Islam And Divorce

Three Divorces in One Session

In Islam, divorce should be avoided as much as possible. The Prophet has been reported to have said that in the eyes of Allah, divorce is the most hated of all permissible acts; and it should only be performed as a last resort. Islam encourages family mediators to be called,[1] and divorce should be pronounced on three separate occasions following a three-month waiting period before becoming irrevocable. The Qur’an says,

“Divorce is only permissible twice, after which the parties should either stay together in a goodly manner, or separate with kindness. 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 that they will keep the limits ordained by Allah.”[2]

Unfortunately, some non-Shi‘a Muslim jurists allow a husband to divorce his wife irrevocably by issuing three divorce pronouncements in a single occasion, which is clearly opposed to the intent of the Noble Qur’an. It has been narrated in the books of sahhah, as well as in other books,[3] that the three divorce pronouncements in one session was considered as only one legal divorce during the time of the Prophet, the first caliph, and the first two years of the second caliph’s rule. After that, the second caliph allowed the three pronouncements in one session to be considered as a three legal divorce, and hence the wife would be unable to go back to her husband.[4]

[1] Noble Quran, 4.35.
[2] Noble Quran, 2:229-230
[3] Sirat ibn Ishaq, Vol. 2, 191
[4] Sahih Muslim, “Chapter on the Three Divorces”, Vol. 1, 575; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol. 1, 314; al-Bayhaqi, Vol. 7, 336

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