Is Anything in this Conversation Considered a Valid Divorce?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question 

Is the following text conversation considered a divorce?

Wife: I want a divorce; I am not going to give you any more chances
Husband: F*** you, go to hell, I don’t give a s***, stop texting me and p*** me off
Wife: This is not the first time, but it will be the last
Husband: good for you
Wife: I promise
Husband: Do whatever you want, dumb a**, I don’t care, I only need my son, and you do whatever you want
Wife: Be happy and thank you, you did that, and now I can make the best decision for me
Husband: good
Wife: your next girlfriend/wife will never argue with you
Husband: Man, stop texting me
Wife: get me out of this house, Amar ticket Kati daw, you will never see my face.
Husband: I don’t have a problem with you or your face. You can stay. Stop texting me.

In the second part of the conversation, Wife: haha, actually, you know what, I don’t want to stay, I want a separation, I gave you enough chances, and you still didn’t fix yourself, and you are not even guilty, so yeah I took my decision
Husband: well, I don’t want anything, if you want, you can do it yourself, and you can’t go now. Wait till your green card and then renew your passport, and my son will stay with me. I don’t trust him with you.

After that, we had many more conversations; I asked for separation again; this time, he didn’t comment on it, but when I asked to go back to my country, he said I could only go when my green card and passport came, and he won’t let our son come with me. Do any of his words count as a divorce?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide every dimension of our lives to that which pleases Him.

While disturbing and completely inappropriate, the conversation, mainly because it is a text conversation, does not contain explicit divorce announcements. However, your husband said, “if you want, you can do it yourself, and you can’t go now. Wait till your green card.” His words could have been an allusive form of commissioning you (giving you the right to) pronounce the divorce, but his intentions should have been clarified. If he had intended to give you the right to divorce, then the rules below apply, and Allah knows best.

Commissioning Another Party to Effect One’s Divorce

The person conducting the divorce may effect it himself or commission another to do so, even if the person commissioned is a woman [even his wife]. The person commissioned may effect the divorce at any time (provided the one who commissions him does not cancel the commission before the divorce takes place, though when a husband tells his wife, “Divorce yourself”, then if she immediately says, “I divorce myself”, she is divorced, if she delays, she is not divorced unless the husband has said, “Divorce yourself whenever you wish.” [Misri, ‘Umdat al-Salik]

I suggest that you approach a local Islamic Judiciary or panel of learned, God-fearing scholars to assist you with determining what your husband’s intention was and whether he commissioned you to pronounce the divorce yourself.

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.

When a husband is asked, “Have you divorced your wife?” and he says “Yes,” she is divorced even if he does not intend it. [Keller, Reliance of the Traveler]

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.]

Counseling Disclaimer

Given the considerations in such cases, we urge you to please consult reliable local scholars or counselors about the specifics of the situation. Jazakum Allah khayran. May Allah facilitate all ease and good for you.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[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 pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.