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He Sent A Message Via Mobile Phone Divorcing His Wife As A Joke: Ruling On Divorce Via E-mail

Islamic Rulings - Living Shariah Verdicts

Islamic Questions & Answers

If a husband sends a message to his wife on the mobile phone telling her "You are divorced" is she regarded as being divorced, whether that was joking or serious?.

Praise be to Allaah.


A man's divorce of his wife does not happen by intention alone. If he expresses his intention verbally – or by means of understandable gestures in the case of one who is mute – or by writing, whether on paper or via mobile phone messages or e-mails, all of these mean that the divorce takes effect, provided that that the writing can be proven to be from him, because it is easy to forge messages in these cases.

For more information please see the answer to question no. 36761 and 20660


There is no difference of opinion among the scholars concerning the fact that divorce of one who is serious counts as such.

As for one who is joking, if he clearly utters the words of divorce "You are divorced (talaaq)" verbally, not in writing, then the majority of scholars are of the view that it counts as such. They quoted as evidence the hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "There are three matters in which seriousness is serious and joking is serious: marriage, divorce and taking back (one's wife)." Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2194; al-Tirmidhi, 1184; Ibn Maajah, 2039. Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Irwa' al-Ghaleel, 1826.

See also the answer to question no. 44038

With regard to writing the words of divorce, whether the husband writes them on a piece of paper or in a message sent by mobile phone or by e-mail, this does not count as a divorce unless that was his intention.

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about a man who wrote that his wife was divorced on a piece of paper then gave it to her. He replied:

This divorce does not count for the woman mentioned if he did not intend to divorce her thereby, rather it was just writing or he intended something other than divorce, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Actions are but by intentions…"

This is the view of a large number of scholars, and some narrated that it is the view of the majority, because writing is a like a metaphor and divorce does not take place by means of metaphors unless it is accompanied by the intention to divorce, according to the more sound of the two scholarly opinions, and unless the writing is accompanied by something which indicates that the intention is divorce, in which case divorce does take place. End quote.

See also the answer to question no. 72291

Based on this, if your husband intended divorce by this writing, then it counts as a divorce. But if he was joking, as you say, and did not intend divorce, then it does not count as a divorce.

Our advice to husbands is to fear Allaah and not to take the rulings of Allaah as a joke or a game. They should realize that divorce destroys families and causes the children to be lost, and it exposes the wife to humiliation and temptation. So they should fear Allaah and preserve their families, and strive to be patient and forbearing before they resort to divorce.

And Allaah knows best.

Ruling on divorce via e-mail

First divorce communicated through email to te wife ,father,and uncle whether valid or a signed document necessary? whether the other two remaining divorces can be obtained immediately?.

Praise be to Allaah.


It is well known in sharee'ah that divorce takes place when the words are uttered, written or indicated by a gesture that takes the place of speaking. See question No. 20660. This is something that is between the husband and his Lord if no one hears him say that. With the regard to divorce via e-mail there is no problem regarding the fact that it is valid: if the husband writes that he is divorcing his wife then the divorce takes place by virtue of that writing. But the issue here is whether this divorce can be proven and authenticated (in court).

It seems that the husband's divorce of his wife via e-mail is effective if it is proven definitively that the one who sent the e-mail containing the words of divorce is the husband or someone whom the husband appointed to issue the divorce, and he acknowledges that and does not deny it.

But if that cannot be proven and the husband does not acknowledge it, then this e-mail message is not valid and divorce does not take place in this case, because it is well known to those who work in this field that it is possible to hack into e-mail accounts and send messages. So we cannot be absolutely certain that the one who sent it is the husband.

So proof and confirmation must be sought from the husband, and the the divorce should not be regarded as having taken place until after it has been confirmed by the husband. If he confirms it then the ‘iddah begins from the time when he uttered or wrote the words of divorce.


The two remaining divorces (talaaq) cannot take place immediately, for divorce takes place one at a time. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"The divorce is twice"

[al-Baqarah 2:229]

This refers to the revocable divorce (i.e., first or second talaaq). Allaah did not say "two divorces" – which indicates that it can only happen one at a time, followed by the ‘iddah in each case. If the first divorce is valid as is counted as such, then we have to wait out the ‘iddah. If he takes you back during the ‘iddah, then this divorce counts as one of the three divorces, and he has to bring witnesses to attest to that. If he does not take you back during the ‘iddah, then you are divorced as soon as the ‘iddah is over, and it is not permissible for him to take you back without a new marriage contract and a new mahr, and he is regarded as a stranger to you like any other man who may propose marriage, and the marriage can only be done with your approval and the agreement of your guardian.

The applies in the case of a second divorce; if he takes you back during (the ‘iddah) then you are his wife. In the event of a third divorce, you become haraam for him until you have married another husband in a legitimate shar'i marriage which is not done solely with the intention of enabling you to remarry your first husband, and which is consummated in the proper manner. If it so happens that you get divorced from your second husband then it becomes permissible for you to remarry your first husband after the ‘iddah ends.

And Allaah knows best


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