Talāq out of Anger

Since 2012-12-06

My husband divorced me three times and after the third ṭalāq he told me that he got a fatwa from an imam that all three were invalid as they were given in anger. However, I doubt this as one of them was given without any anger. What shall I do now?



My husband divorced me three times and after the third ṭalāq he told me that he got a fatwa from an imam that all three were invalid as they were given in anger. However, I doubt this as one of them was given without any anger. What shall I do now?

All praise be to Allah and may blessings and salutation be upon His Messenger, Muhammad, his family, and Companions.
The question that has been asked is extremely common, and constantly raised by both Muslim men and women. Essentially, the question relates to the utterance of divorce in anger, and the differences that arise between spouses as to their interpretations of events.
There are two important legal rulings (pertaining to the utterance of divorce in anger) that are agreed upon by all jurists:
1. If a person utters the divorce in a fit of rage or fury whereby he may be technically considered temporarily insane, then such an utterance is not to count as a valid divorce.

2. If a person utters the divorce in a state of anger fully aware of what he is doing as well as the subsequent consequences then such a divorce is valid, and if the utterance is a third divorce, then there is no recourse to reconciliation and the couple are deemed unlawful to each other. Any intimacy after that is considered to be an illegal sexual relation and might be considered zina (adultery).

To claim that a divorce said out of anger is invalid is both baseless and irrational, since there is no legal text that claims that mere anger acts as a valid impediment, nor do people generally utter the divorce in a state of jubilation – divorces are nearly always uttered out of annoyance and anger.

In general, couples should contact a scholar who is known to be trustworthy and knowledgeable in these matters who will analysis each case separately. Individuals should not apply general rulings related to ṭalāq on themselves due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Another often recurring scenario is that men are incited by their wives to utter the divorce, usually during a heated row. We learn from divine revelation that Allah says,

{Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means.}[An-Niss'a 4:34]
{الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّـهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ} النساء 34
Transliteration: Alrrijalu qawwamoona AAala alnnisai bima faddala Allahu baAAdahum AAalabaAAdin wabima anfaqoo min amwalihim
Thus men must learn to act with decorum and assertiveness, and not be goaded into doing or saying things they do not mean. In their role as protectors, they must take additional steps (and more so than women) to ensure that the rights of their women and children are maintained and that life decisions which impact on those beyond the partners are not made merely by foolish utterances.
Similarly, anger (besides that which is felt for the sake of Allah) is a spiritual illness that easily consumes the individual and leads him to become a play thing of the devil.
Many people assume that anger is a sign of manhood or strength, but in actual fact it is a severe weakness that allows shaytan to overcome him. A case in point is men who use divorce as intimidation pronouncing it out of a misplaced sense of supremacy, but then weep at the prospect of having to separate from their wives and may have to give up the general custody of their children. Such points are often overlooked by the male ego, and in quelling it, the Prophet (peace be upon him), as narrated by Abu Hurairah, said,
“The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong one is the one who controls himself whilst in a state of anger.”[Reported by: Bukhari]
«ليس الشديد بالصرعة، إنما الشديد الذي يملك نفسه عند الغضب» رواه البخاري

Abu Hurairah also reported that a man sought advice from the Prophet, to which he replied, “Do not become angry." The man repeated his request several times to which the Prophet said in each case, “Do not become angry.”[Reported by: Bukhari]
أن رجلا قال للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: أوصني، قال: (لا تغضب). فردد مرارا، قال: (لا تغضب)» رواه البخاري
Anger is the opposite of patience, with patience being a key characteristic of the God-conscious, pious, and righteous. Allah repeatedly states in the Qur’an that “verily Allah is with those of patience,” which implies that those who forsake patience also forsake the divine benefits that accompany it. Allah says,
{Those who spend (in Allahs Cause - deeds of charity, alms, etc.) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the righteous).} [Ali-Imran 3:134]
{الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ} آل عمران: 134
Transliteration: Allatheena yunfiqoona fee alssarrai waalddarrai waalkathimeena alghaytha waalAAafeena AAani alnnasi waAllahu yuhibbu almuhsineena

Muslim men should understand the role that Allah has given them, and act maturely with it. Allah ordains men to live honourably with women, for {if you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.} [An-Nisa'a 4:19]
{فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا} النساء: 19
Transliteration: fain karihtumoohunna faAAasa an takrahoo shayan wayajAAala Allahu feehi khayran katheeran
As with all beings women are also weak, and so it is in the interest of men to rise as leaders in overlooking the faults of their wives and advise them with a cool mind and a reasoned tongue. Allah says,
{O you who believe! Verily, among your wives and your children there are enemies for you (i.e. may stop you from the obedience to Allah), therefore beware of them! But if you pardon (them) and overlook, and forgive (their faults), then verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.} [At-Taghabun 64:14]
{يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجِكُمْ وَأَوْلَادِكُمْ عَدُوًّا لَّكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُمْ ۚوَإِن تَعْفُوا وَتَصْفَحُوا وَتَغْفِرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ} التغابن: 14
Transliteration: Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo inna min azwajikum waawladikum AAaduwwan lakum faihtharoohum wain taAAfoo watasfahoo wataghfiroo fainna Allaha ghafoorun raheemun

Undoubtedly there will be times when arguments become heated and spouses become irritated, but why must divorce be the only end to an argument or frustrating situation? Allah says that
{if you fear a breach between them twain (the man and his wife), appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family and the other from hers; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allah is Ever All Knower, Well Acquainted with all things.} [An-Nisa'a 4:35]
{وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُوا حَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا إِن يُرِيدَا إِصْلَاحًا يُوَفِّقِ اللَّـهُ بَيْنَهُمَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا خَبِيرًا} النساء: 35
Transliteration: Wain khiftum shiqaqa baynihimafaibAAathoo hakaman min ahlihi wahakaman min ahliha in yureedaislahan yuwaffiqi Allahu baynahuma inna Allaha kanaAAaleeman khabeeran
All of these are in effect checks and balances to ensure that if the couples do separate, they do so for the correct reasons and not over imprudent opinion.
The main reason as to the rise in queries relating to divorce uttered in anger ultimately lies in the absence of Islamic authority amongst Muslims in the UK and other western countries. Furthermore, many imams and ‘scholars’ lack the required shar’ii (legal) knowledge and expertise to deal with such problems in a diverse society and under complicated circumstances. Many imams, with good intentions, want to help couples stuck in sticky situations and so issue lenient fatwas. They fail to realize that matters related to ṭalāq are incredibly sensitive and delicate. The existence of various madhabs (legal schools of thought) that are adhered to by western Muslims also adds to the complexity of the situation.
In most cases, the matter is not as simple as merely requiring a standard fatwa from an imam, rather it is a matter of judgment carried out by a qualified scholar who is trusted and accepted as legitimate by both spouses. The spouses should be required to sit with the scholar and detail their cases in order to receive a verdict that should be binding on both of them - preferably by prior written agreement.
Once a wife believes that she has been divorced three times, she is not allowed to stay with her ex-husband. Allah says in the Qur’an,
{The divorce is twice, after that, either you retain her on reasonable terms or release her with kindness. And it is not lawful for you (men) to take back (from your wives) any of your dowry which you have given them, except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah. Then if you fear that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained by Allah, then there is no sin on either of them if she gives back (the dowry) for her Al-Khul (divorce). These are the limits ordained by Allah, so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits ordained by Allah, then such are the Zalimoon (wrong-doers, etc.). And if he has divorced her (the third time), then she is not lawful unto him thereafter until she has married another husband. Then, if the other husband divorces her, it is no sin on both of them that they reunite, provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by Allah. These are the limits of Allah, which He makes plain for the people who have knowledge.} [Al-Baqara 2:229-230]
{الطَّلَاقُ مَرَّتَانِ ۖ فَإِمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَانٍ ۗ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَأْخُذُوا مِمَّا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا إِلَّا أَن يَخَافَا أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ ۖ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا فِيمَا افْتَدَتْ بِهِ ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا ۚ وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ ﴿٢٢٩﴾ فَإِن طَلَّقَهَا فَلَا تَحِلُّ لَهُ مِن بَعْدُ حَتَّىٰ تَنكِحَ زَوْجًا غَيْرَهُ ۗ فَإِن طَلَّقَهَا فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا أَن يَتَرَاجَعَا إِن ظَنَّا أَن يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ ۗوَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ يُبَيِّنُهَا لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ } البقرة: 229-230
Transliteration: Alttalaqu marratani faimsakun bimaAAroofin aw tasreehun biihsanin wala yahillu lakum an takhuthoo mimmaataytumoohunna shayan illa an yakhafaalla yuqeema hudooda Allahi fain khiftum alla yuqeema hudooda Allahi fala junaha AAalayhima feema iftadat bihi tilkahudoodu Allahi fala taAAtadooha waman yataAAadda hudooda Allahi faolaika humu alththalimoona (229)Fain tallaqaha fala tahillu lahu min baAAdu hatta tankiha zawjan ghayrahu fain tallaqaha fala junaha AAalayhima an yatarajaAAa in thanna an yuqeemahudooda Allahi watilka hudoodu Allahi yubayyinuha liqawmin yaAAlamoona
If the husband claims that one or more of the divorces are invalid, the matter does not end there. As a sane and intellectual being, the woman herself must be convinced that this is the case and it is between herself and her Lord as to whether she truly accepts this or not; she is obliged not to return to her partner if she believes the three divorces to be valid. For both parties concerned, the best solution both rationally and spiritually is for the spouses to apply the same scenario mentioned earlier – that is to receive a sound ruling carried out by a qualified scholar who is trusted and accepted as legitimate by both spouses.

And Allah knows best.




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