Did Ibn Taymiyyah go against the binding consensus with his opinion on divorce?
Ibn Taymiyyah and the three divorce issue:
Ibn Rushd [may Allah have mercy upon him] died nearly 200 years before Ibn Taymiyyah’s birth wrote in his monumental classic Bidāyat al-Mujtahid wa Nihāyat al-Muqtaid concerning this issue. “The contention of the majority of the scholars is that three pronouncements of divorce are equal to three divorces. The Dhahiriyah and a group of others hold that such and act is equal to only one divorce.”
Thus, it is quite clear from this statement that Ibn Taymiyyah did not reject the ‘Ijma of the scholars on this issue since, as Ibn Rushd mentioned, there was only a “Majority” and no “‘Ijm’a” consensus on the issue.
However, the question arises as to why Ibn Taymiyyah would take such an opinion.
Imam al-Shaf’i, Imam Abo Dawud, Imam al-Daraqtuni relate that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Ruk’a divorced his wife three times in one sitting. Thereafter he was extremely grieved and went to the Prophet [may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] and complained to him. The Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] asked him, “How did you divorce your wife?” He responded, “I pronounced three divorces at once.” The Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] responded, “Indeed, this type of divorce is only equal to one divorce.”
Some scholars questioned the strength of this hadith stating that it was mutarib such as Imam al-Bukhari. However, Ibn Kathir states, “However, Abu Dawod narrated it with a different chain and it is a good hadith inshallah.” See Bidyatul Mujtahid Dar al-Salam print volume 2 pg 1383.
In addition, Imam Ahmed adds that the Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] said, “Return her if you like?” Ibn Abbas adds, “So he returned her” and Imam Ahmed considered this narration good.
al-Hakim relates that a man came to Ibn ‘Abbas and asked him, “Are you aware that three divorces during the time of the Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] equaled one [divorce]?” Ibn Abbas responded, “Yes.” al-Hakim states that this hadith is sound.
Dr. Abdullah al-’Uhad states, “There was a group of scholars who contended that one pronouncement of divorce could not follow another (meaning one said I divorce you! I divorce you! I divorce you! All at the same moment) but that, if it took place, it would only count as one divorce. This was related by Abu Musa as the opinion of Ali bin Abi Talib [may Allah be pleased with him], Ibn ‘Abbas, Tawus, ‘Ata, Jabir bin Zaid, al-Hadi, al-Qasim, al-Baqir, al-Nasir Ahmed bin ‘Esa and Zaib bin ‘Ali [may Allah be pleased with them all]
This was also the opinion fo some of the later day scholars: Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al-Qayyim and other critical scholars. This was also related to be the opinion of the scholars or Cordoba and is currently followed by a large body of Muslim scholars do to its ease and removal of hardship.” See Sharh Bidayatul al-Mujtahid pg. 1384
Another proof used is qiyas [analogy] on other acts of worship that involve words and testaments:
1. If one witness said, “I swear by Allah twenty times that this happened.” It would only be counted as one witness
2. If a man said, “I committed zina five hundred times.” He would only be punished for one act of zina
3. If a person sat after prayer and said, “I glorify Allah thirty three times, praise him thirty three times and I recognize His greatness 33 times.” It would only count as saying each on of those things once.
See Sub al-Salam of al-San’ani