Do Angry Phrases or Words That Indicate Separation Constitute a Divorce?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


Everything seems good at the moment. But I still worry occasionally. In the past, my husband and I have argued many times. He has said many sentences or words in anger that could mean separation. He said he did not intend to divorce. But I don’t know if I should believe him as he may not remember if he did.

He once said, “If there is violence, we are over.” I asked if over meant divorce. He said “Yes” to ask me to keep quiet. He did not know what conditional divorce was and did not intend it. Is that counted as one?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.

If your husband used unclear expressions that could mean divorce, his word is final about whether he meant it as divorce. If he made a conditional expression of divorce, then confirmed it by saying yes, then it is a valid conditional expression of divorce, and Allah knows best. [Nawawi, Majmu‘]

Plain Words of Divorce

The words that effect a divorce may be plain or allusive. Plain words effect divorce whether one intends it or not, while allusive words do not effect it unless one intends divorce thereby.

Using plain words to effect a divorce means expressly pronouncing the word divorce (in any language) or terms derived from it. When the husband says: “I divorce you” or “You are divorced,” the wife is immediately divorced whether he has made the intention.

In the rulings below, expressions such as “the wife is divorced” or “the divorce is effected” mean just one of the three times necessary to finalize it unless the husband intends a two or threefold divorce or repeats the words three times. [ibid.]

Allusive Words of Divorce

Using allusive words to effect a divorce includes:

  • The husband’s saying, “You are now alone,” “You are free,” “You are separated,” “You are parted,” “You are no longer lawful to me,” “Rejoin your kin,” “You are footloose,” and the like;
  • His saying, “I am divorced from you.”
  • Or when he commissions the wife to pronounce the divorce, and she says, “You are divorced.”
  • When someone asks the husband. “Do you have a wife?” He says, “No.”
  • Or when the husband writes words that effect the divorce, whether able or unable to speak at the time of writing, whether he is present or absent, or whether he writes in plain or allusive words.

When one intends divorce by any of the above, the words effect it, but if one does not, they do not. [ibid.]

Conditional Expressions that Effect Divorce

It is permissible to make the efficacy of a divorce conditional. If the husband makes the divorce conditional on something, and the event occurs, then the wife is divorced. If he says, “If your monthly period begins, you are divorced,” she is divorced when her menstrual flow appears. [ibid.]

If the husband says, “If you leave the house without my permission, you are divorced,” then gives her permission to go out, and she does but then goes out a second time without permission, she is not divorced. [ibid.]

If he says, “Anytime you go out without my permission, you are divorced,” then if she leaves at any time without permission, she is divorced.

Conditional Upon the Husband’s Act

When a husband makes a divorce conditional on one of his own acts but then does the act not remembering that he made it a condition or did the act because he is forced to, the wife is not divorced. [ibid.]

Conditional Upon a Third Party

When the husband makes a divorce conditional on another person’s act, such as by saying. “If So and so enters the house, you are divorced,” and the person enters before or after he knows it is a condition, whether remembering it or not, then if the person named is not someone who would mind if they were divorced (meaning it is no problem for him if it happens, and they would not be saddened if it did, because of lack of friendship for them), then the wife is divorced. But if the person knows it is a condition and enters forgetfully, then if he is someone who would mind if they were divorced, the wife is not divorced. [ibid.]

I pray that this benefits.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.