Does 3 divorce at once count as one or all three have been used?
Husband says, if you ever had an affair before marriage and if you are lying to me , consider it as a divorce from me? Does divorce take place?Should past sins be disclosed Infront of husband?
بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم
الجواب حامداً ومصلياً
As-salāmu ʿalaykum wa-raḥmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
Your question can be divided into three parts.
- If a man says divorce three times in one sitting, does it count as one or three divorces?
- Will a divorce occur if a husband says, 1) “If you ever had an affair before marriage, and 2) if you are lying to me [about whether you had an affair before marriage], then consider it as a divorce from me.”?
- Should past sins be disclosed to one’s spouse?
1. Three Divorces
If a man says divorce or its equivalent three times in one sitting, the ruling depends on the intention of the husband at the time of issuing the divorces. Please write back with more details.
2. Conditional Divorce
This question depends on the exact words used by the husband. If the words were as stated in the question, “if you ever had an affair before marriage, AND (emphasis is mine) if you are lying to me, then consider it as a divorce from me”, the statement in and of itself has no effect on the marriage, regardless of any relationship the wife had prior to marriage. This is because the divorce is contingent on two things – the affair AND lying about it.
An affair is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “a romantic or passionate attachment typically of limited duration; liaison.” If a relationship of that nature occurred before marriage and the wife then lies about it, a divorce will occur. If an honest answer is given, a divorce will not occur.
That is the fiqhī ruling. In practice, I would advise that the question is not answered, period. If threats of this manner are made, it is indicative of the husband harboring very strong suspicions of the wife. Often, when matters reach this level, even if the wife truthfully answers the question in the negative, the husband refuses to accept it because he has made up his mind that his wife is lying. The only answer that will be accepted is an admission that she had a prior relationship.
3. Disclosing Past Sins
Past sins should not be disclosed in front of one’s spouse or anyone else. Rasūlullāh ﷺ has informed us that the one who repents for the one is like one who did not sin (Ibn Mājah #4250). Allāh is the one who covers our sins and protects us from disgrace in this world and the next. To disclose that which Allāh has concealed is the height of ingratitude and a means of one being deprived or Allāh’s mercy. Rasūlullāh ﷺ has said:
كل أمتي معافًى إلا المجاهرين، وإن من المجاهرة أن يعمل الرجل بالليل عملاً، ثم يصبح وقد ستره الله عليه فيقول: يا فلان عملت البارحة كذا وكذا، وقد بات يستره ربه، ويصبح يكشف ستر الله عنه (متفق عليه)
“Every one of my followers will be forgiven except those who expose (openly) their wrongdoings. An example of this is that of a man who commits a sin at night which Allāh has covered for him, and in the morning, he would say (to people): “I committed such and such sin last night,’ while Allāh had kept it a secret. During the night Allāh has covered it up but in the morning, he tears up the cover provided by Allāh Himself.” (Bukhārī and Muslim)
An Important Note
Rasūlullāh ﷺ has said that every person sins, and the best of sinners is those who repent (Tirmidhī #2499 and Ibn Mājah #4251). Every single person has done things which they regret and that they hope will never be discovered by others. When that person sincerely repents, mends their ways, and sets the course of their life in a positive direction, that person becomes the beloved of Allāh. They deserve to be judged by their current state – not what occurred in the past and can no longer be changed.
Marriage is a union of a man and woman who lived two separate lives prior to marriage. Both would have surely made their share of mistakes over the course of the journey of life that led them to one another. If, at the time of their marriage, those mistakes were left in the past and the spouse is living a good, pious life, they should be considered a good, pious person. To pry into their past is to cause hurt and pain to them and causing pain to another Muslim is ḥarām.
Instead, both spouses should focus on the goodness of the other and on the joint life they are trying to build together. To expend energy on things that occurred in the past and that cannot be changed is to ruin one’s life and set oneself up for a life of unhappiness.
واالله تعالى أعلم وعلمه أتم وبه التوفيق
And Allāh Taʿālā Knows Best
Muftī Mohammed Wahaajuddin bin Salauddin
(May Allāh forgive him and his parents)