On the authority of Abu Hurayrah; the Messenger - صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم - said:
There are three affairs that are serious, whether you say them seriously or jokingly, they are serious:
taking back your [divorced] wife.”
The Shaykh, may Allaah preserve him, comments:
Meaning that a person divorces his wife then says that he was only joking and wasn’t serious when he divorced her, or says I only wanted to joke around and so on. This is not considered to be joking, because these three issues are serous whether saying them seriously or jokingly. So she would be divorced.
If this were not the case, everyone who divorced his wife would say that he was only joking. But the clear statement of divorce, if it is uttered then it is considered to be a divorce. If he says that he was only joking, well indeed his joke about this matter is serious.
His statement: “There are three affairs that are serious, whether you say them seriously or jokingly, they are serious…”
So whether a person intends them and is serious or says them jokingly, indeed they are serious and are implemented. So it is not befitting to be careless and negligent in the likes of these matters and joke about them.
His statement: “Marriage, divorce and taking back your [divorced] wife.”
Some of the scholars added the freeing of a slave, but there aren’t any authentic Ahaadeeth concerning it. In ‘Awn al Ma’bood’ it states: “Abu Bakr Al Ma’aarifee stated: there is a narration with the addition of the freeing of a slave but there are no authentic Ahaadeeth concerning [all of] them.”
If what he intended was that there are no authentic Ahaadeeth with the conditions of an authentic Hadeeth, then there is no issue here, but if he intended that the Hadeeth is inauthentic then this statement is not fully correct, for indeed it is Hasan as was declared by at Tirmidhi as well as al Albaanee who mentioned its supporting narrations.
[The Shaykh was asked the following question related to this specific issue.]
How can one joke about marriage?
[The Shaykh, may Allaah preserve him, responded:] For example a man marries his daughter to someone, then says I was only playing and joking around, I didn’t intend marriage.