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Tearing the paper upon which the divorce was written

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Assalam o alikum sir my brother in law had a fight with my elder sister. he thinks that my sister(his wife) is having extra marital affair but God knows it is not the truth. my brother in law is nature wise suspicious. He himself has an open extra marital affair. Sir yesterday they had a fight and my brother in law threatened my sister of divorce and in fear my sister drank poison but Allah saved her. Meanwhile, he wrote three times divorce to her on a piece of paper, my sister did not read it butIi did. Within a few minutes my brother in law asked me to tear the paper and burn it.   Sir please guide me. Is my sister divorced? Is she allowed by Allah to live with him or not?


In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.

There are two types of written divorce:

  1. Marsumah

  2. Ghair Marsumah

Marsuma is where the letter is addressed to his wife and Ghair Marsumah is where the letter is not written to his wife. Then Marsuma and Ghair Marsumah have two types: clear and understandable writing and unclear and unreadable writing. Example of the first one will be writing that is written on a piece of paper, wall or ground in a way which is understandable and examples of unclear writing will be writing in the air, on water or on something in a way that is not understandable or readable.

In a situation where the writing is unclear, divorce will not occur irrespective whether it is Marsumah or Ghair Marsumah or whether he made an intention or not.

In a situation where the writing is clear but it is not directed or written to his wife for example he typed the word ‘divorce’ or ‘Talaq’ then talaq will occur if he made an intention.

In a situation where the writing is clear and it is directed or referred to his wife for example he says ‘O Zainab! I have given you divorce,’ then talaq and divorce will occur irrespective of whether he makes an intention or not. (Fatawa Hindiyyah p.378 v.1)

There are two possible scenarios regarding your question. Firstly, when the husband wrote on the letter, “Talaq” or “divorce” thrice by attributing the divorce to his wife i.e. he wrote for example ‘O Zainab! I have given you divorce, then three divorces will occur and the wife will become unlawful for the husband. (Raddul Muhtar p.456 v.4)

The second situation is that he just wrote the words divorce on the paper three times without addressing it to the wife, then divorce will only occur if the husband had the intention of divorce or not.

It should be borne in mind that the aforementioned ruling will occur if the husband wrote the divorce on a piece of paper in the wife’s absence. If the wife was present and the husband wrote three divorces on the paper the divorce will not occur. (Raddul Muhtar p.440 v.4)

Also by writing the three divorces on the paper is sufficient for divorce to occur. It is not necessary for the paper or letter to reach the wife. (Raddul Muhtar p.456 v.4) However, if the husband made a condition that three divorces will occur when the letter reaches you, then it will be necessary for the letter to reach the wife for the divorces to occur. If the letter was teared before reaching the wife, divorce will not occur.

Only Allah Knows Best

Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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