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OCD, Baseless Misgivings (Waswasa) and Divorce

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QUESTION

I have an extreme condition of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). I had an argument with my wife, and the next day while I was taking a bath, the previous day’s argument scene came into my mind. I started imagining the scene (like a flash back), and whilst imagining, I uttered the words ‘Talaq’ 3 times. When I say uttered, I mean my lips moved but I did not hear myself clearly. It was more like murmuring, and the voice was so low that I could not hear myself and neither anyone next to me would be able to hear what I was saying. However, I was in the bath with the water tap running.

 

Please could you let me know if this has any implications on my marriage? Also, please advice what I can do to treat this condition, as I get a lot of waswasa (misgivings)?

 

ANSWER

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

 

To begin with, it should always be remembered that merely thinking about divorce or having baseless misgivings (waswasa) about it does not Islamically constitute a divorce, as long as one does not actually issue a divorce verbally or in writing.

 

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, ‘Indeed, Allah has overlooked for my Umma the misgivings/thoughts that occur in their hearts, as long as they do not act upon it, or speak about it.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim)

 

If during such thoughts, even if one was to utter or murmur words of divorce in such a soft, low, or indistinct way that, under normal circumstances [i.e. when there is no external cause for not being able to hear], it is not possible for the speaker to hear himself, then that too does not constitute divorce.

 

It is stated in Maraqi al-Falah:

If one thinks about divorce in the heart, and the tongue [also] moves, [but] without making an utterance that can be heard, then divorce does not occur, even if letters were correctly formed.’ (Maraqi al-Falah with Hashiya al-Tahtawi, P: 219)

 

Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states in his renowned Al-Durr al-Mukhtar:

‘The main integral (rukn) of divorce is the specific statement (lafdh makhsus).’ (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala ‘l-Durr 3/230)

 

He also states:

‘The minimal of ‘loud/audible (jahr)’ utterance is that others are able to hear the speaker, and the minimal of ‘soft/inaudible (makhafat)’ utterance is that the speaker is able to hear himself… As such, if one utters divorce… but is unable to hear himself, the divorce does not count, according to the sounder opinion.’ (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala ‘l-Durr 1/534-535)

 

Hence, in order for a divorce to be considered effective, it needs to be uttered or pronounced in such a manner that, in normal circumstances, one would be able to hear himself. Simply forming the letters with lip and tongue movement, without producing any actual sound, is of no consequence. (See: Fatawa Mahmudiyya 12/249)

Indeed, if one is absolutely certain (yaqin) of hearing himself, or if there was some external cause that prevented hearing, one is sure that without such cause, one would have heard one’s self, then it will constitute divorce.

The basic principle (qa’ida fiqhiyya), that all people prone to misgivings should keep in mind, states: ‘Certainty is not lifted by a doubt.’ (Ibn Nujaym, Al-Ashbah wa ‘l Nadhair) As such, the certainty of marriage (nikah) is not lifted by mere doubts or misgivings. It is only lifted by certainty of divorce.

 

I pray Allah Most High cures you from your condition and reward you for the difficulties you are facing, Ameen. It would be worthwhile visiting a qualified psychiatric and getting some professional medical help, Insha Allah.

 

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

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