Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
My husband is a convert to Islam. He took his Islam seriously when we first married. Since we moved to the house he was raised in, everything has changed. We are far away from my parents and our Muslim friends.
I discovered by accident that he was meeting and having sex with another woman, that he is drinking alcohol regularly when I’m not around, that sometimes he didn’t even have wudu when we were praying together.
His family knows he converted but he drinks with them and never mentions Islamic things. He promised he would not have an affair or drink again, but I discovered that he has been drinking again. What can I do?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us. Please forgive me for the delay. Your question required much reflection and consultation.
Difficulties With Husband
Dear sister, I am so sorry about the great tribulation you find yourself in. You love your husband, he is a kind man, but you have found out that he has broken his promise to you.
People who struggle with addictions often have deep pain. The Power of Addiction and The Addiction of Power: Gabor Maté at TEDxRio+20
From what you have described of his parents and childhood, I cannot begin to imagine the amount of trauma he is carrying around. It sounds like he has been trying to drown out his deep sorrow using addictions such as sex, drugs and alcohol.
Please ensure that he has had a blood test done to ensure he has not caught any sexually-transmitted infections, which he can then pass to you.
“And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And if a heavily laden soul calls [another] to [carry some of] its load, nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be a close relative. You can only warn those who fear their Lord unseen and have established prayer. And whoever purifies himself only purifies himself for [the benefit of] his soul. And to Allah is the [final] destination.” [Qur’an 35:18]
Dear sister, it is only natural for you to want to protect your marriage. He is so blessed to have such a loyal wife.
However, it is not your duty to protect your husband from himself. Only he can do that. Your duty is to be a compassionate, faithful and loving wife. That is hard to do when he has been unfaithful to you, and continues to break his promises.
Unfortunately, you are unable to force him to change. All you can do is set boundaries on acceptable behaviour. I suggest that both of you attend culturally-sensitive marital counselling. If he is unwilling to, then please go by yourself. You need to figure out for yourself, if this is a marriage you are willing to stay in.
I suggest that you reach out to your family for help. You do not have to offer specific details, but you can describe that your husband is going through a hard time, and you are struggling too. Your parents will be heartbroken, but perhaps they can reach out to your husband and positively influence him.
Healing Power of Connection
We all need love and connection to thrive. Your husband has lost his connection to himself, and his connection to Allah. Both of you have lost your connection to a strong Muslim community.
Find ways to grow these connections, starting with your own connection to Allah, your own connection to yourself, and your connection to your husband. You cannot force your husband, but you can nourish your own soul.
Is it possible for you to move closer to your parents, your Muslim friends, or another location with a stronger Muslim community? It sounds like your husband has gone back to his old ways because he has returned to a location of so much past sin. Darkness brings about more darkness, and light brings about more light.
At this stage of his life journey, It is better for him to not be in such regular contact with his non-Muslim family, especially because his faith is so fragile. He is too easily influenced by their dunya-seeking ways. Perhaps one day, when his faith is stronger, he can be a source of guidance for them. Right now, he is not ready to be continually exposed to them.
Prayer of Need
Please wake up in the last third of the night (even if 10 minutes before the entry of Fajr) and perform the Prayer of Need. Pour out your sorrow to Him. Beg Allah to ease this burden.
Prayer of Guidance
If your husband continues to break his promises, drink alcohol, have affairs, and so on, dear sister, I ask you to consider this – what will happen if you fall pregnant? Do you want him, in his current state, to the the father of your child?
Please know that having a baby is not a magical cure that will fix your marriage. Well-meaning relatives may try to suggest that. However, the stress of a newborn can break an already troubled marriage. You want to have a husband who is firm on his faith, so he can be a support to you in your vulnerable times of pregnancy, post-partum recover, and the exhausting early years of child-rearing.
Your husband is likely to fall back on unhealthy coping mechanisms.
It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allah is divorce.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Please exhaust all options before considering divorce as a last resort.
Please do not blame yourself for his choices. He is a grown man, with deep trauma, and perhaps going separate ways will be better for both of you. If Allah has written for him to return to you, then inshaAllah he will return, after his repentance, as a stronger Muslim.
Reflect on the possibility that it may be better for you to be divorced, with a heart and body free to worship Allah, than to be tied to a man who is growing more and more distant from Allah. No man is worth losing faith over.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.