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Last Updated: 2006/08/21
Summary of question
Is a divorce done by SMS permissible?
question
Is a divorce which is done by SMS (text message or Short Message Service) valid?
Concise answer

The divorce process, in Islam, beholds a number of prerequisites.

Conditions attributed to the man (who executes the divorce) include:

1.       sanity (ought not be insane)

2.       pubescent (can’t be a child or infant)

3.       executing the divorce, voluntarily, of one’s own free will (neither under coercion nor with reluctance)

 

Conditions attributed to the woman include:

1.       being a permanent wife (not a temporary one [concubine])

2.       being pure (clear) from menstrual or childbirth (nifas) blood; if she is in her menstrual/nifas period, divorce may not be realised

 

Conditions attributed to the divorce’s contract formula include:

1.       reciting the specific canonical formula

2.       reciting the required words; divorces may not be realised via writing or signalling the formula. Exceptions, however, are made for the speech-impaired.

3.       being recited before two male, just witnesses.

 

It is now clear that divorces may not be carried out via telephone calls or SMSs albeit by the husband; divorces require verbal recitations and the presence of two just witnesses. Note, however, that the woman’s presence is not a prerequisite due to the fact that divorces are essentially unilaterally-executed contracts which may only be carried out by the husband or his attorney. Once the divorce is finalised, the former wife may be notified by whatever possible means, including SMSs.

 

Grand Ayatollah Makarim’s Response

It does not suffice.

 

Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani’s Response

No it isn’t; the divorce must be carried out following the standard procedures. However, one may notify the divorce’s execution by employing such means (of communication).

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