Saying ‘divorce happened’ in reference to a past divorce is not a new divorce
Fatwa No: 317059

  • Fatwa Date:28-2-2016 - Jumaadaa Al-Oula 20, 1437
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Question

Dear Scholar. I was talking to my mother-in-law and informed her that my husband gave me one divorce and that now two are left. My husband was sitting with me and said, "Divorce happened," confirming the previous divorce that he gave me. I asked him again what he meant and he said that he was referring to the previous incidence in which I claimed that he gave me one divorce with the words, "I divorce you," while he says that his intention was only to threaten me although in our society most people use these words to utter divorce. Now I am really disturbed because of his saying "Divorce happened." I hope this words did not constitute a new divorce since in my sentence I only mentioned one divorce and he only responded to that.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

If the husband said to his wife “divorce happened,” while intending to relate a past incident and not to issue a new divorce, then it does not count and divorce does not take effect in this case. Kashshaaf Al-Qinaa’ (a Hanbali book) reads:

... (Among the conditions of divorce being valid is) intending the meaning of divorce when uttering the words of divorce, in the sense that he does not intend another meaning than its semantic meaning. Hence, when a teacher or Fiqh scholar repeats the word of divorce to explain and discuss issues of divorce and how it takes place, divorce does not actually take effect. The same applies in the case of one who utters the word of divorce without intending to issue a divorce, as the case when narrating that someone else divorced his wife ...” [End of quote]

As for the past divorce, if the husband uttered the words of divorce in the present tense (I divorce you), then divorce did not take effect unless the common practice in your community is to issue a divorce (with immediate effect) in the present tense. In this case, divorce takes effect, as underlined in fatwa 269398.

It should be noted that the husband should not hasten to issue a divorce whenever facing marital problems. There are many prescribed means to solve marital problems. The spouses should beware of all that could cause problems between them and always try to maintain mutual understanding and respect between them.

Allaah knows best.

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