Salaam Molana, I’ve been given this question by a friend of mine.
"So, my mum and dad have been together for over 22 years. Now back in the day, their deen wasn't up to scratch and around 14/15 years ago, my dad told me he said Talaaq to my mum angrily. Now, he doesn't remember how many times he said it and my mum is all concerned now because she has remembered that and it’s causing her a lot of stress as she thinks he may have said it three times. After this altercation, they made up and the word wasn't said again. They continued to live on normally. But they have been improving a lot on their deen in the past few years and have recently learned how giving a talaaq no matter what state you’re in counts.
Me and my family would obviously not want our parents to break up. But given the circumstances, what is the best option as both parents don’t know how many talaaqs were given exactly. It could've been 3 but they don’t know for sure. Should they separate and not be living together? Are they even married? There are all these questions that my mum is asking that I can’t answer. It’s causing a lot of stress for her. She thinks she has to leave my dad. But she is really confused and it’s on her mind all the time at the moment. Please if you send this message to someone who would give us a clear answer, I would be really grateful. Jazakallah."
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
There are two aspects to your question the first being angry while saying divorce, and the second as to how many divorces where said.
The jurists have categorised anger in three stages.
1. The initial stage of anger where one’s mind is sound and fully in control of what one is saying. In such a case talaaq will occur.
2. Extreme anger to the point of insanity, where one is unaware of where he is or what he is saying. In such a case talaaq will not occur.
3. Finally, that stage which is between the above two stages in that one was extremely angry but not to the point of insanity and was aware of what one was saying. In this case, also, talaaq will also occur.
Normally, it can be said that the anger does not reach the level of insanity as mentioned above, therefore divorce is valid and will take place.
However, in circumstances where it is claimed that the anger was such that a person lost his sanity, then in those occasions it is necessary that the person has a previous medical history of insanity or has been diagnosed by the doctor of being of an unstable mind, or has two male witness or one male and two female witnesses testifying that in fact on that occasion the person had indeed lost his sanity, then the divorce will not take effect.
Regarding your second question, if the wife is 100% certain that her husband had given her three divorces then her marriage with him is broken.
However, if she is not sure how many times he has said it then it is permissible for the wife to remain with him.
رد المختار ص٤٥٢ج٤
فتوى رحيميه ص٣١٨ج٨
فتوى دار العلوم ديوبند ص٤٢ج٩
Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Irfan Ali
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham