This hadeeth is narrated from the trustworthy narrator Mu’arrif ibn Waasil, from the trustworthy imam Muhaarib ibn Dathaar (d. 116 AH), who was one of the Taabi’een. But it came from Mu’arrif via two isnaads.
1 – A muttasil isnaad from Mu’arrif ibn Waasil, from Muhaarib, from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
This was narrated by Muhammad ibn Khaalid al-Wahabi, from Mu’arrif, like this with an isnaad, as recorded by Abu Dawood (2178), and via al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra (7/322), and Ibn ‘Adiy in al-Kaamil (6/2453).
2 – A mursal isnaad from Mu’arrif ibn Waasil, from Muhaarib ibn Dathaar, from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), without any mention of Ibn ‘Umar.
It was narrated thus by Ahmad ibn Yoonus, Yahya ibn Bakeer and Wakee’ ibn al-Jarraah,
As recorded by Abu Dawood in al-Sunan (2177), al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra (7/322), Ibn Abi Shaybah in al-Musannaf (5/253); it was also mentioned by al-Sakhaawi in al-Maqaasid al-Hasanah (11), and al-Daaraqutni in al-‘Ilal (13/225).
When the muhaddithoon saw that those who narrated it via a mursal isnaad were more trustworthy and more numerous than those who narrated via a muttasil (connected) isnaad, they thought it more likely to be mursal, and mursal is one of the types of da’eef (weak) ahaadeeth. They stated that those who narrated it with a muttasil isnaad from Ibn ‘Umar from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) were either mistaken or confused.
Ibn Abi Haatim said:
My father said: It is only Muhaarib, from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Mursal. End quote.
Al-Daaraqutni (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: It is more likely to be mursal. End quote.
Al-Bayhaqi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
It is mursal. According to the report of Ibn Abi Shaybah from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar it is mawsool. End quote.
Al-Sunan al-Kubra (7/322).
Ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said of it being mursal: it is more likely the case. End quote.
Al-Muharrir fi’l-Hadeeth (1/567).
In al-Maqaasid al-Hasanah (p. 11), al-Sakhaari thought is more likely to be mursal. End quote.
Shaykh Ahmad Shaakir (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in ‘Umdat al-Tafseer (1/583): There is some doubt as to whether it is saheeh. End quote.
Al-Albaani said in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel (2040): To sum up: the hadeeth was narrated from Mu’arrif ibn Waasil by four trustworthy narrators: Muhammad ibn Khaalid al-Waahibi, Ahmad ibn Yoonus, Wakee’ ibn al-Jarraah and Yahya ibn Bakeer.
They differed concerning it. The first of them narrated it from Muhaarib ibn Dathaar from Ibn ‘Umar in a marfoo’ report (i.e., attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)).The others said it was narrated from him from Muhaarib in a mursal report.
The one who has knowledge of hadeeth will not doubt that the narration of these men is more valid, because they are more numerous and had better memories. They are all among those whose hadeeth the two Shaykhs (al-Bukhaari and Muslim) narrated in al-Saheehayn. So it comes as no surprise that Ibn Abi Haatim narrated from his father that the hadeeth is most likely mursal, and that al-Daaraqutni suggested the same in al-‘Ilal, and al-Bayhaqi did likewise, as al-Haafiz said in al-Talkhees (3/205). al-Khattaabi said something similar and al-Mundhiri followed him in Mukhtasar al-Sunan (3/92): The well known view is that it is mursal. End quote.
The hadeeth has a corroborating report from Mu’aadh ibn Jabal (may Allaah be pleased with him), which was narrated by al-Daaraqutni in al-Sunan (4/35) and Ibn ‘Adiy in al-Kaamil (2/694), with the wording: “Allaah has not permitted anything more hated to Him than divorce.” And there are other versions, but its isnaad is da’eef jiddan (very weak) and it is not valid to be quoted as evidence.
But although it is most likely that the hadeeth cannot be soundly attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), its meaning is sound.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
It is narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allaah is divorce.” This hadeeth is not saheeh, but its meaning is sound: Allaah hates divorce, but He does not forbid it to His slaves, so as to make things easier for them. If there is a legitimate shar’i or regular reason for divorce, then it is permissible and depends on the likely outcome of keeping this woman as one's wife. If keeping her will lead to something that is contrary to sharee’ah which cannot be avoided except by divorcing her, such as if the woman is lacking in religious commitment or chastity, and the husband cannot set her straight, then in this case we say that it is better to divorce. But if there is no shar’i reason or ordinary reason, then it is better not to divorce, rather in that case divorce is makrooh. End quote.
Liqaa’aat al-baab il-Maftooh, no. 55, question no. 3
And Allaah knows best.