As Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu
A man pronounced divorce on his wife three times at once, what is the ruling on this?
If a man pronounces divorce on his wife three times, by saying to her: “You are thrice divorced” then the majority of the scholars hold that the three divorces upon the woman are counted and that she is then forbidden to her husband, until she marries another man of her choice –not Nikah At-Tahleel – and he has sexual intercourse with her and then parts from her by death or divorce. As evidence for this, they cited the fact that Umar bin Al-Khattab, (Radhi Allahu Anhu) endorsed it for the people.
Others among the scholars held that it is considered to be only one divorce, and that he may take her back as long as she is still in her waiting period. If she completed her waiting period, it is permissible for him to marry her with a new contract. As evidence they cited the Hadith confirmed in Sahih Muslim on he authority of ibn Abbas, (Radhi Allahu Anhu) in which he said: “In the time of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) and in the time of Abu Bakr (Radhi Allahu Anhu) and for two years during the Caliphate of Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu) three pronouncements of divorce were considered one. Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu) said: “Verily the people have been impatient in a matter in which they should be patient, so if we carry it out upon the people (it would be better)” so he carried it out upon them.
In another narration by Muslim, it is reported that Abu Sahba said to ibn Abbas (Radhi Allahu Anhuma) “Were not three taken as one, in the time of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) and in the time of Abu Bakr (Radhi Allahu Anhu) and for three years of the rule of Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu)? He replied “Yes.”
They also cited evidence in the narration of Imam Ahmad in his Musnad, with a good (Jayyid) chain of narrators, on the authority of ibn Abbas (Radhi Allahu Anhu) in which it is stated that Abu Rakanah pronounced divorce on his wife thrice and he became very depressed over her. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) returned her to him saying:
It is only one (divorce)
They use this Hadith and the one before it to apply to a divorce pronounced three times simultaneously. This reconciles between the two Hadith and the Words of Allah, the Most High.
“The divorce is twice” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 229)
And the Words of Him, the Almighty, the All-Powerful
“And if he has divorced her (the third time), then she is not lawful unto him thereafter until she has married another husband.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 230)
And ibn Abbas, (Radhi Allahu Anhu) held this opinion, according to an authentic narration from him, and he supported the view of the majority in another narration from him.
The view that it is counted as one is narrated from Ali Abdur-Rahman bin Awf and Az-Zubair bin Al-Awwam (Radhi Allahu Anhu) and this was the opinion of a group among the Tabi’een and Muhammad bin Ishaq, the author of As-Sirah, as well as a group of he earlier and the later scholars and Shaikh Al-Islam ibn Taimiyyah and his student ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on them both) and that is my verdict. This is because by it, all of the evidences are acted upon, and also because therein lies mercy and kindness for the Muslims.
Shaikh Ibn Baz (Rahimahullah)
Reference: Fatawa Islamiyah Volume 6 Pages 33-35