Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
My wife is Hindu, and I am a convert to Islam. While she respects Islam, but she said she has no wish or inclination ever to convert.
Whenever we speak about it, she is adamant about the religious and spiritual freedom of our children to choose their religion and seems to want to expose them to the customs of different faiths…
Am I committing zina when I have sexual relations with my wife? How can I remain steadfast in a way that is pleasing to God? I have made the intention to support my wife and family and lead a pious, righteous life that might please Him, that it might go some way in calling them and others to Islam.
How can I have patience when my mother-in-law visits and sings Hindu songs while I pray? Or when she tells stories of the scriptures? What am I supposed to do? From the Prophet’s life and those of other Messengers, may peace and blessings be on Muhammed and all Messengers of God; they had to take difficult decisions and stances, offending loved ones or even leaving them behind—how can I show respect to her as my elder and as mother and grandmother to my family without neglecting my responsibility as a believer to uphold my religion and lead my family?
Thank you for your important question.
I pray this finds you well. May Allah you for reaching out to us.
Validity of Marriage
Dear questioner, I have consulted my teachers about your very delicate situation.
When you become Muslim, your wife had until the end of her ‘idda to become Muslim. Since she did not, then you are divorced. Sexual relations with her are zina.
“Or (even) did you reckon that you should enter the Garden, while as yet there had not come up to you the like of (the ones) who passed away even before you? Misery and tribulation touched them, and (they) were shaken until the Messenger and the ones who believed with him said, ‘When does victory from Allah (come)?’ Verily, victory from Allah is surely near.” [Quran, 2:214]
I am sorry to be the bearer of such difficult news. Please know that there is wisdom behind every tribulation, and if handled well, then this is an opportunity for you to grow even closer to Allah.
It is clear to me that you have a deep love for Allah Most High and His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). I pray that this love will carry you through the transitions you have ahead of you.
In the meantime, you will need to look at practical steps forward.
You can no longer touch or be in seclusion with your former wife, and you will need to decide how to modify your living arrangements. This is how you remain steadfast and do that which is pleasing to God – by aligning your life with Divine Law.
One of my teachers described a scenario where a wife and son converted to Islam, but her husband did not. The former spouses still live in the same house but sleep in separate bedrooms.
I am concerned about the spiritual care of your children. You will need to take full responsibility for their spiritual upbringing, as your former wife is not Muslim and says that she has no intention of being so. Allah is the Turner of hearts, so please continue to make dua for her guidance, and do not lose hope.
You will need to consider reducing your work hours, so you can spend more time with your children. Most Muslim breadwinners who work full-time entrust the spiritual care of their children to the parent who stays at home, and most of the time, that is the mother. It is up to you to shoulder that responsibility, even if it means hiring the right kind of Islamic teacher. Please do your due diligence, and do not leave your children alone with the teacher.
Your children are innocent from sin. They remain blessings for you and your former wife. Please continue to make dua for their guidance.
Even though you are no longer married, your future mother-in-law is still the grandmother of your children. You are permitted to set polite and firm boundaries with her if need be. Yours is a Muslim household because you are the leader of your family, and it is fair for you to request that she respect that.
I doubt she will take kindly to your decision to raise her grandchildren Muslim.
This is why your connection with your children is incredibly important – connection brings about influence. Associate love, compassion, and patience with your daily interactions with them, and they will see Islam embodied in that.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked and 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, Aqida, Tasawwuf, Tafsir, and Tajwid. She continued to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersGuidance. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from the 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 resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.