Delegating the Right of Divorce (tafwid)

The Husband retains the right to issue a divorce, but the Shariah also allows the husband to delegate this right to his wife or a third party, with or without stipulating conditions. Once this power is delegated, it can not be revoked or withdrawn, unless a condition stipulates a time limit or some other break from the right.

This is based upon the incident where the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) gave his wives the option to remain in his marriage or be divorced.

‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was commanded to give option to his wives, he started it from me saying: I am going to mention to you a matter which you should not (decide) in haste until you have consulted your parents. She said that he already knew that my parents would never allow me to seek separation from him She said: Then he said: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: Prophet, say to thy wives: If you desire this world’s life and its adornment, then come, I will give you a provision and allow you to depart a goodly departing; and if you desire Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter, then Allah has prepared for the doers of good among you a great reward She is reported to have said: About what should I consult my parents, for I desire Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter? She (‘A’isha) said: Then all the wives of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) did as I had done.

Sahih Muslim 1475

The Companions (Sahaba, Allah be pleased with them all) also unanimously agreed upon the validity of delegating the right to divorce to the wife. (See: al-Mawsili, al-Ikhtiyar li ta’lil al-Mukhtar, 2/166 & Zaylai’i, Nab al-Raya, 3/229).

The Hanafi Jurist, Imam al-Sarakhsi states, “If a man delegates the right to divorce to his wife, then this is similar to giving an option (khiyar) in trade, except that this is completely valid and logical, for the husband is the owner of issuing the divorce, thus he is in a position of delegating something that he owns. Hence, it will be binding, in that the husband will not have the right to revoke this delegation.” (al-Mabsut, 7/221)

Talaq e Tafwid according to the Hanafi’s

  1. When the husband delegates the right to divorce to the wife, she will only have this right in the session (majlis) that she is in. If she did not exercise her right, then this right will go in vain. However, if the husband delegates this right for a specific period (e.g. 5 years) or permanently, then she will have this right accordingly. (Radd al-Muhtar & al-Ikhtiyar)
  2. The wife will only have a right to divorce herself according to what was delegated to her. If the husband delegated to her the right to divorce herself once (and not two or three times), or he delegated the right to divorce herself irrevocably, then she will have this right accordingly. She will only be allowed to utilize this right in a manner it was delegated to her. (Radd al-Muhtar)
  3. Once the husband delegates this right to his wife, he can not overturn or revoke it. (Durr al-Mukhtar)
  4. If the right to divorce was delegated for a specific period of time and the wife did not utilize this right in that period, then upon the termination of this period, the right will also no longer remain. (al-Ikhtiyar)
  5. By delegating the right to divorce once, the husband still has a right to divorce his wife for the other two. Delegation of this right does not imply that the husband no longer has a right to issue a divorce. (al-Ikhtiyar)
  6. If the wife rejects accepting this right of divorcing herself, then if the delegation was permanent, her rejection will be of no consequence, in that she will still have this right permanently despite rejecting the offer. However, if this delegation was not permanent, then by rejection, the right to divorce will terminate. (al-Ikhtiyar)

Different stages of delegation

  1. If the delegation (tafwid) took place after the marriage, then this is permitted.
  2. If the delegation (tafwid) took place during the time of Nikah (contract), then this is permitted, if the offer of marriage is initiated by the woman coupled with the demand for Tafwid, and the man accepts this. If the opposite takes place, it will be void. (Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 3/329).
  3. If the delegation (tafwid) took place before the nikah, in other words, the woman demands the right to divorce herself if they are to get married. This is permitted if he attributes the delegation to the marriage, he would need to say, ‘If I marry you, then you have the right to issue one divorce upon yourself.’, else it will be void. (Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 3/344 & al-Ikhtiyar, 2/ 170)

Delegating to a third party

The husband may approach his father, or his teacher, or a mediator and delegate one of his rights to them. In future, if he wants to divorce his wife, he will need to approach them to give the divorce. The third party will naturally ask why and Inshaa Allah bring them back together. If this doesnt work, one can claim divorce wasn’t given in haste at least.

Adding to the contract

A man may give 1, 2 or all 3 rights of divorce and may specify a time limit. If he does not specify a time limit, then it only lasts that one sitting.

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