartedness, stubbornness, callousness, an uncompromising attitude are other factors. Never overlook the devastating effect of western culture and values in the home – it is poison for the Muslim marriage. Inability to handle the pressures of marriage and an escapist attitude is a major factor. Anger is another dangerous factor. When a person loses control of his anger and flies into a towering rage, he can do the most drastic and foolish of things in the world. The fruits of anger are very bitter. Sayyidina Rasoolullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam has mentioned: “The beginning of anger is madness and the end result is sorrow and regret.” Whatever the cause maybe, in order to gain some temporary, imaginary victory, or to score a few points in one’s favour, an extremely short-sighted decision is taken and the long term implications are totally ignored.
In almost all instances the short sightedness adopted in handling the situation by giving or demanding the Talaaq results in much regret, misery, sorrow and heartache later on. Often the damage is too extensive to rescue or salvage the situation. At that time, a frantic effort is launched to obtain fatwas or rulings to reverse the devastating damage of Talaaq, but to no avail. Even if a fatwa is obtained under false pretences or grounds, it cannot render lawful that which Allah has rendered unlawful and forbidden.
Nowadays, some parents and family elders too adopt an indifferent, casual attitude and hardly bring any pressure on the warring couple to pull together and resolve their differences. The sad reality in some instances is that parents and other family members have actively promoted the process of disintegration of the marriage and encouraged the Talaaq! At times, they simply shut the door on any discussion or dialogue to address the problem. Sometimes, the pride of the parents or family comes even before the interest of the couple who inwardly are willing to reconcile but do not have much say because of family pressures.
Then there is the wider Muslim community that sits by as spectators, as if watching some boxing or wrestling match. They are content to pass remarks and indulge in idle gossip on the sad state of affairs. This is a very dangerous attitude. The fire of divorces and marriage breakdown is spreading while people are watching idly. Allah Ta’aala knows whose house will burn down next if the situation is not arrested in good time. The least that the general public can do when they hear about a marital dispute is to make fervent Dua that Allah must give Hidaayat and understanding to the couple and save their marriage. To save marriages, Islam has actually permitted the speaking of “white” lies if that will bring about some degree of reconciliation between the spouses. If the situation is left to spiral out of control, the fabric of our society will be rent asunder. Dozens of divorced women (and men) are not healthy for the well being of society. Tolerance has to be exercised.
Just as the factors of Talaaq are numerous, the solutions to the problem are also multi-faceted. Mass-scale educational programmes on matrimonial matters are an absolute imperative. Through the pulpit and various Islamic media, both print and electronic, a sustained educational campaign is crucial. Spiritual programs that contribute towards Allah-consciousness and fear of accountability are absolutely imperative and need to increase many fold. Attitudes and outlooks need to be changed. Rectification of character and conduct – Islahe–Nafs – is a crying need. Marriage counselling with an Islamic orientation must be increased dramatically. Pre-marital educational programs should become compulsory for all prospective couples – boys and girls. A decadent lifestyle and western values have to be shunned and spurned if a marriage is to work and thrive. Islamic values based on simplicity, humility and a Sunnah way of life is a guarantee for a happy married life. With these concerted efforts, the tide will slowly turn, Insha-Allah. The rot will be remedied and a solid and firm family structure will result. This in turn will become the bedrock of solid communities, giving rise to a mighty Ummah. For those who are experiencing marital problems, please don’t simply throw the towel in and walk out. Please be patient, forgive, forget and overlook, make duas, seek help and guidance, make one more attempt to make it work – this time it might work out with Allah’s help!