Not every expression is metaphor of divorce
Fatwa No: 327250

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I heard somewhere that the noble prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, got married to a woman and that when he wanted to approach her, she sought refuge in Allaah and he then left her, does this mean that pronouncing Isti'aadhah (seeking refuge with Allaah) is a Kinaayah (metaphor) for divorce? Secondly, a brother made a supplication for a man, saying, “May Allaah do good to us,” and he said, “Aameen,” with the intention of divorce, what is the ruling in this regard?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The story of this woman was cited by Al-Bukhari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him and narrated by ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her; it says that when the daughter of Al-Jawn was brought to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) in marriage as a wife, she said, “I seek refuge with Allaah from you.” Thereupon, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said to her, “You have sought refuge with One Who is great; go back to your family.”

The Kinaayah of divorce, according to most scholars, is each word that indicates separation but is not explicit about it. The author of Mughni Al-Muhtaaj, who is a leading Shaafi'i scholar, wrote, “Kinaayah is any wording that indicates a short notice of separation but is not a common term of divorce, neither Islamically nor according to customary practice, such as (saying), 'Travel!'…

Therefore, Isti'aathah, or the expression 'May Allaah do good to us' is not a Kinaayah of divorce.

Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

As for what is not like divorce and does not indicate separation, such as a husband saying, 'Sit down,' 'Stand up,' 'Eat and drink,' 'May Allaah bless you,' 'May Allaah forgive you,' 'How good you are,' and similar expressions, then these are not metaphors of divorce. They are not called metaphors of divorce even if the husband intended divorce, because it is not probable that this wording means divorce. If divorce were to take place with such expressions then it would be taking place just with the intention, and we have already mentioned that intention alone does not lead to divorce.

In the hadeeth that you mentioned, the Kinaayah of divorce consists of the words, “…go to your family.”

As regards the Isti'aadhah in the hadeeth, it was said by the wife, whereas divorce is in the hands of the husband and not in the hands of the wife. Even if it were to be an expression of divorce, divorce would not have taken place because it is the wife who said it.

Allaah knows best.

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