Divorce in terms of taking the wife back in marriage is divided into (1) two types: Revocable and irrevocable divorce.

Revocable divorce:

In which a husband may take his wife back in marriage without her permission after he divorced her the first and the second divorce because of Allah's Saying: "And divorced women shall wait (as regards their marriage) for three menstrual periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allâh has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allâh and the Last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation." (2)

Sheikh Al Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) said: (Revocable marriage is for those who intend to reform the marriage relationship and do not intend harm) (3)

It is part of the Sunnah to bring witnesses for revocable marriage (4) because of Allah's Saying: "Then when they are about to attain their term appointed, either take them back in a good manner or part with them in a good manner. And take as witness two just persons from among you (Muslims). And establish the testimony for Allâh." (5)

Irrevocable divorce:

In which a husband cannot take his wife back in marriage, and that is divided into two types:

The first type is: The minor irrevocable marriage which has two cases:

First, a husband may divorce his wife the first or the second divorce and waits until her `Iddah (waiting period) is over, in this case she will become forbidden for him and he may not take her back in marriage until he concludes a new marriage contract.

The second case: If a husband divorces his wife before the commencement of marriage, there shall be no waiting period and she cannot go back to her husband but with a new marriage contract and a new dowry because of Allah's Saying: "O you who believe! When you marry believing women, and then divorce them before you have sexual intercourse with them, no 'Iddah [divorce prescribed period] have you to count in respect of them. So give them a present, and set them free (i.e., divorce), in a handsome manner." (6) If `Iddah is not obligatory, taking the wife back in marriage is impossible because taking her back in marriage must be during the waiting period, hence the divorce shall be irrevocable.

As for sitting in privacy with the wife then divorcing her, it entails irrevocable divorce even if the waiting period is necessary because the waiting period is a precautionary procedure to prove lineage.

The second type is called a major irrevocable divorce in which a husband divorces his wife three times such as divorcing her then taking her back in marriage or marries her then divorces her then takes her back in marriage or marries her then divorces her for the third time. This kind of divorce makes her prohibited to her husband until she marries another husband according to the view of the consensus, and her husband cannot take her back in marriage.

(1) See Majmu` Al Fatawa 33/9, Al Mudawanah 2/3, Al Majmu` Sharh Al Muhadhdhab 17/262, and Al Mughny 7/589.

(2) Surat Al Baqarah: 228.

(3) Al Fatawa Al Kubra 6/54.

(4) This is the view of the majority: The Hanafi, the Maliki, and the Shafi`i, and the most correct view of Imam Ahmad, see: Al Bahr Ar-Ra'iq 4/55, Al `Inayah Sharh Al Hidayah 5/399, Al Majmu` Sharh Al Muhadhdhab 17/269, and Al Mughny 8/482.

(5) Surat At-Talaq: 2.

(6) Surat Al Ahzab: 49.


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