Salam, I hope you are well. I have a question regarding saying divorce 3 times:
According to my wife, we used to use the word divorce as a joke sometimes when she used to say something like 'what kind of husband I got?' I used to say, 'That's fine. Then, divorce, divorce.' Sometimes, I used to say once. Then, sometimes I used to say 2 times as well. We used to joke about this a lot. We were never serious to give divorce but just used to take it as a joke. This happened 5 years ago. At that time, we both didn't have a lot of knowledge about Islam. Now, we know more, and recently she heard someone got divorced like that too. So, she brought that up and wants to sort it out.
So, the problem is I can't remember any of that because this happened 5 years ago. She said she clearly remembers this, but I don't remember any of that. Now, we want to know how this would go. I really appreciate it. From my point of view, I've never wanted a divorce for any reason. In the early days of marriage, I would get angry and use the word, but never ever said 'you are divorced' to my wife or said, 'I want a divorce.' I just used to say, 'if you are not happy with me, then you can divorce me.' We all have moments we are not proud of but just need clarification.
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
The Prophet (SAW) said:
[عن أبي هريرة:] ثَلاثٌ جِدُّهنَّ جِدٌّ، وهَزْلُهنَّ جِدٌّ؛ النِّكاحُ، والطَّلاقُ، والرَّجْعةُ.
أخرجه أبو داود (٢١٩٤)، والترمذي (١١٨٤)، وابن ماجه (٢٠٣٩).
Translation: Three things— being serious in them is regarded as serious and joking in them is considered to be serious (i.e., the ruling will come into effect regardless of whether one was serious or joking); 1. Marriage 2. Divorce 3. Rajah (taking one's wife back after issuing divorce [using explicit words] before the iddah's expiry)
Thus, if you said the word divorce to your wife, it would take effect irrespective of saying it jokingly.
Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (r.a.) elaborates on the issue of three divorces, "If a man issues three divorces to his wife, she becomes completely forbidden to him. Even if they renew their nikah, it will be unlawful for the woman to live with him. This nikah will not be valid irrespective of whether the three divorces were issued in clear terms or vague terms. If a woman who has been issued three divorces wishes to live with her first husband and wishes to marry him, there is only one way of doing this. That is, she will have to marry another man, engage in sexual intercourse with him, and when he dies or divorces her, she must complete her 'iddah. Upon completing her 'iddah, she can remarry her first husband. Without marrying a second man, she cannot remarry her first husband. If she marries a second man, but he dies before engaging in sexual intercourse with her or divorces her before engaging in sexual intercourse with her, this will not be considered. She can only marry her first husband when her second husband has intercourse with her. Without this intercourse, she cannot remarry her first husband. Understand this well." (Bahishti Zewar: p. 398 [Darul-Ishaat])
Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Mohammad Ahsan Osmani
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham