How are the Words and Customary Expressions of Divorce in Non-Arabic Languages Viewed in Sacred Law?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

When non-Arabic expressions of divorce (such as “you are free from me” and “I free you from our relationship”) are used in some countries to effect divorce and are understood to be explicit (sarih), does this effect a divorce without an intention to do so?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. We pray that Allah guides us to lives of peace and contentment in this life and the next.

Explicit and Allusive Expressions of Divorce

Expressions such as “you are free from me” and “I free you from our relationship” in any language are allusive terms (kinaya). Allusive expressions do effect divorce, but only if the husband intended to divorce thereby. If he did not intend to divorce thereby, then no divorce took place. [Al-Shirbini, Mughni Al-Muhtaj]

Divorce in a Language Other than Arabic

Only the word ‘divorce (talaq),’ when translated into any language, is considered explicit (sarih) and will therefore effect a divorce with or without the intention to do so. [Al-Shirbini, Mughni Al-Muhtaj]

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.