As in this case, it's clearly mentioned that a man used past tense (wife used to go to her sister's house without telling her husband). Later on the husband said that his intention was not to divorce his wife. What does Islam say regarding this situation? Jazakum Allahu khayran.
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
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- We should not take the words of divorce lightly. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that there are three matters that must be taken seriously whether said in earnest or jest: “marriage, divorce, and freeing of a slave.”
2- Therefore, a husband should never pronounce the words of divorce in whatever form without knowing the consequences.
3- Conditional divorce happens in case the husband intended divorce conditioned with doing or not doing an action.
In his response to your question, Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah, Member of the Executive Committee of the Fiqh Council of North America and the Religious Director of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, states:
Don’t Take Divorce Lightly
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Three things happen even if said in a joking manner.” He mentioned divorce as one of them.
If the wife knew that she would be divorced if she entered the house of her sister and she intentionally did it, divorce would be applicable.
In this case, Islam punishes the husband who put a wrong condition, but unfortunately a wife would also suffer because she knowingly violated the divorce condition. It is a very painful scenario but the divorce applies to it.
In case the husband did not intend to divorce his wife, but rather to threaten her, then there is a room for reconciliation. Only Allah knows the true intention.
Therefore, both the husband and wife need to look into their true intentions at the time when the conditional divorce was made and base their judgment on that true intention.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.