Marriage: Remarriage after divorce

Q366 :My friend's sister was divorced two years ago by her husband and received everything that was due to her. Two years later, she was reunited with her former husband in marriage, but without marrying another man in between divorce and remarriage. This is contrary to the teachings of Hanafi school of thought. How far is it important to restrict oneself to the teachings of a particular school of thought?

A366 : It is by no means obligatory to follow strictly one school of thought in every ruling it makes. It is true that some students of Islamic scholarship may say that one should adhere to one school of thought, but that is neither possible nor practical. Within the same school of thought, you have different opinions. It is well know that Imam Al Shaf'ie himself changed many of his rulings after he settled in Egypt during the last five years of his life. Similarly, Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal, is quite often quoted to have expressed two views on the same question. Sometimes, one of the pillars among the scholars in a particular school of thought may differ with its founder on a specific issue. Thus you may find Imam Abu Youssuf or Mohammed ibn Al-Hassan differing with Imam Abu Hanifah on a particular issue. Such differences are a mark of the strength of Islamic scholarship and its solid foundation. Rigidity means weakness,,while flexibility and progress indicate strength. Islamic scholarship has produced over the centuries a long line of great scholars, each of whom may be considered on the same level with the founders of the four major schools of thought. No one suggests that their opinions and scholarships should be ignored. Moreover, it is often noted that the particular circumstances of a certain question make the verdict given by a particular school of though more appropriate, although the persons involved in that question belong to a different school. Furthermore, how does a person who has little knowledge of Islamic teachings choose his school of thought? Is it not true that most of us say that they follow the Hanafi school of thought simply because it is the predominant one in their country of residence, or because they have heard from their parents that they belong to that school? Is this a reason to prevent them from seeking advice by other scholars? Certainly not. As far as the practical aspect of following a single school of thought, this is impossible in most cases. I should say that it may be possible in a country where the overwhelming majority of scholars belong to a single school of thought, but nowadays when people have the means to go to different scholars, it is not that easy. You can compare seeing the opinion of a scholar to that of consulting a doctor. When you have a patient in the family, you try to take him to a specialist in the particular area of his complaint. You go to the doctor and show him the patient and seek his advice. When he has written you a prescription, you do not ask him at which university he has learned his profession and in which book he has read that this particular medicine is good for this particular condition and so on. When you go to a scholar to seek his opinion, or when you write to the religious editor of Arab News, you do not start by asking him to which school of thought he belongs. You simple state the case and seek advice. On the particular question you have asked, there is a simple answer. I guess from the way you phrased your question that the woman's husband pronounced the word of divorce "I divorce you", three times in succession. He may have done this because he has learned, (from hearsay I should say), that this is the proper way to divorce one's wife. Let me say it clearly that this is the improper way. It is indeed forbidden to repeat the words of divorce three times in succession. Once only is the correct way. These three times are considered by substantial number of scholars as one time divorce. Therefore, the divorce is revokable and a remarriage between the man and his former wife is possible without the intervention of another marriage. Let me say clearly that to make special arrangements with another man to marry a woman who has been divorced three times, just for one night, or one week or indeed for any length of time, in order to make it possible for her to return to her husband is absolutely forbidden. Furthermore, it does not make her lawful to be reunited in marriage with her former husband. However, such intervention was not made in the case of this woman. Therefore, her reunion with her former husband is acceptable. Let them be careful that should a divorce take place in the family again, the word of divorce must be said once only.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )