Divorce by text message or by signing divorce papers
Fatwa No: 354166

  • Fatwa Date:28-12-2017 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 10, 1439
  • Rating:

Question

Dear Sir, according to your fatwa number 314359, some scholars held that divorce does not take effect by merely signing the divorce papers. As stated by the respected Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem Aal Ash-Shaykh as well as in some of your fatwas, I came to understand that if the husband gives a divorce on sms without the intention of divorce, then divorce does not take effect. In view of the above, I want to ask: my first wife kept asking me to divorce my second wife, but I did not want to divorce my second wife; then one day my first wife told me that if I would not divorce my second wife, she would take a Khul‘ (divorce at the instance of the wife in return for a compensation payable by her) from me and take both my children with her to her country, so just in order to keep the peace and quiet and to keep my children with me, I sent an sms to my second wife that I divorced her, but I swear by Almighty Allah that I did not have any intention to divorce her; rather, my only intention was to keep my first wife in peace and quiet so that she would not take my children from me. Now, again, my first wife keeps telling me that an sms is not enough and that I should make divorce papers for the second wife and sign them. My question is, if any third person makes divorce papers and I only sign them without any intention to give a divorce to my second wife, does divorce take effect then, or does divorce take effect by only sending an sms without having the intention of divorce? May Allah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

Divorce does not take effect by sending an sms (text message) without holding the intention of issuing a divorce. This is because writing the words of divorce is a metaphor of divorce with which divorce does not take effect except if it is accompanied by the husband's intention, as we have previously underlined in fatwa 89894.

The ruling on signing the divorce papers is as you have learned from the fatwa of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem Aal Ash-Shaykh; the divorce does not take effect by signing them, even if someone else wrote the words of divorce.

Your wife has no right to force you to divorce your other wife or threaten to request a Khul‘ and seize the children from you. Verily, this is wicked and blameworthy. Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, forbade the Muslim woman from bringing about the divorce of her Muslim sister in order to “spill what is in her vessel” (i.e. deprive her of the blessings that she has). [Al-Bukhaari]

An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “The meaning of this hadeeth is that it is not permitted for a woman to ask a man to divorce his wife and marry her instead so that she becomes his only wife on whom he spends and who enjoys his kindness and with whom he has intercourse, etc. Depriving his first wife of these blessings was metaphorically described as spilling what is in her vessel...” [Sharh Saheeh Muslim]

If your second wife is a righteous woman, then keep her and try to appease your first wife and pacify her.

Allah knows best.

Related Fatwa