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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 21: Divorce (Hadith -- The Traditions)


Chapter 21:
Divorce (Hadith -- The Traditions):


(Note: The superscript-numbers [e.g., intention2] that appear in the text [in pink] refer to the numbers of the explanatory footnotes that appear at the end of each Hadith [Tradition].)


1 Ibn `Umar reported,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"With Allah, the most detestable of all things permitted is divorce." 1 (AD. 13 : 3.)

1 This hadith shows that divorce should be resorted to only in cases of extreme hardship. A Muslim is required to face the difficulties of the married life, and to avoid disruption of family relations, so long as possible, turning to divorce only as a last resort.


2 Thauban said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"Whatever woman asks for divorce from her husband without any harm, the sweet odour of paradise shall be forbidden to her."2 (Ah. 5, 277.)

2 This hadith recognises the right of the wife to demand a divorce, so much so that she may demand it even without any harm being caused to her, though she is told that in such a case she will displease God.


3 Ibn `Abbas reported,
The wife of Thabit ibn Qais came to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, and said, O Messenger of Allah! I do not find fault in Thabit ibn Qais regarding his morals or faith, but I hate disbelief in Islam. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him : "Wilt thou return to him his orchard?" She said, Yes. So the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said (to Thabit) : "Accept the orchard and divorce her."
3 (B. 68 : 12.)

3 In this case, the wife had no specific complaint against her husband, and there was neither desertion, nor ill-treatment. She said that she could not pull on with him, and her right to have a divorce was not refused. But she was required to return the orchard which the husband had given to her as dowry. This is technically called khul`, lit., undoing of a knot. The words I hate disbelief in Islam mean that she could not pull on with him as a faithful Muslim wife should; according to another version the words are la utiqu-hu, i.e., I cannot bear him.


4 Ibn `Umar reported,
He divorced his wife while she was menstruating. `Umar mentioned this to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, so the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, became displeased on account of this and said:

"He should take her back, then keep her until she is clean, then menstruates and (again) becomes clean; if it then appears to him that he should divorce her, he should divorce her while she is in a clean condition; before he approaches her. This is the `iddah as Allah has commanded it."4 (B. 65 : 65.)

4 This hadith relates to procedure in the matter of divorce. It shows that divorce is not effective unless it is pronounced when the wife is clean. `Iddah, or the period during which a woman must wait before remarrying, is stated in v. 4 (2 : 228) to be three quru.' The word quru' is plural of qar' which signifies the entering from the state of cleanness into a state of menstruation, and is in normal cases about four weeks.


5 Ibn `Abbas said,
The (procedure of) divorce in the time of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, in that of Abu Bakr and for two years in the caliphate of `Umar ibn al-Khattab, was that divorce uttered thrice (on one occasion) was considered as one divorce. Then `Umar said, People have made haste in a matter in which there was moderation for them; so we may make it take effect with regard to them. So he made it take effect with regard to them.
5 (Ah. I, 314.)

5 See note on h. 7.


6 Mahmud ibn Labid said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, was informed about a man who divorced his wife, divorcing (her) three times together, so he stood up in displeasure and said:

"Is the Book of Allah being sported with while I am in your midst?" (Ns. 27 : 6.)


7 Rukanah ibn `Abd Yazid reported,
He divorced his wife Suhaimah thrice and informed the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, about it and said, I call Allah to witness that I intended only a single (divorce). The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"Dost thou call Allah to witness that thou didst not intend but a single (divorce)?" He said, Yes, I call Allah to witness that I did not intend but a single (divorce). So the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, returned her back to him, and he divorced her a second time in the time of `Umar, and a third time in the time of `Uthman.6 (AD. 13 : 14.)

6 This hadith and h. 5 show that divorce uttered on one occasion, whether uttered once or thrice -- in fact, any number of times, -- counts only as one divorce, and this was made clear by the Holy Prophet himself; while h. 6 shows that pronouncing divorce thrice on a single occasion is un-Islamic. Even the jurists call it talaq bid'i (an innovation), but they consider it irrevocable in terms of 2 : 230; as these hadith show, the Holy Prophet did not consider it such. The procedure of talaq according to Islam is laid down clearly in the Holy Qur'an. It is to be pronounced once while the woman is in a clean condition, and it is followed by a period of waiting, called the `iddah (65 : 1), during which the parties may be reconciled to each other, or after which the parties may marry each other again (2 : 228, 232). Such a divorce, called a revocable divorce, may be pronounced twice (2 : 229), the option for reconciliation or remarriage being with the parties; but if it is uttered a third time, it becomes irrevocable as laid down in 2 : 230. `Umar's object in making effective three divorces pronounced on one occasion (h. 5) was to warn the people that they would have to take the evil consequences of following an un-Islamic practice, but the result is just the contrary of what he intended. This hadith shows that whenever a woman was divorced, whether the divorce was on that occasion pronounced once or thrice, it was a single act of divorce and revocable. Divorce became irrevocable only when two revocable divorces were first pronounced, hence the occasion for the third divorce spoken of in 2 : 230 was a rare event.


8 `Ali said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, cursed the man who committed halalah and the one for whom halalah was committed.
7 (AD. 12 : 15.)

7 In pre-Islamic Arabia the divorce was pronounced thrice and was irrevocable, and remarriage between the parties required the wife to go through a temporary marriage with another husband who divorced her after having sexual connection with her. This practice was called halalah (lit., making a thing lawful). Without going through it, it was not lawful for the divorced pair to return to marital relations, Islam did not recognise temporary marriage (H. xx : 4); and therefore halalah was denounced. The marriage after an irrevocable divorce spoken of in 2 : 230 is quite different, being a perpetual marital tie.


9 Mutarrif reported,
`Imran was asked about a man who divorced his wife, then he had intercourse with her, and he did not call witnesses on the occasion of the divorce, nor on taking her back. `Imran said, Thou divorcest against the Sunnah and takest back against the Sunnah; have witnesses on the occasion of her divorce and on taking her back.
8 (IM. 10 : 5.)

As marriage is a public act, so is divorce; it must be pronounced in the presence of witnesses. He was told to learn the art of writing and then write down hadith.


10 `A'ishah said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, gave us option; so we chose Allah and His Messenger; this was not reckoned for us as anything.
9 (B. 68 : 5.)

9 The wives of the Holy Prophet demanded certain comforts which in the later days of the Holy Prophet's life fell to the lot of Muslim women generally. Just then the Holy Prophet received a revelation telling him to give his wives the option of remaining with him without these comforts, or to have the material benefits and get themselves divorced. They chose the first alternative. This was not a divorce.


11 Ibn al-Musayyab said,
When a person is found missing while fighting, his wife shall wait for one year.
10 (B. 68 : 22.)

10 So that if no news of the husband is received within this period, the wife can marry, Imam Malik holds the view that in all cases where the husband is mafqud al-khabar, the wife should wait for four years and may marry after this.


12 `Abd Allah reported,
A man from among the Ansar accused his wife of adultery; so the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, asked them both to take an oath, then he ordered them to be separated from each other.
11 (B. 68 : 27.)

11 The procedure of li`an, when a husband accuses the wife of adultery and there is no evidence, is laid down in the Holy Qur'an (24 : 6-9). The marital relation is in this case cut off. The dowry remains the wife's. (B. 68 : 53).


13 Ibn `Umar used to say, with respect to ila' about which Allah has spoken,
It is not lawful for any one after the prescribed time (of four months) has passed away, except that he should either keep (the wife) in good fellowship or resolve upon divorce.
12 (B. 68 : 21.)

12 Ila' is spoken of in the Holy Qur'an in the following words : "Those who swear that they will not go in to their wives should wait four months. (2 : 225).

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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 21: Divorce (Hadith -- The Traditions)

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