Clarification Regarding the Relationship Between the Validity of a Marriage Contract and the Religious Practice of the Spouses-to-Be

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I have a question regarding a statement in one of your previous answers titled “Does the Quran Prohibit the Marriage of a Fornicator and a Non-Fornicator? “In the article it states “As for the marriage of one who fails to repent, it is valid since the contract’s validity is unrelated to the religious practice of the person getting married.”  I’m confused about this statement because by the same logic it could imply that if you marry more than 4 wives, or marry two sisters at the same time, etc., then such marriage contracts would be valid because they are unrelated to the religious practice of the person involved. But we know that such marriages are invalid. So how is it in the case of fornication the contract is legally valid when Allah has prohibited it in Quran 24:3 just like he prohibited the previous mentioned marriages? Does the prohibited in Quran 24:3 have any legal implications when it comes to marriage?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

The answer in question is the following:

Does the Qur’an Prohibit the Marriage of a Fornicator and a Non-Fornicator?

As the answer states, the prohibition of the verse was understood by the majority of scholars to be a “prohibition of counsel”, not a legal prohibition entailing sin or affecting validity of the marriage contract.

The statement you ask about means that the contract’s validity is unrelated to the personal religious practice of the spouses-to-be, i.e., whether either spouse commits major or minor sins, or whether either one is extremely pious. One spouse could be a saint and the other a fornicator, yet the contract itself would still be valid. The verse is just strongly emphasizing that such a marriage would not be a very successful one.

Please also note the emphasis on repentance and piety in the answer, both of which are key ingredients in all of one’s affairs, particularly marriage. Repentance from any sin, especially an enormity like fornication, is obligatory in and of itself.

In terms of the other examples you mention, such as marrying a 5th wife or marrying 2 sisters at once, these are indeed invalid marriages. These examples have nothing to do with personal religious practice, and so the statement made in the answer holds true.

I hope this helps.

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved  by Faraz Rabbani