Do Uncontrollable Divorce Statements Due to Mental Health Issues Count?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question

A brother has some mental problems: he is not insane, but due to the issue he sometimes fails to control himself and may utter words that he doesn’t want to say. He understands what he utters, yet he sometimes can’t control himself.

If he utters words of divorce due to this issue will it count as divorce?

Answer

I pray you are well.

Uncontrollable vocal outbursts, such as what your friend experiences, are a well-known symptom of certain mental health conditions, such as Tourette Syndrome. Given that they are involuntary, a divorce would not occur with such a statement. This is akin to someone divorcing his wife verbally whilst asleep: it does not come into effect. [Haskafi, al-Durr al-Mukhtar; Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Maydani, Lubab]

Your friend can take solace in the hadith about involuntary thoughts: ‘Indeed, Allah has overlooked for my Umma what their minds say to them (involuntarily) as long as they don’t act or speak.” [Bukhari] Meaning, if anyone gets a stray thought about doing or saying something haram it is overlooked unless they willingly choose to act on it through action or speech.

In the same way, involuntary vocal outbursts are like thoughts that cannot be controlled. They have no legal consequence.

May Allah heal your friend and grant you both wellbeing.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with many erudite scholars. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Quranic recital and he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Quranic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.