How Does Incest Impact One’s Marriage in the Shafi’i School?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


I heard that according to the Hanafi School of Thought, incest invalidates a nikah. In the Shafi’i School of thought, does incest nullify a nikah, or can true repentance suffice for an individual to maintain the validity of their nikah?

If an individual is Hanafi and has committed incest, can they accept this ruling without disclosing their sin, or must they separate from their spouse and children and seek a new nikah elsewhere? I apologize for troubling you. These are trying times, and many people are distant from religion.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.

It is important to note that incest, or sexual relations between close family members, is strictly prohibited in Islam. The prohibition of incest applies universally across all Islamic Schools of Thought and is not specific to any particular School, such as the Hanafi or Shafi’i Schools. [Al-Mawsu‘a al-Fiqhiyya al-Kuwaytiyya]

Regarding whether incest breaks a nikah, the Shafi’i School considers true and sincere repentance (tawba) to suffice for an individual to maintain the validity of their nikah. They don’t need to disclose their sin to others, but they must seek guidance and support to make meaningful changes in their life. [Nawawi, al-Majmu‘]

Critical to Repent

However, it is essential to understand that the issue of incest is not just a legal matter but also a moral and ethical one. Incest is a grave sin that carries severe consequences in this life and the Hereafter. It is essential for individuals who have engaged in such behavior to seek sincere repentance and make amends for their actions.

Status of the Nikah in the Hanafi School

If an individual is Hanafi and has committed incest, they should seek guidance from a qualified Hanafi Scholar regarding the status of their nikah. They should also seek sincere repentance and try to rectify their behavior, such as seeking counseling and therapy.

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 has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.