Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Do I need to disclose information about my father’s sins when getting to know someone as a potential spouse?
My father has a gambling problem and I am not very close with him. I’m always uncertain about how much I should share if any. In my community, this information can easily be found out so I thought honesty was better, but I have been rejected because of my father.
I know we do not need to disclose personal past sins, but what about the current sins of family members?
Thank you for your question. I empathize with your frustration and your desire to protect your father. May Allah reward you for your sincerity and honesty.
It is not permissible for you to expose your father’s sin to any suitor. Respecting his dignity is your obligation. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), said, “All my community will be excused except those who commit sins openly. Committing them openly includes a man who does something shameful at night and when morning comes tells someone that they did such-and-such, while Allah had concealed it for them. They slept under the cover of Allah, and they removed Allah’s covering from themselves in the morning.” [Bukhari; Muslim]
You should also be concerned about the enormity of namima (talebearing). Imam Ghazali said, “Talebearing is a term that is usually applied only to someone who conveys to a person what another has said about him, such as by saying, ‘So-and-so says such and such about you.’ In fact, talebearing is not limited to that, but rather consists of revealing anything whose disclosure is resented, whether resented by the person who originally said it, the person to whom it is disclosed, or by a third party.
It makes no difference whether the disclosure is in word, writing, a sign, nodding, or other; whether it concerns word or deed; or whether it concerns something bad or otherwise. The reality of talebearing lies in divulging a secret, in revealing something confidential whose disclosure is resented. A person should not speak of anything he notices about people besides that which benefits a Muslim to relate or prevents disobedience. [Keller, Reliance of The Traveller]
The onus for learning about your family’s reputation is on the suitor, and it is permissible for another to tell him about your father’s gambling. When another informs a suitor about your father, it is not backbiting (ghiba) but is seen as counsel (nasiha). However, if they chose to use allusive words, such as “her father’s habits don’t match with your family“, it would be superior. [Safiri, Sharh Bukhari]
Your father’s gambling habit doesn’t mean that you will never get married, but rather, trust in Allah and be assured that the right man will come to you. Perhaps Allah will send you a suitor that will help your father in the long run, or at least, help you regarding your relationship with him. As long as you are fulfilling your father’s rights, and you are reacting correctly to what you face, you will have blessings and success in all that you do, by the grace of Allah.
Please remember this important hadith. “Allah will cover up on the Day of Resurrection the faults of the one who covers up the faults of the others in this world.” [Muslim]
Please see these answers as well:
How Much Should I Reveal When Asked About the Character of a Prospective Spouse?
I Hate My Future Wife’s Father
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, where she completed her Masters 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.