Pronouncing Divorce Under Duress

Divorce is the most hated permissible thing in the sight of Allah. It dissolves families and deprives children of the family atmosphere. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The most hateful permissible thing (al-Halal) in the sight of Allah is divorce” (Reported by Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah).
The spouses should avoid divorce as much as possible. If they have difficulties and problems, they should be patient and forbearing. They have to try to work out their differences and seek help from their relatives, friends, or professional counsellors.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: According to the vast majority of scholars divorce pronounced under duress cannot be considered as valid. This is the view of the majority of imams, scholars of the past as well as the present, including most of the eminent Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

This ruling is based on a number of facts, among which are the following: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Allah has lifted the obligation from people with respect to their slips, forgetfulness and that which they have been coerced into.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is also reported to have said, “Divorce is not valid when one’s mind is blocked.” This has been interpreted to indicate the state of a person who is not in full possession of his senses because of being under the influence of extreme anger or emotional or physical pressures exerted on him. Since a person in such a state cannot be expected to make a free and well-considered decision, his utterance of divorce cannot be considered as valid. The above ruling is further strengthened by the following well known Prophetic hadith: “Actions are reckoned by intentions.”
In light of the above, the pronouncement of divorce, uttered in a state of duress, without prior intention to divorce, cannot be considered as valid.