Does Islam give second chance to take your wife back after divorce?
Divorce is considered hateful act in Islam as Prophet (pbuh) said: “Never did Allah allow anything more hateful to Him than divorce” . In another report he (pbuh) said: “With Allah the most detestable of all things permitted is divorce” . But at the same time Islam also gives freedom to man and woman to take divorce anytime by creating perfect balance, even if they don’t like each other .
- Divorce Procedure in Islam
Quran says: “Divorce is twice. Then, either keep [her] in an acceptable manner or release [her] with good treatment……” . This verse was revealed to abrogate the previous practices in the beginning of Islam, when the man had the right to take back his divorced wife even if he had divorced her a hundred times, as long as she was still in her Iddah (waiting period after divorce until 3 menstrual cycles) . According to the above mentioned verse, Allah explained the divorce procedure for us which is the following:
- Husband will pronounce the First divorce and she has to wait for three menstrual period (which is approximately 3 months), her Iddah, as Quran says, “And divorced women shall wait (as regards their marriage) for three menstrual periods….” . In this period before ending it, her husband can take her back after reconciliation if they both agree, as Quran says: “Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this [period] if they want reconciliation” . This Iddah has mainly two purposes, a) reconciliation between them, b) For making woman’s pregnancy obvious if she conceives after the divorce.
- If they both can’t amend their differences within first 3 months (3 menstrual period) as mentioned in first point then pronounce Second divorce after finishing that period and wait for another 3 months (her three menstrual periods) for resolving their issues. Allah also advices to have mediator between us if necessary to remove disputes, as He said in the Quran, “And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever knowing and Acquainted [with all things] ”. If they are successful now to resolve their issues, husband can take her back before ending that period (3 menstrual periods).
- If they are still unable to eliminate their disputes after using all possible means then husband will pronounce Third and last divorce after finishing aforementioned period (3 menstrual periods). This is the stage where husband can’t take her back.
After the third/final divorce there is only one way to take her back if she naturally gets married [without any intention of getting divorced later on] with someone else and he later on divorce her naturally. Then there is no harm for her ex-husband to take her back, it is called Halala, as Quran mentions: “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 Allah. These are the limits of Allah, which He makes plain for the people who have knowledge” . But if she does Halala intentionally so that she could go back to her ex-husband OR she makes an agreement with someone else for doing Halala, it is called Tahlil which is prohibited (haram) in Islam and Prophet (pbuh) cursed the one who does Tahlil, the one in whose favour it is done .
The reason why it was not allowed because Islam stopped the woman abuse which used to be done in regards to the divorce in pre-islamic society. Women did not have the right of divorce, they used to divorce them whenever they wanted and they used to take them back whenever they wished, so women were puppets in their hands. Islam rectified the divorce procedure by giving us a prolonged process where divorce is pronounced in stages by leaving enough time [approx 3 months after 1st divorce and 3 months after 2nd divorce] to reconcile. Is there any harm if both agreeing to be together even after the final divorce? Islam really detests the act of divorce at the first place as mentioned earlier because it breaks the family which eventually affects the society. But also Islam provides us a reasonable process by giving rights to both parties to choose their own way if it’s impossible for them to be together after using all appropriate channels [even putting mediator as mentioned above]. After giving two chances in firs two divorces, both parties have enough time to recognize the problems and then find the solution for them and after each divorce husband has the right to take her back but if still after first two divorces [approx. 6 months] they come to the point where they choose to go separate on their own ways then Islam clearly shows the severity of the situation that from this point there will be no return unless they naturally come to Halala [which obviously will be rare]. Are these not just human mistakes? Yes, Humans do make errors however in this case Islam gives man enough time to rectify that error in stages when pronouncing divorce. After the final divorce nobody can claim to be mistaken rather it would be deliberate.
- Issues of uttering three divorce at once
As we have seen the correct way of pronouncing divorce according to the Quran & Sunnah [the way of Prophet (pbuh)], 3rd/final divorce is called Talaq Ba’in (Irrevocable divorce: where husband can’t take his wife back) and first two divorces are called Talaq Raj’i (Revocable divorce: where husband can take his wife back). But there is another method of giving divorce which was established after the death of the Prophet (pbuh), where three divorces are pronounced at once, it is called Talaq Bid’i (an innovation in divorce after the Prophet’s time). All scholars of all times are unanimously agreed that pronouncing three divorces at the same time is unlawful , as Quran mentions: “O Prophet! When you divorce women divorce them for their prescribed time (Iddah: waiting period) and calculate the number of the days prescribed, and be careful of you duty to Allah, you Lord” . It was also narrated by An-Nasa’i that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was told about a man who pronounced three divorces on his wife at one time, so the Prophet (pbuh) stood up while angry and said, “The book of Allah is being made the subject of jest while I am still amongst you? ”.
The pronouncing of three divorces without an interval seems to have been a remnant of pre-islamic days, the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have shown indignation when it was brought to this notice that a certain person had pronounced three divorces together as mentioned earlier, and a divorce thus pronounced was annulled by him . Another report shows that until the time of Umar [Second righteous caliph 634-644 CE) people used to pronounce three divorce together, but that they counted as a single divorce, Umar in order to restrain people from such an un-Islamic proceeding, ordered three divorces given at one time to be reckoned as three separate acts of divorce, taking place at intervals, but this order had the opposite effect to that intended and it became a general practice to pronounce divorce three times on one occasion, and this was supposed to have the effect of three separate acts of divorce, thus making a revocable divorce irrevocable . So, according to Quran and Sunnah (Way of Prophet pbuh) the only acceptable method of giving divorce is which was described on the page one and called Talaq Raj’i (Revacable divorce) & Talaq Ba’in (Irrevocable divorce). However pronouncing divorce thrice or hundred times at one time without any intervals still considered only one divorce .
It should also be noted that if husband and wife for any reason [either after first or second divorce or three divorces at the same time which is still considered as a single divorce as mentioned early OR who swear that they will not go in to their wives (Arabic term is ILA)], don’t reassert conjugal relations within four months, the wife should be divorced and if husband does not give divorce than after four months automatically divorce will be implied, as Quran explained: “In the case of those who swear that they will not go into their wives, the waiting period is four months, then if they go back, Allah is surely forgiving, merciful. And if they resolve on a divorce then Allah is surely hearing, knowing” .
Sunan Abu Dawood 13, hadith No 3
Narrated Kansa bint Khidham Al-Ansariya that her father gave her in marriage when she was a matron and she disliked that marriage [she did not like her husband]. So she went to Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and he declared that marriage invalid. (Bukhari Summarized version, Darussalam Riyadh, The book of Nikah, hadith # 1850)
Woman waiting period for 3 menstrual periods after the divorce, she has to complete that period for re-marrying or finalise the divorce.
Ibne Kathir, English version, volume 1, p. 635
Masnad-e-Ahmed 1:448 mentioned in Ibne Kathir Tafseer, English volume 1, p. 624
Ibne Kathir Tafseer, English version, vol 1, p. 640
Sunan Nasa’i 6, hadith No 142
Maulana M. Ali, Divorce in Islam, The Woking Muslim mission & literary trust publication, p. 16