My husband and I were experiencing problems in our marriage. My husband's and my knowledge was limited as to what constitutes a divorce in Islam. I truly believed that one divorce was constituted by my husband saying ‘talaaq’ three times and as such, had the opportunity to reconcile within the iddah period should that be the case. On that basis, my husband uttered the words ‘talaaq’ three times with the intention of it constituting one divorce. You should also note that I was on my menses at that time.
We evaluated our relationship and within one month. I and my husband decided to get back together and reconcile. At this time, we had been advised that my husband’s utterance of the word ‘talaaq’ three times constituted three separate divorces and as such, we were no longer husband and wife with no opportunity to reconcile. We are unable to fathom this as due to our limited knowledge and my husband’s intention not to irrevocably divorce me at that time that this looks the case based on what we have been told. Had we have known this at the relevant time, my husband would never have said the word talaq three times. We would appreciate some much-needed guidance on our circumstances as the intention was not to pronounce three talaaqs, just one with the opportunity to get back together which we have now done.
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Normally, it is prohibited for a man to divorce his wife by saying three pronouncements of divorce in one statement. This is known as an innovated form of divorce [talaq al-bid`ah] and must be avoided by all Muslim men. Imam Quduri explains: “The innovated form of divorce is that someone divorces her three times in one statement or three times in one period of purity…and he is sinful [for doing that].”
Sadly, too many men engage in this wrongful behaviour, out of ignorance, assuming it is the correct thing to do. However, Imam Quduri goes on to explain: “If he does that, the divorce takes effect and his wife becomes irrevocably divorced from him, though he is sinful for that action.” Therefore, according to the Hanafi school, and the other three schools of Islamic Law [Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali] the triple divorce does count as three, even if he claims that he didn’t intend it.
However, if he claims that he intended the first statement of divorce, but the other two were only for emphasis or explanation, then the Hanafi text, Al-Fataawaa Al-Hindiyyah, states: “If he says: ‘I intended by the first one a pronouncement of divorce and by the second and third only to explain it to her’, then he will be believed religiously [suddiqa diyaanatan] but in judgement [qadaa’] she will be considered divorced three times.”
Therefore, there is a criterion which a Muslim judge will decide by if the issue goes to court and a separate criterion in the sight of Allah. In this regard, contemporary Muslim scholar, Mufti Ebrahim Desai, approved a fatwa where it was stated, “if he uttered three divorces with different/separate words and he clearly intended to issue only one Talaq, but repeated the remaining two words as emphasis and not to issue a separate Talaq, then, in this case, one Talaq will take place. …If the intention was clearly to issue only one divorce, then only one Talaq will take place.” So if the husband is being honest in his intention of only pronouncing one statement of divorce, it will be Islamically allowed for them to consider it as only one retractable divorce and there is no need for them to elevate this matter to an Islamic Shariah court since the judgment would be the opposite.
Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Mustafa Umar
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham
 Mukhtasar Al-Quduri p. 408, Taha Publishers, 2010
 Al-Fataawaa Al-Hindiyyah 1:356, Darul Fikr, 1310AH