Question:

I was seated on the toilet. I was overcome by a strong urge to utter the word ‘divorce,’ just for the sake of it.

I am unable to rationally conclude whether I resisted the urge to say the word. Nobody else was present. To the best of my objective recollection, I did not say it. However the recollection may be detrimentally affected by bias in favour of having not said the word, because of the fear of a finding that my marriage is nullified.

When a person is confronted with such a situation, is their marriage regarded as valid?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

There are two aspects to your question.

a. Giving Talaq in an inaudible manner.

b. Having a doubt whether one gave Talaq or not.

Giving Talaq in an inaudible manner.

In principle, it is a requirement for the validity of the Talaq that it should be pronounced. Fuqaha’ have mentioned details with regards to what constitutes as a “pronounced” speech.

Allama Haskafi rahimahullah has mentioned that the minimum level of audible utterance (al-jahr) is such that the pronounced word is heard by someone around him.1

While explaining this Allama Ibn Abideen rahimahullah mentions in his Haashiya Raddul Muhtar,

“Fuqaha’ have detailed the level three opinions in regards to audible utterance (al-jahr):

1. Hinduwani and Fadhli has conditioned the utterance of voice reaching one’s ear.

2. Bishr al-Mareesi and Ahmad has conditioned the utterance of the voice from the mouth, even if it does not reach his ears. However with the condition that this voice should be over audible, so much so that if one puts his ear close to the mouth, he would hear it.

3. And Karkhi and Abubakr Balkhi has not put the listening to be a condition, and sufficed with mere articulation of the wordings.”2

Thereafter Allama Haskafi rahimahullah mentions that the lowest level for “speech” is that a person hears oneself, and one who is around him.3 This is the same opinion which Hinduwani rahimahullah has mentioned, and it is with regards to this level of voice, Allama Haskafi rahimahullah mention thereafter,

“(And the same) mentioned [standard] (applies to all those situations which pertains to speech, like saying Tasmiyyah at time of slaughter, reciting ayah of Sajdat at-Tilawa, freeing slaves, instituting Talaq, enacting an exception) and others. So if one gave Talaq [in such level of audibility], or put a clause of exception, such that oneself cannot hear then it [i.e Talaq or clause] will not be valid.”4

Majority of fuqaha’ have opted for this opinion of Hinduwani and state that the Talaq will be valid only when it is whispered or pronounced to such audible level that oneself is able to hear it. 5

This helps us understand the following issues:

i. If someone merely thinks about the Talaq, even if such thinking is in formulated sentences, then in such a condition Talaq does not take place.

ii. If someone articulates the words of Talaq such that no sound is audible then the Talaq will not take place.

iii. If one articulates the words of Talaq, and the voice heard thereof is such that one can hear it, then the Talaq will take place.

Having a doubt whether one gave Talaq or not.

Before dealing with the issue at hand, it is better to understand the concept of doubt and certainty. The principle of Shari’ah governs that,

اليقين لا يزول بالشك

Certainty is not overruled by doubt6

This means that the default situation in any condition is that of certainty. In case of marriage, since one has entered into the institution of Nikah, it is certain that one is in the state of marriage. Thereafter, different situations could follow which will either cast a doubt over this default position, or perhaps nullify.

According to this principle, as long as this default state of certainty of being married is countered by a situation which is merely a doubt, then such a doubt is not strong enough to invalidate the default position. In short, the doubt will not invalidate the nikah. However, if certainty of having given the talaq counters the default position, then this new occurrence (i.e uttering Talaq) is strong enough to invalidate the Nikah.

In your situation, since your default state is that of being married and you are merely doubting if you have given the Talaq or not, then the talaq does not take place, and your Nikah will remain valid.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Faisal bin Abdul Hameed al-Mahmudi
Darul Iftaa wal Irshaad, Montreal
www.fatwa.ca

Concurred by,
Mufti Faraz ibn Adam
www.darulfiqh.com

1(و) أدنى (الجهر إسماع غيره و) (الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (1/ 534))

2فشرط الهندواني والفضلي لوجودها خروج صوت يصل إلى أذنه، وبه قال الشافعي.

وشرط بشر المريسي وأحمد خروج الصوت من الفم وإن لم يصل إلى أذنه، لكن بشرط كونه مسموعا في الجملة، حتى لو أدنى أحد صماخه إلى فيه يسمع.

ولم يشترط الكرخي وأبو بكر البلخي السماع، واكتفيا بتصحيح الحروف (الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (1/ 534))

3(المخافتة إسماع نفسه) ومن بقربه (الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (1/ 535))

4(ويجري ذلك) المذكور (في كل ما يتعلق بنطق، كتسمية على ذبيحة ووجوب سجدة تلاوة وعتاق وطلاق واستثناء) وغيرها؛ فلو طلق أو استثنى ولم يسمع نفسه لم يصح في الأصح(الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (1/ 535))

5(وكذا كل ما يتعلق بالنطق كالطلاق والعتاق والاستثناء وغيرها) من البيع والنكاح والإيلاء واليمين أي أدنى المخافتة في هذه الأشياء إسماع نفسه حتى لو طلق بحيث صحح الحروف، ولكن لم يسمع نفسه لا يقع، ولو طلق جهرا ووصل به إن شاء الله بحيث لم يسمع نفسه يقع الطلاق ولا يصح الاستثناء عن الهندواني خلافا للكرخي. (مجمع الأنهر في شرح ملتقى الأبحر (1/ 104))

(ثم المخافتة أن يسمع نفسه والجهر أن يسمع غيره، وهذا عند الفقيه أبي جعفر الهندواني - رحمه الله - لأن مجرد حركة اللسان لا يسمى قراءة بدون الصوت. وقال الكرخي: أدنى الجهر أن يسمع نفسه، وأدنى المخافتة تصحيح الحروف لأن القراءة فعل اللسان دون الصماخ.وفي لفظ الكتاب إشارة إلى هذا. وعلى هذا الأصل كل ما يتعلق بالنطق كالطلاق والعتاق والاستثناء وغير ذلك) حيث قال: إن شاء جهر وأسمع نفسه، وإن شاء خافت فجعل إسماعه نفسه جهرا يقابله المخافتة فتكون هي دون ذلك، وليس حينئذ إلا تصحيح الحروف، وهذا بناء على أن المراد وأسمع نفسه لا غيره اعتبارا لمفهوم اللقب، وإلا لو كان المراد مجرد إبداء حسن التعليل والمراد وأسمع نفسه بذلك لم يلزم فيه إشارة إليه.

في المحيط قول الهندواني أصح.

واعلم أن القراءة وإن كانت فعل اللسان لكن فعله الذي هو كلام والكلام بالحروف والحرف كيفية تعرض للصوت وهو أخص من النفس فإنه النفس المعروض بالقرع، فالحرف عارض للصوت لا للنفس، فمجرد تصحيحها بلا صوت إيماء إلى الحروف بعضلات المخارج لا حروف فلا كلام. (فتح القدير للكمال ابن الهمام (1/ 331))

6الأشباه والنظائر لابن نجيم (ص: 47)، الهداية في شرح بداية المبتدي (1/ 25)،حاشية الطحطاوي على مراقي الفلاح شرح نور الإيضاح (ص: 42)، الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (1/ 148)، الجوهرة النيرة على مختصر القدوري (1/ 19)، درر الحكام شرح غرر الأحكام (1/ 16)، المبسوط للسرخسي (1/ 121)