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Making an oath: "If I do such and such, then we are separated"

Published: 24/08/2011 01:51:00 PM GMT
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My wife asked me to swear that if I do a certain thing, we will be unlawful for each other. I refused. She insisted many times. Lastly, to console her and with a firm conviction in my heart not to divorce her, I said: "If I do this, we will be separated" and I stepped back a little. Later on, unfortunately, I did that thing. I consulted a legal scholar in my locality who said that since I did not used the word "divorce" and my intention was not to divorce, then it was not a divorce. Is this correct?

Answered by

Research Committee of IslamToday under the supervision of Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

This is correct. Since you did not pronounce a "divorce", your intention is the decisive factor. Therefore, since you did not intend divorce, no divorce has occurred.

However, you did make an oath. If you had meant by that oath to make marital relations with your wife unlawful to you, then you have to perform the expiation of zihâr as mentioned in Allah’s words: “But those who pronounce the oath of zihâr to their wives then wish to go back on the words they uttered (it is ordained that such a one) should free a slave before they touch each other. This you are admonished to perform, and Allah is Well-acquainted with (all) that you do. And if any of you has not the means to do so, then he should fast for two months consecutively before they may touch each other, but if any is unable to do so, he should feed sixty poor people. This is so you may show your faith in Allah and His Messenger. These are limits (set by) Allah. For those who reject (Him), there is a grievous chastisement” [Sûrah al-Mujâdalah: 3-4]

If you had no such intention, but you only made an oath, then you merely have to perform the general expiation for breaking an oath.

Allah says: “O Prophet! Why do you hold to be forbidden what Allah has made lawful to you, seeking to please your wives? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, most Merciful. Allah has already ordained for you the expiation of your oaths, and Allah is your Protector, and He is full of knowledge and wisdom.” [[Sûrah al-Tahrîm: 1-2]

Allah says: “Allah will not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten poor people, on a scale of the average food that you feed your own families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths you have sworn. But keep to your oaths, thus doth Allah make clear to you His signs, that you may be grateful.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 89].

This opinion is the choice of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim and many other prominent jurists. [See I`lâm al-Muwaqqi`în (3/83-93)]

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

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