Metaphor of divorce leads to divorce if husband intended divorce
Fatwa No: 332467

Question

Asalaamu Alaykum. I would like to know whether the following could be a divorce. We were having an argument, and my husband told me to take my car keys and go to my parents' home. I got mad because when we previously had arguments, he told me many times go to my parents home (but he never intended divorce), and had he said that he would not tell me to go to my parents' house next time. So this time, when he again said told me to go to my parents in this argument, I told him that I was concidering that a divorce. He said, "Yes, it is that what you consider." Then he again told me to go to my parents' home immediately. I again repeated that I was considering this a divorce and that it was a divorce. Then he said, "Yes, concider it that." Later when I left, though, he called me. Then I told him that he told me to concider it what I told him. He said that he did not mean divorce by it but that since I said that I considered it a divorce, he simply said it that I could concider it that but that he never pronounced the word divorce because I he did not intend a divorce and merely said that because it does not make difference what I consider. Shaykh, we already have had two divorces. Thank you.

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, is His slave and Messenger.

The husband's words to his wife, "Yes, it is that what you consider" or "Yes, consider it that", in response to her statement, "I am considering this a divorce," is not an explicit wording of divorce. Rather, it is a metaphor of divorce with which the divorce does not take effect except if the husband had the intention to issue a divorce when he said it. The explicit wording of divorce is that which includes the word 'divorce' or any of its derivatives other than the present tense and the imperative.

The Hanbali scholar Ar-Ruhaybaani  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, "The explicit wording of divorce is that in which the word 'divorce' or its derivatives are used, such as saying, 'You are divorced, I have divorced you,' and the like, because these derivatives denote the issuance of divorce according to the correct usage of the Arabic language and according to the Sharee'ah as well aside from the imperative style or present tense..." [Mataalib Uli An-Nuha]

The criterion for considering the metaphor of divorce as a divorce was underlined by Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him in his comment on the implicit expressions of divorce accompanied with the intention of the husband to issue a divorce, "This also applies to whatever indicates separation and conveys the meaning of divorce." [Al-Mughni]

For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 121973.

Lastly, we would like to warn the Muslims from taking this matter lightly by frequently uttering the words of divorce and making it a means to solve marital problems. The result of recklessness in this regard is mostly regret. Rather, the spouses should try to solve their problems using reason, wisdom, and patience in order to preserve their family bonds and strengthen them.

Allaah knows best.

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