Man divorces wife by text message

An Islamic man has given his wife her marching orders via a brief SMS message, but scholars warn that phone divorces should not be taken lightly
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

A man in Dubai who divorced his wife by a short text message has set a legal precedent for other Islamic divorce cases.

Under Islamic law, a man can divorce his wife by simply saying "I divorce thee" three times. The Dubai courts have now accepted that this can be done electronically, after a man divorced his wife by a single text message reading, "Why are you late? You are divorced."

The case was referred to Islamic scholars by the family reconciliation of the Dubai courts, in order to assess its validity. "All have said that the divorce is valid as the husband expressed the will to divorce and the wife received it," said religious scholar Abdel-Salam Darwish to the Gulf News.

Darwish decided that four conditions must be met for an electronically communicated divorce to be valid. The husband should be the sender of the message, and he must also wish to divorce. The phrasing must also be unambiguous, and finally the wife must receive the communication. As all four requirements were fulfilled in the above case, the divorce was granted.

In the past two months, 15 other Islamic divorce cases had involved mobile phone messages. Darwish has warned that divorce should not be taken more lightly in the era of electronic communications. "Supposing a husband jokingly sends his wife a message telling her he was divorcing her. Under Sharia law, the divorce would be valid."

The couple in question are in their mid-twenties, and had been married for two years. They are now living together again with their baby daughter, which is allowed under Islamic law.

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