Does Intercourse Completely Reset the Number of Divorces Back to Zero?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

My wife has severe anger issues due to clinical anxiety. During a couple of highly emotional arguments/fights, she asked me for a divorce, and I uttered those words. Once both of us cooled down, we had intercourse. This has already happened twice in the last few months. My question is, would it be our final divorce if I utter the exact words the 3rd time? As in, we can no longer have intercourse and get back together.

My wife has spoken to other Muftis, and she’s under the impression that each time you have intercourse after the divorce, it resets the divorce counter.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

In one line, intercourse does not reset previously pronounced divorces back to zero.

Longer Answer

When a divorce is pronounced, it is final and counts toward the three. This divorce is revoked by the husband revoking it or by anything that would indicate a revokement, such as kissing or intercourse. [Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

Once the third and final divorce is pronounced, both parties are forbidden for the other, and the separation is immediate, although she must go through the waiting period before remarrying. [Ibid.]

Can They Ever Reunite?

The only way the two parties can reunite is if the ex-wife remarries, consummates the marriage, happens to be divorced again, and both parties then agree to remarry. In such a case, the divorces allowed will return to zero under a new marriage contract.

Allah Most High says, “So if a husband divorces his wife ˹three times˺, then it is not lawful for him to remarry her until after she has married another man and then is divorced. Then it is permissible for them to reunite as long as they feel they can maintain the limits of Allah. These are the limits set by Allah, which He makes clear for people of knowledge.” [Quran, 2:230]

Note that doing this intentionally to get back together is strictly prohibited (haram). [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani  

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.