The Giving of Three Talaaqs in One Sitting According to Shariah

22nd June 2008

In the religion of Islam, the institution of marriage (Nikah) holds great status and honour. The Prophet (saw) stated: ‘Nikah is from my Sunnah.’ In other narrations the Prophet (saw) stated: ‘Whosoever marries, has fulfilled half of his faith. He should fear Allah in respect of the remaining half.’ (Mishkaat Masabih p276)

To safeguard such a blessed institution as marriage, every possible means should be sought to prevent the collapse of the relationship. In certain circumstances, when every avenue has been exhausted and there is no solution to the problem, living together as husband and wife becomes a nightmare rather than bliss. Divorce is then the only solution, even though according to Shariah it is disliked. In certain circumstances, if the husband is being unreasonable with the wife, she can obtain a Khula. The Prophet (saw) stated: ‘From amongst all those things made permissible by Allah (swt), there is nothing more disliked than divorce.’(Abu Dawood p296)

According to Shariah it is preferred that only one divorce is issued in the woman’s ‘clean period’. Immediately after issuing the first divorce, the Iddat begins. However if after the issuing of the first or second divorce, the husband decides to have his wife back, he can do so. This must happen within three monthly cycles from the issue of the first or second divorce. There is no need for a new Nikah. If the Iddat period is completed after the first Talaaq without the husband and wife getting back together there is then no need to issue a second or third divorce as the divorce becomes complete anyway and the wife becomes a stranger to the husband and can remarry anyone else including the ex-husband. Nowadays, due to ignorance over Sharia, a minority do not believe that a valid divorce has taken place until three divorces are issued in separate sittings. If someone issues three divorces in one sitting and, due to ignorance of Quran and Sunnah, believes it to be one divorce and stays with the same woman and has children with her, then in light of the Sharia, such a lifestyle is regarded as totally Haram. Talaaq given in anger is also regarded as a Talaaq and one should therefore control one’s anger. RasulAllah (saw) said: Three things are such, whether said in jest or earnestly they are effective, Nikah, Talaaq and revocation of Talaaq. (Abu Dawood p228, Ibn Majah No: 2039)

Allah (swt) has stated in the Holy Quran: “Divorce is Twice, after that either you retain your wives on reasonable terms or release them in kindness...” (Surah Baqarah, v 229)

In the time of Ignorance (Jahiliyah) before the advent of Islam, people were accustomed to issuing their wives with many divorces and then taking them back on numerous occasions within the period of waiting (Iddat). There was no limit to the number of times a divorce could be issued. This was also a means of upsetting and tormenting the womenfolk. (Tafsir Ibn Abaas vol 1, p139)
In reference to the above verse of the Holy Quran; Sunan Tirmidi, Abu Dawood, Muwata Imam Malik, Mustadarak Hakim, Bayhaqi and other religious texts state that the purpose of this revelation was to cancel the previous principle of issuing an unlimited number of divorces to one’s wife and stipulating a maximum of three. For this very reason, if somebody was to issue three divorces, (Talaaq Mughallazah) whether they be in various sittings or a single sitting, in all cases, three divorces take place. Whether they be issued in one phrase (“I give you three divorces”) or three separate words (“Talaaq, Talaaq, Talaaq”), they are both considered as three issuances of divorce. This makes the wife unlawful for the husband. In the above verse of the Holy Quran there is no allowance for any conditions or exceptions to be made in respect of divorces. After the issuing of three divorces the right of taking your wife back is also lost.

Allah (swt) Says in the Quran: ‘After three divorces, she is unlawful to him thereafter until she has married another husband.’ (S 2, v230)

Allamah Ibn Hazam (rah) stated in respect of the above verse: ‘Those divorces that have been issued together or separately, verily three divorces will be issued. To join this verse with any conditions regarding numbers of sittings is not permissible.’ (Al Mahali vol 11, p221)

Allah (swt) has stated in the Quran: ‘ Those are the limits set by Allah (swt). And whosoever transgresses the set limits of Allah, indeed he has wronged himself...’ (Surah At-Talaaq, v1)

It is evident from this verse that a man has the right to take back his wife up to the issuing of two divorces. If in any situation three divorces happen to be issued, then the right of the husband to take back his wife ends. Until the wife marries another man and is then either divorced by this man or becomes widowed she cannot marry the first husband. This is the penalty for transgressing Allah’s limits (i.e giving more that two divorces)

Proofs from the Ahadith: It was asked of Aisha Siddiqa (ra): ‘If somebody has married a woman (who has previously been married and divorced) and he then issues her with three divorces, is she able to be taken back by her husband from a previous marriage? Aisha (ra) replied: ‘RasulAllah (saw) stated that a woman will not be permissible for her previous husband unless she has been intimate with her new husband.’ (Sahih Bukhari vol 2, p791. Sahih Muslim vol 1, p463)

Imam Bukhari (rah) has used the above mentioned hadith to prove that issuing three divorces together is binding upon the issuer (three divorces take place). (Fathul Bari -Sharah Bukhari vol 9, p280)

When Ibn Umar (ra) used to be asked regarding Talaaq during menses, he used to say “If you issued one or two divorces then RasulAllah (saw) gave me permission to tell you to take her back. If you have given three Talaaqs together then you have disobeyed Allah and your wife has also become divorced. (Sahih Muslim vol 1 p476)
Uwaymir Ajlani’s (ra) cursing (La’an) ordainment with regards to his wife is well known. The Prophet (saw) ordered that La’an take place; after the La’an took place the Sahabi (ra) said: ‘O Prophet of Allah, if I wanted to keep her with me, then I have already cursed her...I would like to issue her with three divorces instead.’ In that gathering Uwaymir Ajlani (ra) issued his wife with three divorces in the presence of the Prophet (saw) and the Prophet (saw) took them as three divorces.’ (Abu Dawood vol 1, p306. Sahih Bukhari vol 2, p791. Nasai vol 2, p99)
By reading all the above Ahadith as proof it is clear that from the time of the Prophet (saw) three Talaaq in one sitting becomes three Talaaq and the husband and wife become strangers to each other. All the Salaf as Saliheen, Ijma’ Sahabah, Mujtahideen, Muhaditheen and Mufassireen state that if three divorces are issued in one sitting then they are treated as three divorces.

The Consensus Amongst The Sahaba (Ridhwaanulllahi Ta’Allah)
After the Quran and the Sunnah, the third proof established in Islam is reached through ‘Ijma Ummat’. This unified agreement being expressed is not a minor agreement of the Scholars. In view of Talaq, it is none other than the Ijma of the Blessed Companions (ra) in the time of the Khulafa Rashideen (ra). No evidence can be found from any companion to prove that any of them (ra) were against the ruling that three Talaqs in one sitting constitute three complete Talaqs. (Fathul Qadeer, vol 3,p33)

Therefore in this ruling, the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat were unanimously united. After Ijma has been established in respect of a matter, if a voice is raised against this ruling, it is regarded as a falsification and is rejected. (Fathul Bari Sharah Bukhari, vol 9, p278)

In this nation, the status that the Blessed Companions (ra) have been honoured with, is not attainable by anyone else. They learnt their Deen and morals directly from the most perfect guide to mankind, the Prophet (saw). No scholar or learned person in this nation can ever reach the level of thought, wisdom and action with which Allah (swt) favoured the Blessed Companions (ra). Sayidina Abdullah Ibn Masud (ra) related with regards to the unique status of the Companions of the Prophet (saw): ‘These are The Companions of the Prophet (saw)! The sincerity of their hearts, the depth of their knowledge, and simplicity of their nature cannot be matched in this nation! Allah (swt) chose them for the companionship of his Prophet (saw) and the establishment of his Deen. For this reason, O People! Recognise the greatness of these individuals and follow them. Verily, these companions are upon the true guidance.’ (Mishkaat, p32)

Sayyidina Anas (ra) stated: ‘When a person who had given his wife three Talaqs in one sitting was brought before Umar (ra). Then Umar (ra) would punish the man and separate the husband and wife.’ (Al Jawhirul Naqi, vol 7, p333 / Sunan Kubra, vol 7, p334)

A man came in the company of Sayidina Uthman (ra) who had issued his wife with 1000 Talaqs. Uthman (ra) stated: ‘Your wife was finished with you from three Talaqs’ (Fathul Qadeer, vol 3, p330 / Zaadul Ma’ad, vol 2, p259)

Ibn Abi Layla (rah) relates that Sayyidina Ali (ra) would proclaim about that person who gave his wife three Talaqs in one phrase: ‘His wife will not be Halal for him, until she doesn’t marry someone else.’ (Sunan Kubra, vol 7, p334)
Alqama (rah) relates that a person came to Sayyidina Ibn Masud (ra) and said he had issued his wife 99 Talaqs in one sitting. Ibn Masud (ra) stated: ‘After three your wife was separated from you, the rest is your mischief’ (Majma’ul Zawahid, vol 4, p338)

Ata (rah) relates: A man came in the company of Sayyidina Ibn Abbas (ra) and said he had issued his wife three Talaqs together. Ibn Abbas (ra) stated: ‘You drag yourself in dirt, then come to me?! By giving three together, you have disobeyed Allah (swt) and your wife is Haram for you.’ Imam Muhammed (rah) (died; 189 H) relates: ‘It is upon this that we act, and this is the way of Imam Abu Hanifa (rah) and the people of knowledge. There is no disagreement in this matter.’ (Kitabul Athar p277)
Imam Nawawi (rah) writes: ‘Whosoever announced three Talaqs together to his wife...then verily, three will be performed. Upon this Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shaafi’i, Imam Malik, Imam Ibn Hambal, The Salaf and Khalaf (rah) are ALL unanimous. (Sharah Muslim, vol 1, p478)

The Propaganda of Regarding Three Talaqs as only One Talaq
Imam A’amash Tabiee (rah) (died; 147H) relates: ‘There was an old man in Kufa. He used to say that he heard from Sayyidina Ali (ra) that if a person issued his wife with three Talaqs in one sitting, then Ali (ra) would regard it as one Talaq.’

Imam A’amash (rah) went to the house of this old man and asked him: ‘What did you hear from Sayyidina Ali (ra) in regards to the proclaiming of three Talaqs in one sitting?’ The old man replied: ‘In this situation, Ali (ra) would take three Talaqs in one sitting as only one Talaq being issued.’ Imam A’amash (rah) asked: ‘Where did you hear this statement from Ali (ra)?’ The old man replied: ‘I will show you my notebook. I wrote in the notebook whilst listening to Ali (ra).’ Imam A’amash (rah) says: ‘When that man showed me the notebook it said ‘I heard from Ali Ibn Abi Talib (ra)...he stated, when a man issues his wife with three Talaqs in one sitting, the women will be Haram for him, until she doesn’t take another husband.’ Imam A’amash (rah) said: ‘I asked the old man...pity upon you! You relate one thing with your tongue, yet have written the opposite in your notebook.’ The old man replied: ‘What I have written in the notebook is correct. However, due to the pressure of the people (Rafidi), I have changed my verbal testimony of it.’ (Sunan Bayhaqi, vol 7, p340)

In the time of the Companions (ra) the Ijma of three Talaqs in one sitting being binding was established. In the time of the Tabieen, the above propaganda occurred only once and was unsuccessful. For this reason, every Century from the time of the Companions (ra) the Mujtahideen and Muhaditheen of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat stayed firm on the path and decision of the Companions (ra). None of them was found to go against the way shown by the Companions (ra) or the unified agreement of the 4 Imams (rah). However, It is unfortunate that after 700 Hijri Allama Ibn Taymiyah (rah) presented a ruling of three Talaqs in one sitting as not being binding as three, rather being one instead. The Mashaikh Ulama of that time opposed his decision, and due to him going against the Ijma of the Companions (ra) and creating confusion within the Ummah, they were imprisoned. (Tazkiratul Huffaaz, p1019) Allama Ibn Taymiyah (rah) himself wrote: ‘When the Companions of the Prophet (saw) are unanimously united upon any given topic, then that cannot be false. It is a rule of Sharia that after the Quran and Sunnah the actions of the Sahabaa (ra) are followed’ (Minhaj, vol3, p66 / Fatawa Ibn Taymiyah, vol 4, p155)

In this age, in 1393 Hijri (1973), under the Authority of Samaahatul Shaykh Abdul Aziz Bin Baz (rah) there was an assembly of the Theological Scholars of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this meeting, there were scholars of all degrees, as well as those who accepted the teachings of Ibn Taymiyah (rah). It was decided in this scholarly assembly by a majority of the Scholars including Shaykh Bin Baz, Abdullah Humaid, Ibrahim Ale Shaikh, Shaykh Afifee and many other prominent Arab Ulama (rah) that the issuing of three Talaqs in one sitting and in one phrase would constitute a complete and verified three Talaqs. (Abahath Hayhatu Kubarul Ulamah, vol 1, p215-422)

Even today 99% of the Ummah is upon this way, this is the united stance of the Companions (ra) and also of the people. To divert from this decision and not accept the pronouncement of three Talaqs in one sitting as three binding and complete Talaqs, is to create confusion in the Ummah. To encourage this stance is to go against the way of the Companions (ra) and leads one towards Haram.
May Allah (swt) guide us to the way shown by the Quran and Sunnah and the Blessed Companions (rah), Ameen.

Mufti Yusuf Danka