Question # 291: Can you explain Tahleel Marriage?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Tahleel marriage is a marriage in which a man marries a woman after she has been divorced three times by her [former] husband, solely for the purpose of making her permissible/ lawful for her [former] husband to remarry her. Hence, such an arrangement is a major sin, and the marriage contract itself is invalid and regard that as zina (adultery) in Shari’ah. It does not matter if the intention of halalah (making her permissible to her former husband) is stipulated or not in the marriage contract  The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Allah has cursed the one who marries a divorced woman with the intention of making her lawful for her former husband and cursed the one for whom she is made lawful.”

Long Answer: If this man divorced his wife one or two times only, then he may remarry her with a new marriage contract; however, if he divorced her three times, then that is an irrevocable divorce with major separation. There is no way for him to remarry her except if she married another man (in a genuine marriage) and that another man then happens to divorce her or passes away. In this case, her ex-husband may remarry her after her ‘Iddah (waiting period) ends. It is important to note that her marriage to the other man must be with the intention of staying with him, and it cannot merely be a Tahleel marriage (done with the sole purpose of becoming lawful to her ex-husband again) because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And if he has divorced her [for the third time], then she is not lawful to him afterward until [after] she marries a husband other than him. And if the latter husband divorces her [or dies], there is no blame upon the woman and her former husband for returning to each other if they think that they can keep [within] the limits of Allah. These are the limits of Allah, which He makes clear to a people who know.” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:230)

It is stipulated that this marriage which will make her permissible for her first husband should be a valid marriage. Temporary marriage (mut’ah marriage) or marriage for the purpose of making her permissible for her first husband then divorcing her (tahleel marriage) are both haraam and invalid according to the vast majority of scholars, and it does not make the woman permissible for her first husband. (See al-Mughni)

There are sahih ahadith from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) which show that tahleel marriage is haraam:

  • Abu Dawood narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Allah has cursed the muhallil and the muhallal lahu.” This was classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Sunan Abi Dawood. [The muhallil is the one who marries a woman and divorces her so that she can go back to her first husband, and the muhallal lahu is the first husband.]
  • Ibn Majah narrated from ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Shall I not tell you of a borrowed billy-goat.” They said, Yes, O Messenger of Allah. He said, “He is al-muhallil. May Allah curse al-muhallil and al-muhallal lahu.” Classed as hasan by al-Albani in Sahih Sunan Ibn Majah.
  • ‘Abd al-Razzaaq narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (رضي الله عنه) said whilst addressing the people: “By Allah, no muhallil or muhallal lahu will be brought to me but I will stone them.”

This applies whether he states his intention clearly when doing the marriage contract and they stipulate that when he has made her permissible for her first husband he will divorce her, or they do not stipulate that and he intends it to himself only. [In fact, that which is intended is like that which is stipulated, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Actions are but by intentions and each person will have but that which he intended.” (al-Bukhari)]

  • Al-Haakim narrated from Naafi’ that a man said to Ibn ‘Umar: I married a woman and made her permissible for her first husband, and he did not tell me to do that and he did not know. He said: No, marriage should be based on genuine intentions; if you like her then keep her, and if you do not like her then leave her. He said: At the time of the Messenger of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) we would regard that as zina (adultery). And he said: They will still be adulterers, even if they remain for twenty years.

(The above reply is based on various answers provided by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and various answers by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam