Praise be to Allaah.
Just as divorce (talaaq) may be done verbally it may also be
done in writing. If a person clearly writes that he is divorcing his wife
and intends divorce thereby, then divorce does take place.
That is because expressing it in writing is the same as
expressing it verbally; the pen is one of the two tongues.
The condition according to the majority of fuqaha’ is that he
should have the intention of divorce when writing, because he may intend by
writing it that divorce should take place or he may intend something else,
such as upsetting his wife. So divorce does not take place in writing unless
there is the intention to that effect.
See: al-Mabsoot, 6/143; Minah al-Jaleel Sharh
Mukhtasar Khaleel (4/91); Asna’l-Mataalib, 3/277; al-Insaaf,
If a person does not speak the word of divorce or write it
with his own hand, but he is presented with a paper on which the word of
divorce to his wife is written and is asked to sign it and does so, then
reference should be made to his intention at the time of signing.
If he had decided to divorce and was intending to do so, then
it counts as a divorce. If he wrote it but did not intend to divorce, then
it does not count as a divorce. That is because signing is not a clear
statement of divorce, and that which is not a clear statement could not be
ruled to count as a divorce except with the intention of divorce. There are
some scholars who think that signing on its own does not count as a divorce
in any case.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem (may Allah have mercy on him)
said, answering a similar question: We have studied your question that you
addressed to us and we understand from it that something happened between a
man and his wife that made him angry with her, and his maternal uncle
suggested that he divorce her. The uncle took a piece of paper and wrote
with his own hand “So and so is divorced three times”, meaning the wife of
his nephew. He gave the paper to his nephew to sign it, and he signed it
without saying anything. She is asking whether his signature means that
divorce has taken place.
The answer was:
Praise be to Allah.
There is no doubt that this signature is not regarded as one
of the expressions of divorce at all, nor is it a clear statement of
divorce, and it is not one of the metaphors for divorce. It does not come
under the heading of writing, because the husband did not write that he was
divorcing his wife so that it may be regarded as a divorce on the basis of
writing. The most that can be said about this matter is that he wrote his
name beneath the words written by someone else. If he did not say any of the
words that were written on the paper mentioned, and he only wrote his name
at the bottom, it does not seem to us that divorce has taken place as a
result of his signing this piece of paper. And Allah is the source of
strength. End quote.
Fataawa wa Rasaa’il Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem Aal al-Shaykh,
Shaykh Ibn Jibreen (may Allah have mercy on him) favoured the
view that signing for divorce in court counts as a divorce. We have quoted
his fatwa in the answer to question number
As this paper is not an official document that could be
accepted in court and he did not intend divorce by signing it, his wife is
And Allah knows best.