Hadith explanation

The Details of the Question
I really need your help. I need to know if the wife of the person here was a polytheist or not. 334. Abood-Darda´ radhiallaahu`anhu reported: A man came to me and said, "I have a wife whom my mother commands me to divorce". I replied to him that I had heard the Messenger of Allaah Sall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam saying, "A parent is the best of the gates of Jannah; so if you wish, keep to the gate, or lose it.´´ [At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah] Barak ALLAh oufikoum
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There are many hadiths regarding the issue. The narration about the issue is as follows: Abdullah b. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, I had a wife. I loved her. However, my father, Umar, did not like her. He told me to divorce her. I refused to divorce her. Thereupon, Umar went to the Prophet (pbuh) and talked to him. The Prophet (pbuh) ordered me to divorce her. (Abu Dawud,  Talaq 10; Tirmidhi Talaq 36; Ibn Majah,  Talaq 36; Ahmad b. Hanbal, IV, 33, 211)

That narration exists in four of the sunan books of Kutub Sittah (Six Hadith Books) and Tirmidhi said the hadith was hasan and sahih (sound). (see Zaynu’l-Iraqi, Takhriju ahadithi’l-Ihya-onunla  birlikte-, 2/57)

That hadith narration is important in that it determines the situation of the father. The content or discontent of the father in the family is of great importance.

An important point to be taken into consideration regarding that hadith should be this: The unbiased wish of Hazrat Umar, who became famous for his justice, who received inspiration and insight with the witnessing of hadiths, based on whose opinions some verses were sent down, was approved by the Prophet (pbuh).   

Although it is not stated in the hadith, it is highly probable that Hazrat Umar told the Prophet (pbuh) about the reason why he wanted them to divorce and the Prophet found the reason appropriate.   

Today, the wishes of a father who have the traits of Hazrat Umar can be taken into consideration. However, today, when there is an ethical collapse, it is probable that a father can be biased or be under the influence of a wrong suggestion. Therefore, we think that, in general, such wish of a father might not be pure enough to be fulfilled today because if it is unjust, the wish cannot be fulfilled even if it is the wish of one’s father. As it is stated in a hadith, the most unpleasant thing among the permissible things in the presence of Allah is divorcing a woman. To divorce a woman unjustly means oppression and the unilateral violation of a contract formed by marriage. They show that to divorce a woman unjustly is something that is not liked by Allah. Therefore, it can be said that the principle “a person cannot be obeyed regarding the issues that are contrary to the commands and prohibitions of Allah” is valid for a father who wants his son to divorce his wife unjustly. 

Ibn Atiyya states the following general principle regarding obedience to the mother and father: It is obligatory to obey the orders of the father and mother regarding the issues that are permissible to do. It is mustahab (recommended) to obey parents regarding the issues that are mandoob (preferred) or fard al-kifayah. When the son or daughter is between two obligations, he/she should prefer the wish of his father and mother. For instance, the mother is ill. She wants her son to stay with her and look after her.  If the son stays there, he will miss the prayer in congregation or he will delay the prayer until the last minute; if he does not obey his mother’s wish, he will join the congregation and perform the prayer on time. In such a case, it is necessary to prefer staying with mother. However, if fulfilling the mother’s wish causes the abandoning of a fard, the sun must not obey her. For instance, if taking care of his mother causes him to miss a prayer, he must perform the prayer first and then he can take care of his mother.

Is the son obliged to divorce his wife based on the wish of his father or mother?

The hadiths regarding the issue do not indicate that the son has to obey the wish of his parents unconditionally. Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) divorced his wife that he loved based on the command of the Messenger of Allah and based on his father’s wish but a general deduction cannot be made based on that incident. A father like Umar did not like his daughter-in-law and wished his son to divorce his wife; that wish is in the way of Allah. It is not about this world.  The decision of the Prophet (pbuh) to order Abdullah to divorce his wife based on the discontent of Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) is peculiar to Umar and people like him.  The fact that Umar did not like his daughter-in-law  for Allah and it is based on a reason that necessitates discontent in terms of religion. Therefore, the Prophet (pbuh) ordered Abdullah to divorce her. If there is not a special situation like that, the man does not have to obey anybody about divorcing his wife. However, if there is a legitimate reason that necessitates divorce, it is something completely different. As it is known there is a sound hadith that says, "The most unpleasant halal in the sight of Allah is divorce." (Abu Dawud, Talaq).

In his book az-Zawajir, Ibn Hajar Haythami states the following in brief in the chapter “Obedience to the father and mother”: “Rebellion against and disobedience to the father and mother means to oppress and hurt them harshly. What is taken into account in terms of oppressing and hurting is the state of the parents. That is, if the parents are hurt by something, the child should avoid it. However, if one or both of the parents order his son or daughter something or prohibit something because of insanity or not being able to discriminate between the good and the bad, and if it is not regarded as rebellion and disobedience in the custom of that community, the son or the daughter does not have to fulfill their wish and he/she is not regarded as a sinner. For instance, if a man loves his wife and does not want to divorce her but if one or both of his parents want him to divorce his wife, the son does not have to act in accordance with the wish of their parents even if the wish originates from a deficiency of the woman in terms of religion.  

The other orders and the prohibitions of the parents are like that. That is, if their orders or prohibitions are based on insanity or not being able to understand something, the son or the daughter does not have to obey them when the situation is not regarded as oppression or hurting them by reasonable people."

Therefore, the son does not have to obey the order of his parents to divorce his wife; he is not regarded to have committed a sin by disobeying that order of his parents. (Cf H. Hadiboğlu, Sünen-i İbn Mâce Terceme ve Şerhi, VI, 24-26; Sünen-i Ebu Davud Terceme ve Şerhi, Şamil Yayınevi: 16/420-421; İbrahim Canan, Kütüb-i Sitte Tercüme ve Şerhi, Akçağ Yayınları, 2/486)

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