Can a Marriage That Started with Adultery Be Valid?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

My husband and I began our relationship in a haram way over a decade ago. He was married at the time; I was not. I got pregnant- and when I was about 14 weeks, we went to a mosque and married. They didn’t know us, and we didn’t tell them anything. We have lived as a married couple since (2nd wife) and have that first child and another child.

What does this mean for the validity of my marriage? What does it mean for the first child (whom I was pregnant with at the time of marriage) and the second child (born several years later)? Can they inherit from their father? Carry his name? Is it considered that we have been living in zina all this time? Can we conceal this from them for their sake?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide every dimension of our lives to that which pleases Him.

I am sure that since the unlawful engagements, you and your husband have returned to Allah in repentance, and if not, know that repentance is your priority, and Allah knows best.

Based on your description, your marriage (assuming that all the integrals of marriage were in order) remains valid, and Allah knows best.

While the first child was conceived out of wedlock, Sacred Law would treat this child as legitimate in terms of their rights and responsibilities because the child was born after six months (the minimum period of a valid gestation) of marriage, and Allah knows best.

The Bed and the Stone

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘The child will be attributed to the bed, and the adulterer will receive the stone. [Muslim]

The “bed” means the marital bond, such that the child will be ascribed to the wife’s husband unless he undertakes a public imprecation of her (lian). [Nawawi, Sharh Muslim]

Since the man in question was your husband for more than six months of your pregnancy (based on your description of nikah at fourteen weeks), rulings of Sacred Law would apply as though the child is legitimate.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.