Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
What is cheating in Islam for men? Men are allowed four wives, do not have to inform either one of the marriage and do not need permission. This would mean that a man does not owe his wife any loyalty from a legal perspective.
Does that mean that cheating in Islam for men is considered a transgression against one’s self only and not an injustice to another human being, such as the wife? So if a man cheats on his wife by flirting with another woman, his sin is only between him and Allah and does not involve the rights of his wife, whereas if a woman cheats, she would also have to answer her husband on the Day of Judgment. Scholars advise men not to do that, but they don’t say it’s haram or unfair; they just say it’s a lack of adab.
Thank you for your question.
Cheating, in English, has various meanings. In Islam, only two words describe this: Fornication and adultery. It is called fornication if intercourse happens when the perpetrator is unmarried, and it is called adultery if the perpetrator has intercourse with another while being married. Committing either is a crime against oneself, against Allah and against the one whom one had intercourse with, and against both families, too.
Allah says in the Quran, “Those who guard their chastity, except with their wives or those (bondwomen) in their possession, for then they are free from blame, but whoever seeks beyond that are the transgressors; (the believers are also) those who are true to their trusts and covenants;” [Quran, 23:5-8]
Please see this link for details: What Exactly Is Zina?
Flirting with a non-mahram is sinful because it is one of the steps that lead to fornication. One must stay within gender interaction limits, whether married or not. If one is flirting with a woman while married, and the wife finds out, it’s common decency that he apologize to his wife. Islam doesn’t condone hurting people’s feelings.
Please see this link: How to Deal with an Untrustworthy Flirtatious Husband?
No one has to answer to one’s husband, or anyone else, on the Day of Judgment, only to Allah Most High. Our Lord Most Exalted has told us, “(Watch for) the Day when every soul will be presented with whatever good it has done. And it will wish that its misdeeds were far off. And Allah warns you about Himself. And Allah is Ever Gracious to (His) servants.” [Quran, 3:30]
And He says, “Whoever does good, it is to their own benefit. And whoever does evil, it is at their own loss. Your Lord is never unjust to (His) creation.” [Quran, 41:46]
And He says, “This record of Ours speaks the truth about you. Indeed, We always had your deeds recorded (by the angels).” [Quran, 45:29]
And Allah reminds us in this verse, “By the (passage of) time! Surely humanity is in (grave) loss, except those who have faith, do good, and urge each other to the truth, and urge each other to patience.” [Quran, 103:1-3]
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin and completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.