Husband's intention is determining factor in promise of divorce
Fatwa No: 357580

  • Fatwa Date:3-1-2018 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 16, 1439
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I asked you about my issue before, but I did not get a clear answer; please give me a clear answer regarding my issue because it is urgent as my husband is coming to talk to me. My question was that my sisters and brothers-in-laws abuse me very badly, so I told my husband that I will not cook food for them. Then my husband said that if I would not cook food for them, he also had a condition; that I forever leave my mother and never talk to her, and otherwise our relationship would be over. My husband also mentally and physically abuses me, and he dislikes my mother. My mother supports me when my husband and in-laws abuse me, so he claims that my mother is the cause of every problem. He thinks that my mother teaches me to go against my husband and in-laws. I know that my mother is not like that. He thinks that I hate his brothers and sisters. On this condition, I decided to go to my parents' home, but then my husband stopped me by saying that I can do whatever I want but I should not go, so we started living as husband and wife anew, but he again started forcing me to cook food for them, and the arguments continued. Then, one night, on October 6, 2016, I asked my husband why he always forces me to cook food for them as I already told him that I would not do so. So my husband then said, "Leave your mother otherwise our relationship is over Talaaq (divorce)." Ever since, I have been living with my parents. My husband tells my parents and relatives that he has not divorced me. Please tell me whether I am divorced or not? Or was this just a threat? May Allah reward you with goodness.

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.

As for your husband's words to you, "Leave your mother otherwise our relationship is over Talaaq", if he intended a mere promise of divorce by that, then it has no effect (i.e. divorce did not take place). Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, "The promise of divorce does not make divorce effective, even if it is done using many expressions, and it is neither obligatory nor desirable to fulfill such a promise." [Majmoo‘ Al-Fataawa]

If he intended to make divorce conditional and you did not leave your mother in the sense that he meant, then divorce takes place according to the opinion of the majority of scholars regardless of whether he intended to issue a divorce or only intended to threaten you. However, Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah held that if the husband did not intend to issue a divorce, divorce does not take place, but he has to offer expiation for breaking an oath.

We would like to highlight the following points:

First, the wife is not obliged to serve her in-laws, and her husband has no right to oblige her to do so. If she serves her in-laws out of her own free will, then there is no harm in that; otherwise, she has the choice either to serve them or not.

Second, there should be mutual love, respect, and understanding between the husband and wife. If there is any misunderstanding between the husband and his wife's mother, it should be cleared. The husband should be told that the basic principle is to think well of other Muslims until otherwise is proven. If the mother-in-law truly encourages her daughter against her husband, then it is impermissible for her to obey her mother in this regard. The wife's obedience to her husband takes precedence over her obedience to her mother.

Third, it is Islamically required of the Muslim to maintain good relations with his in-laws, following the example of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who used to show kindness and affection towards all of his in-laws.

Allah knows best.

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