Thursday, 18 May 2017
The Triple Thalaq
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
A triple thalaq on one occasion should be treated as one. Otherwise, we arrive at a situation of abuse, where women of disadvantaged positions are held hostage to it, and where foolish men cannot take it back and have to bear the consequences for final separation.
There is certainly opposition by the ‘ulama, but when we consider shari’ah, it is sound. It is the current majority position in some schools that a triple thalaq is to be considered as three separate declarations of divorce, and is thus irrevocable. There is a minority opinion from the middle era of jurisprudence, the most famous of which is Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.), that triple thalaq in one sitting should be considered one, and it has a valid basis.
In the time of Salaf, the issue was ikhtilaf, and it is found in Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani's (r.a.) Fath al-Bari that Imam Malik (r.a.) and Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.) were of the opinion that a triple thalaq in one sitting is considered one. Some state that Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.) later changed his opinion, and some state the opposite. Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) Sharh Swahih Muslim also mentioned about the hadits by ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) whereby the triple thalaq was considered irrevocable from the time of ‘Umar (r.a.).
As recorded in Swahih Muslim, ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) said, “Divorce, a divorce with three, in the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and Abu Bakr and two years of the caliphate of ‘Umar was counted as one. Then ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab said, ‘Verily, the people have hastened in a matter in which they used to have patience, so if only we were to enforce it on them.’ So, he enforced it on them.”
Based on this, the late mujtahid, the Shaykh of Al-Azhar, Imam Mahmud Shaltut (r.a.) issued a fatwa that a triple thalaq in a single instance is considered one. And this is the logical position to adhere to.