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Talaq, talaq, talaq

‘When you divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count their prescribed periods...And fear God your Lord...Those are limits set by God: and any who transgresses the limits of God, does verily wrong his own soul’ (Quran 65:1)

From the Quranic verse above, talaq-al-bida is clearly contradictory to Allah’s prescription of divorcing women at prescribed periods.

Supporting Hadith

Sabiq explains the reason behind the definitiveness of three divorces. He renders a hadith from at-Tirmidhi, where Aisha talks about a woman whose husband divorced her again and again and always took her back again before the waiting-term was ended. She came to the prophet to complain and the Koranic verse on two divorces was sent down. (Sabiq 1985 vol. II: 246). Thus the Koranic regulations on divorce were sent as an improvement for women and a protection against male abuse and control.


Engineer has an interesting theory on this based on the ideas of the author Muhammad Hussain Haikal as to how the invented form of divorce entered the Sharia. Muslim expansion brought captured women to the Arab peninsula. Arab men wanted to marry them but as these women were not used to living as co-wives, they often made the condition that the men should divorce their former wives thrice first. The Arab men would pronounce divorce three times in one sitting as the foreign women did not know the Koranic conditions for divorce. When they were well married to the new wife, they would take their former wives back and this created problems. Umar Ibn al-Khattab thus made the three divorces in one sitting valid as a revocable divorce to overcome such problems (Engineer 1992: 125-6)

Other Explanations

Talaq al-bida has been labelled ‘the invented form of divorce’ and despite the fact that this form of divorce is not mentioned in the prophetic Sunnah, some scholars actually permit it in Islamic law (cf. Sabiq 1985 vol. II: 265).

Engineer has dealt at length about this. He has observed that ash-Shafii is the only one of the classical jurists who regarded the 3 pronouncements in one sitting as both legitimate and in accordance with the Quran. Other classical jurists maintain that this form of divorce is not permissible although many others would legitimate this form of divorce (Engineer 1992:125)

Source: D. Pearl & Menski, Muslim Family Law (1998) 3rd Edition, London: Sweet and Maxwell

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