Her Husband Has Divorced Her And Is Refusing To Let Her Go Back To His House Until She Has Apologized To His Parents
Islamic Rulings -
Living Shariah Verdicts
Islamic Questions & Answers
There is a man who used to get drunk and beat his wife, and he divorced her
several times verbally; for example, he used to say to her "You are thrice
divorced (talaaq)" when he was not sober, then after that he used to make up
with her. But now he has repented to his Lord; he has started to pray and he
regrets what he used to do. What is the Islamic ruling in this case?
Praise be to Allah
The scholars differed concerning the divorce issued by one who is drunk, if he
became drunk by consuming that which Allah has forbidden of all types of
intoxicants (khamr): does it count as a divorce or not? There are two views:
The first view
The first view is that the divorce does count as such. This is the view of Abu
Haneefah and Maalik, and it is one of the two views narrated from ash-Shaafa'i
and Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on them).
They said: That is because his reason has diminished because of sin, so the
divorce counts as such, as a punishment to him and as a deterrent to committing
See: al-Mughni by Ibn Qudaamah, 7/289. They quoted evidence to support their
The second view
The second view is that his divorce does not count as such. This is the view of
the literalists and is the second view narrated from ash-Shafaa'i and Ahmad.
This is the view that Imam Ahmad finally settled on. They quoted several things
as evidence, including the following:
The words of Allah (interpretation of the meaning): "O you who believe! Approach
not As-Salat (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state until you know (the
meaning) of what you utter" [an-Nisa' 4:43]. Here Allah, may He be glorified,
states that the word of one who is drunk does not count for anything, because he
does not know what he is saying.
It is narrated in a saheeh report from the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah
be upon him) that a man came to him and confessed to zina (fornication or
adultery) and he said: "Has he been drinking wine?" A man got up and smelt his
mouth, and did not detect any smell of wine. Narrated by Muslim (1695). This
indicates that if he had drunk wine, then his confession would not be
acceptable. By the same token, divorce issued by someone in this state does not
count as such.
Because this is the view of 'Uthmaan ibn 'Affaan and Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be
pleased with them), and no one among the Sahaabah differed with them.
Imam al-Bukhaari (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
'Uthmaan said: The one who is insane or drunk cannot issue a divorce. Ibn
'Abbaas said: Divorce issued by one who is drunk or one who is compelled does
not count as such.
Ibn al-Mundhir (may Allah have mercy on him) said: This is proven from 'Uthmaan,
and we do not know of anyone among the Sahaabah who disagreed with him.
Because he has lost control of his will, he is like one who is compelled.
Because he has lost his mind or his reason, he is like one who is insane or
Because being of sound mind is a condition of accountability, and there is no
accountability for one who does not understand the religious teachings.
The second view was regarded as more correct by a number of scholars, such as
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah and his student Ibn al-Qayyim; fatwas were issued
on this basis by Shaykh Ibn Baaz and Ibn 'Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: Does divorce issued by
one who is drunk count as such? If it does count as such, then will he be
brought to account for other transgressions he may commit, such as zina, murder
and stealing? If that is the case, then what is the difference between the two?
He replied: The scholars differed as to whether divorce issued by one who is
drunk counts as such. The majority of scholars are of the view that his divorce
does count as such, and he is also accountable for his actions; his sins are not
an excuse for waiving his divorce, just as they are not an excuse for waiving
accountability for his actions such as murder, stealing or zina, and so on.
Some of the scholars are of the view that divorce issued by one who is drunk
does not count as such; this is what is narrated from the Rightly-Guided Caliph
'Uthmaan (may Allah be pleased with him), because he is not in his right mind at
that time, so he is not accountable for things he says that harm others, and
divorce harms him and others. So he is not accountable for it, because the
punishment for drunkenness is flogging; making his divorce count as such is not
part of his punishment. The same applies if he manumits a slave or engages in
other transactions, such as selling, buying, giving gifts and so on – they are
With regard to his deeds and actions, he is accountable for them, and his being
drunk is not an excuse for him in the case of zina, stealing, murder or anything
else, because a person is accountable for his actions whether he was sober or
not. He may have taken drunkenness as a means of doing things that Allah has
forbidden of reprehensible actions, and he may be using it as an excuse so as to
evade the rulings on these sins. Hence the scholars are unanimously agreed that
he is accountable for his actions.
However the correct view is that he is not accountable for it. If it is known
that he issued the divorce in a state of drunkenness when he was not of sound
mind, then the divorce does not count as such. By the same token, if he
manumitted his slave or disposed of his wealth when he was in a drunken state,
then he is not accountable for that (and it is not valid). The same applies if
he sold or bought anything, and the same applies to all other conduct in which
being of sound mind is necessary; they are not valid or binding, because this
comes under the heading of verbal conduct, as explained above. This is the
correct view, on the basis of which we issue our fatwa, which is that his
divorce does not count as such when it is proven that he was drunk at the time
of issuing the divorce and was not sober at that time.
But if he was not sinning, in the sense that he was given a drink and did not
know that it was an intoxicant, or he was forced to drink it, and he consumed
the drink because he was compelled to do so, then he is not sinning, and the
divorce issued in this case does not count as such, according to all scholars,
because his state of drunkenness did not result from deliberate actions, so he
is not accountable for it; rather he was wronged or deceived.
Based on that, the divorce mentioned does not count as such. We praise Allah,
may He be exalted, for having enabled him to repent and having guided him to the
right way, and we ask Allah to make us and him steadfast.