• VALIDITY OF PRONOUNCEMENT OF TALAQ TA’LIQ KINAYAH VIA SMS

    THE VALIDITY OF PRONOUNCEMENT OF TALAQ TA’LIQ KINAYAH VIA SMS

    QUESTION REGARDING THE VALIDITY OF TALAQ VIA SMS: Assalamu’alaikum Peguam Syarie Faiz Adnan. I am Qasrina Qabeel from Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. I was married in accordance with hukum syara’ on 15th October 2015. We are blessed with one child, named Qaisara Kareem, now aged 2 years 6 months. Our marriage went well throughout the first two years of our marriage. Sadly, the third year of our marriage turned into a state of turmoil just as I found out that my husband is planning to marry his former student studying at the university where he works at. Obviously, I strongly object and take a stand against his plan especially that our marriage is still at its infancy stage and our daughter is still very young and needs the attention and commitment of both parents to develop and grow up healthily. I believe, if he were to marry another one, his attention towards our one and only child would slacken. What more, the lady had just graduated and is much younger than me. I do believe that his love and attention towards me would also diminish. I had twice gone to Lisa’s (the lady’s) house, only to give her advice to leave our family alone and find any other man as long as that man is not my husband. She must have told my husband about this, as one day, during office hours, he had sent me a text message (SMS) to my phone which reads, “If you meet Lisa just once more, I will move out of your life.” I felt challenged by my husband’s words and for the third time, I went to Lisa’s house just to prove to Lisa and my husband that I am not a coward without realising that my action, though could satisfy my feelings and anger, might also bite me like a double-edged sword. My question here is thus, is the text message that my husband sent to me amounts to a valid pronouncement of talaq (Ta’lik Kinayah)? And did my act of meeting Lisa after receiving the message from my husband would constitute a valid talaq ta’liq? Wassalam, thank you.

     

    ANSWER:

    1. Wa’alaikumussalam. Thank you, Puan Qasrina for the questions. First and foremost, I would like to extend my sincere sympathies and concern towards the adversity that befalls you. By examining the facts that you have presented and from the questions that you have posed to us, a few legal issues can be formularised, which are:
    • What is the form of pronouncement made by the husband?
    • Whether the text message (SMS) fulfils the valid conditions and pillars of talaq?
    • Whether there is a valid ta’liq divorce?

     

    WHAT IS THE FORM OF PRONOUNCEMENT OF TALAQ MADE BY THE HUSBAND

     

    1. Based on the facts above, your husband had sent you a text message (SMS) which reads, “If you meet Lisa just once more, I will move out of your life.Thus, the question which lies here is that, what is the actual or exact form of pronouncement of talaq that your husband had made. It is therefore crucial and of substance to determine whether the pronouncement of talaq which was made in the form of writing (kitabah) is classified as a sarih (express) or kinayah (implied) pronouncement of talaq.

     

    1. Based on the book entitled al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, written by Mustafa al Bugho and ‘Ali al-Syarbaji, page 116, a pronouncement of talaq can be divided into sarih (express) and kinayah (implied). Based on the abovementioned book, “Sarih talaq is a pronouncement of talaq which is used expressly/clearly signifying the meaning of talaq and the wording cannot be interpreted with other meaning(s). The wording or pronouncement can be classified into three, namely; talaq / divorce, release/free and separate.”

     

    1. Whereas, kinayah means “…every wording/pronouncement which may be interpreted as talaq or other than talaq,” as stated in the abovementioned book. In another kitab entitled al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu written by the eminent scholar; Wahbah al-Zuhaili, volume 7, page 502, kinayah pronouncement includes the pronouncement of talaq which is made in writing. Referring to the SMS which was sent by your husband and the aforementioned authorities from hukum syara’, it can clearly be seen that your husband’s SMS would constitute a pronouncement of talaq in the form of kinayah due to the following reasons:
    • The whole wordings of the sentence in the SMS of your husband did not contain the word “talaq”, “divorce”, “release” or “separate”. In fact, the word used could be interpreted to be meant as talaq or other than talaq.
    • Whereby the “pronouncement” was made in the form of a short message (SMS) which was typed by your husband but was not pronounced verbally to you at any material time.

     

    1. It is also important to note that, a kinayah talaq pronounced by way of SMS is merely the same as a written talaq (kitabah). This is following the maxim which is laid down in Article 69 of the Majalla which reads; “الكتاب كالخطاب” which carries the meaning of ‘the letter is considered as an oral expression’ as cited in the “Introduction to Middle Eastern Lawby Chibli Mallat. Thus, when it comes to a pronouncement of talaq in the form of SMS, as what happens in this present case, in order to determine whether the SMS is a kinayah or a sarih form of pronouncement of talaq, the word used in the SMS must be observed and considered, as what has been discussed in the foregoing paragraphs. And as discussed in the preceding paragraphs, if the pronouncement is in the form of kinayah, the intention of the husband whether to/not to divorce needs to be taken into account.

     

    WHETHER THE TEXT MESSAGE (SMS) FULFILS THE VALID CONDITIONS AND ELEMENTS OF TALAQ?

     

    1. In the message (SMS), your husband had written, “If you meet Lisa just once more, I will move out of your life.” The message was sent to your phone number from your husband’s phone number as stated in the facts of this case. In determining whether a valid talaq has been made or otherwise, based on the text message, it depends on whether all the pillars and conditions of a valid talaq have been fulfilled. In the book entitled al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu written by Wahbah al-Zuhaili, volume 7, page 479, the pillars of talaq according to the Shafi’ie Madzhab consist of five pillars:
    • The one who pronounces the talaq (Taliq)
    • Sighah
    • Mahal
    • Possessing wilayah
    • Possessing qasad

     

    1. Referring to the first pillar of talaq, if your husband is a mukallaf (baligh (had reached the age of puberty) and of sound mind) and had not been coerced to pronounce the talaq, thus the first pillar is fulfilled. Moving to the second pillar i.e. sighah, your husband had pronounced the talaq in the form of kinayah and in a written form which was a text message (SMS). Thus, since it was a kinayah form of pronouncement of talaq, it requires intention. If the lafaz or pronouncement is not accompanied with an intention to make a talaq, the pronouncement would not amount to a valid This is based on al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu written by Wahbah al-Zuhaili.

     

    1. Next, the third pillar of talaq is mahal. Referring to an unreported case of Mahad Ahmed Mohamed v Natasha Binti Zolkeflee, mahal talaq refers to whom the talaq is addressed to. Kitab I’anat al-Talibin states that, to make the lafaz talaq as one complete sentence, the language used in the sentence must also be comprehendible which shall include the status or the position of the person to whom the talaq was pronounced (mahal talaq) and the wording of the talaq In the above cited case, the Court referred to the sentence “It’s over between us”, whereby in the Plaintiff’s testimony, the Plaintiff admitted that the word “us” referred to both the Plaintiff and Defendant. The Defendant also testified that the Plaintiff had pronounced the talaq and had understood that the pronouncement was meant to divorce the Defendant. Thus, the Court was satisfied that the requirement of mahal talaq was fulfilled.

     

    1. Applying the above principle to this present case, the pronouncement of talaq was made in a written form, by way of kinayah, and was sent as a text message to your phone number by your husband. Thus, the third pillar is fulfilled as the words “I will move out of your life was addressed to you by your husband, as the lawful wife of your husband. From the sentence “I will move out of your life, the word “I” refers to your husband and the word “your” refers to you.

     

    1. Moving to the fourth pillar which is possessing wilayah. Wilayah means authority. In the above cited case, the Court was satisfied that the requirement of wilayah was also fulfilled in that case as when the talaq was pronounced, the Defendant was still the lawful wife of the Plaintiff and thus, was still under the wilayah or authority of the Plaintiff as the lawful husband of the Defendant. Applying the principle to this present case, if you have not been divorced by your husband prior to receiving the message (SMS) and you are still the lawful wife of your husband whilst the talaq is being pronounced, thus, this requirement is also fulfilled.

     

    1. The last pillar of talaq is qasad or intention. Since your husband had pronounced a kinayah talaq, thus, based on the kitab of al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu written by Wahbah al-Zuhaili as discussed above, only if your husband intended to divorce you whilst typing the message to you, would the pronouncement of talaq via the SMS, constitutes a valid pronouncement of talaq.

     

    WHETHER THERE IS A VALID FORM OF TA’LIQ DIVORCE

     

    1. It is also crucial to take into consideration that the lafaz kinayah was made together with ta’liq which states, “If you meet Lisa once more, I will move out of your life”. According to the kitab of al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu written by Wahbah al-Zuhaili, volume 7, page 565, sighah could be in the forms of attaching/annexing talaq to a matter which happens in the future and sighah which is not attached to a condition. There are three types of talaq, which are instant talaq, conditional talaq and talaq that is based on a future time.

     

    1. Based on the ta’liq that was made by your husband, it was a conditional ta’liq whereby talaq will only take place should the subject matter of the ta’liq is committed in the future, using the word such as; if, when, among others. Therefore, the lafaz talaq that was pronounced by your husband to you via the text message (SMS) was a lafaz kinayah and was pronounced conditionally (ta’liq) whereby, the talaq was conditional upon your meeting with Lisa after receiving the message from your husband.

     

    1. Nevertheless, despite you having met Lisa after receiving the SMS from your husband, your husband had used the word or term “will” or in Malay it would be translated to “akan”, a term which is expressing a future tense as elucidated in the Oxford Dictionaries. Thus, it is still questionable whether talaq would instantly fall or not. Two questions have to be considered. Firstly, whether the term “will” is merely a threat to divorce you should you meet Lisa once more after receiving the message, or in other words, whether your husband really intends to take an action to divorce you when using the word “will”. Secondly, whether talaq would instantly fall, once the action of, i.e. meeting Lisa, is fulfilled. Only if your husband intends to divorce you instantly once the action is fulfilled, would the pronouncement of talaq ta’liq constitute a valid pronouncement of divorce.

     

    CONCLUSION

    1. In conclusion, based on the above discussions, the pronouncement of talaq that was made by your husband (validity of talaq via SMS) was a kinayah pronouncement of talaq. Moreover, since the pronouncement of talaq is attached with a condition, such a pronouncement would constitute a conditional divorce (talaq ta’liq). The talaq ta’liq would only be valid after the condition is fulfilled. Nevertheless, since the words used are ambiguous and not clearly expressing talaq, thus, it depends on the intention of your husband if he really intends to divorce you or not. Since this issue involves several complicated matters, it is best and advisable for you to seek the aid and assistance of a Syarie lawyer to advise you regarding this matter. Wallahu a’lam. Thank you.

    Article published for Peguam Syarie Faiz Adnan