Praise be to Allaah.
The scholars differed concerning the ruling on one who
divorces his wife by saying “I divorce you thrice”. The majority of scholars
are of the view that this means that divorce has taken place three times;
others are of the view that divorce takes place only once.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him)
A man divorced his wife by saying “I divorce you thrice”;
what is the ruling on that?
If a man divorces his wife three times with one word, such as
saying, “You are thrice divorced”, the majority of scholars are of the view
that the woman is indeed thrice divorced and becomes forbidden for her
husband until she has been married to another man in a serious marriage in
which the new husband has intercourse with her and they only separate as a
result of death or divorce, not a tahleel marriage (i.e., a marriage of
convenience aimed at making it permissible for her to remarry her former
They quoted as evidence for that the fact that ‘Umar ibn
al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) counted such a divorce as being
three and judged among people accordingly.
Other scholars were of the view that this is to be regarded
as a single divorce, and the husband may take her back so long as the ‘iddah
has not yet ended. If the ‘iddah has ended then she may marry him with a new
marriage contract. They quoted as evidence for that the report narrated in
Saheeh Muslim from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) who
said: “At the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him), the time of Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him)
and the first two years of the caliphate of ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased
with him), a threefold divorce was counted as one. ‘Umar said: “People are
being hasty with regard to a matter in which they should not rush. Let us
count it as three and judge between people accordingly .” According to
another report narrated by Muslim: Abu’l-Sahba’ said to Ibn ‘Abbaas (may
Allaah be pleased with them): “Was not three counted as one at the time of
the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and
the time of Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) and the first three
years of the time of ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him)?” He said:
They also quote as evidence the report narrated by Imam Ahmad
in al-Musnad with a jayyid isnaad from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be
pleased with him), that Abu Rakaanah divorced his wife by saying “I divorce
you thrice”, then he regretted it, so the Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allaah be upon him) returned her to him with one word and said, “This is
only one (divorce).” This hadeeth and the one before it are to be understood
as referring to divorcing by saying “I divorce you thrice”, in order to
reconcile these two hadeeths and the verse in which Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning):
“The divorce is twice”
“And if he has divorced her (the third time), then she is
not lawful unto him thereafter until she has married another husband. Then,
if the other husband divorces her, it is no sin on both of them that they
reunite, provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by
Allaah. These are the limits of Allaah, which He makes plain for the people
who have knowledge”
This was the view of Ibn
‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) according to a saheeh report
narrated from him; according to the other report narrated from him he shared
the view of the majority. The view that they should be regarded as one
divorce was narrated from ‘Ali, ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf and al-Zubayr ibn
al-‘Awwaam (may Allaah be pleased with them).
This was also the view of a number of the Taabi’een, Muhammad
ibn Ishaaq the author of al-Seerah, and a number of the earlier and
later scholars. It was also the view favoured by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn
Taymiyah and his student Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on them). This
is also my view, because that is following all of the texts, and because it
is also more merciful and kind to the Muslims.
Fataawa Islamiyyah, 3/281, 282.
It seems that the qaadi
was also of this view, which is that the threefold divorce counts as one
divorce. Based on this there is nothing wrong with taking her back.
But after the ‘iddah is over you cannot take her back, rather
you have to make a new marriage contract with her.
With regard to taking her
back after the ‘iddah is over – i.e., after three menstrual cycles – this is
not valid, because once a woman’s ‘iddah is completed she becomes a
“stranger” for her husband and she is not permissible for him except with a
new marriage contract.
And Allaah knows best.