Uncertainty in Marriage (Shafi‘i Fiqh)

Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan answers questions about uncertainty concerning marriage and divorce.


Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.

I need help. Sometimes I feel very sad. My husband and I have argued many times throughout our marriage and sometimes I wonder if we are still husband and wife. He has even joked about a conditional divorce once. He said “If there is violence, we’re over.” At first he said he didn’t mean divorce but when I asked him again, he said Yes. He said that he said “Yes” so that I would listen and stop asking. Is that now a conditional divorce? Can you change the intention of a past sentence?

Please help me, I just want to move on with my life.

Thank you.

Thank you for writing to us.

  1. Arguing, no matter how excessive, does not constitute a divorce, unless a divorce is clearly pronounced.
  2. Your husband’s statement, “if theres violence, we’re over” will only be considered a conditional divorce if he intended divorce by his words, “we’re over,” as is the case with all figurative speech. In the case at hand, he consistently seems to be saying that he did not intend divorce, which effectively means that there would be no divorce even if violence was to occur.
  3. One may not change his intention that he had when pronouncing a particular formula or sentence. By way of example, if he intended divorce while uttering the above words, it remains as such and he cannot change the intention that he had at the time of uttering. Similarly, if he did not intend divorce, his intention cannot change subsequently.
  4. In short, you are not divorced from your husband, even if violence may have occurred after his utterance of the above statement. In addition, it would be advisable that you and your husband go for counseling and try and determine what is the root cause behind all quarreling and arguing within your marriage. Many a times, the solution is rather simple and can easily be identified by and experience counselor.

May Allah bless your marriage and remove all difficulties and challenges, Amin.

And Allah knows best,

Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Is It Possible to Cancel a Conditional Divorce?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Is it possible to cancel a conditional divorce? For example somebody says to his wife ” you are divorced if you enter this house,” and then before she has an opportunity to enter this house he regrets what he said and wants to cancel his statement.

What should he do if it is possible?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I hope you are well.

Unfortunately, it would not be possible to retract such an utterance. As such, when the wife enters the house intended in the statement, one revocable divorce (raj`i) will occur.

The husband will be allowed to take his wife back within the waiting period (`idda) without having to conduct the marriage contract again. However, if the waiting period ends and he has not taken her back, the divorce becomes irrevocable. A new contract would have to be initiated for the couple to be considered married. [Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

Divorce is a serious matter, and our religion has attached serious consequences to the mere usage of the word. Individuals need to be more calm and collected when speaking to their spouses and avoid the use of the word ‘divorce’ in loose and hasty fashions. Ultimately, haste is from the workings of the devil, and circumspection is from Allah, as the Prophet (Allah bless him) stated.