Is the Verbal Divorce Valid without Witnesses? Where to Spend the Idda’?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question

My husband verbally gave me a talaq, but there were no witnesses, and we have not yet signed any divorce papers. Is the divorce valid? Must the documents be signed before it is accepted, or is that just a formality? Also, do I have to move out of the house during the idda’ period, or can I stay?

Answer

Firstly, one needs to establish whether your husband pronounced the divorce correctly. A husband issues a divorce by uttering the words of divorce. He thus says to his wife, “I divorce you” or “You are divorced.” He may also divorce his wife with an implied utterance such as, “Return to your family” or “Enter into ‘iddah (the waiting period after divorce).” An implied divorce, however, must be accompanied by the intention of divorce. [Imam Nawawi, Minhaj al-Talibin]

Once established that he correctly issued a divorce, the divorce will be deemed valid, irrespective of whether papers are signed after that or not. Of course, if the couple wishes to return together, they may do so, provided the husband has not already issued three divorces.

During the idda’ or waiting period, the husband must offer his wife the house they were staying in. If the home can accommodate him as well, such that he will have a separate room with its kitchen and bathroom, ensuring that he does not cross paths with his divorced wife, then this will be permissible. Otherwise, the husband will have to find alternative accommodations for himself. [Imam Nawawi, Minhaj al-Talibin]

And Allah knows best.

[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan received ijazah’ ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib’ Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib’ Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi’i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.