In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- If you never had the intention to divorce your wife and never even contemplated divorcing her and you made the above statement in a state of extreme anger, then it cannot be deemed as a valid divorce.
2- So, do not consider yourself divorced from your wife simply based on such thoughtless remarks or statements; rather ask forgiveness of Allah and be resolved never to indulge in such reckless statements or behavior again
In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
Brother, you, first of all, have to keep in mind the fact that divorce is the most hated permissible thing in the sight of Allah. It dissolves families and deprives children the family atmosphere. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The most hateful permissible thing (al-Halal) in the sight of Allah is divorce.” (Reported by Abu Dawud)
The spouses should avoid divorce as much as possible. If they have difficulties and problems they should be patient and forbearing. They have to try to work out their differences and seek help from their relatives, friends or professional counselors.
Muslims must protect their family life. Using the words of divorce in haste or anger is not right. These words are serious and one should say them with the full understanding of the consequences.
If you never had the intention to divorce your wife and never even contemplated divorcing her and you made the above statement in a state of extreme anger, then it cannot be deemed as a valid divorce.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Actions are reckoned by their intentions.” (Al-Bukhari)
Moreover, you stated that you made the statement in a state of extreme anger. Concerning this issue, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “There is no (valid) divorce in an extreme state of anger.” (Abu Dawud)
This is due to the fact that in such a state, a person is not in his right mind; rather he may be unsure and unaware of his words and actions.
In this sense, he is no different than a drunkard whose actions are not considered valid in Islam.
Since marriage in Islam is a solemn contract, it cannot be broken by such whimsical words and actions that do not represent any premeditated intention on your part.
So, do not consider yourself divorced from your wife simply based on such thoughtless remarks or statements; rather ask forgiveness of Allah and be resolved never to indulge in such reckless statements or behavior again. It may be a good idea to expiate your mistake by offering any amount you can afford in charity to the poor.
After having said this, I must caution you against indulging in such impulsive behavior in the future. It is important that you keep in mind the following:
1- You must learn to control your anger: Remember anger is the vehicle of Satan, and unless we learn to control it, we may end up saying or doing things we will regret later. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised a man who had come to ask him for advice saying, “Don’t get angry”; when the man repeated the same question three times, the Prophet repeated his answer three times. What the Prophet meant was that we are not to allow ourselves to be carried away by our anger so that we do things that are either sinful or undesirable; rather we must restrain ourselves against such actions by realizing the ugliness of anger.
2- Divorce is the most abominable of all permissible things in the sight of Allah. That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that Satan will send his troops to seduce the children of Adam in diverse ways every day; when they return to him to report their day’s work he especially salutes those who have succeeded in splitting up a man and his wife. So never allow yourself to succumb to the temptations of Satan, but rather cherish your marriage and foster it.
3- It seems to me that you are unable to balance your duties towards your spouse with the duties you owe towards your parents, brothers and sisters. You should not compromise one for the other, but you should give each one his/her due. You must realize that no two members of your family are identical in nature, rather each is different from the other.
4- Often, due to ignorance, parents, brothers and sisters interfere in the marriage of their sons or brothers. They may simply be jealous of their in-law or harbor some kind of malice towards her, and they may even try to incite him against her. It is, therefore, the duty of the man to deal with the situation wisely. He should never neglect the dark side of human nature and never allow himself to be deceived by their stories about her. He needs to be firm and resolute in making them understand that they cannot interfere in his marriage, otherwise, he may end up by being unjust towards his wife. Remember that Islam considers injustice to be one of the worst crimes.
5- If there are outstanding issues between you and your wife and you are not able to sort them out, you should resort to counselling. If you are able to find qualified and knowledgeable people who have experience in this field then get their help.
That is the way to deal with problems in marriage rather than resorting to emotional outbursts and using the word of divorce to intimidate or take revenge. Using the words of divorce in this way is akin to jesting with the laws of Allah which are instituted for the purpose of restoring justice, equity and balance in settling human affairs. May Allah guide all of us to be truthful in our words and actions and may He save us all against the evil inclinations embedded in our nature.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.