Question: I have been in cohabitation with three children, and I want to marry my partner. What is the Islamic ruling?
Thank you for your question. I am delighted to see that you want to make your relationship permissible. I pray that Allah makes this easy and that you can be a good role model for your children in family affairs and in their religion.
A Valid Nikah
You have not mentioned whether you are male or female. If you are male and your partner is Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, you should go to a local imam and conduct a nikah with two witnesses. Your children can be present if you wish. Please do ask your wife to consider learning and converting to Islam. If she is of neither of those religions, then I am afraid that a nikah with her will not be valid until she converts to Islam.
If you are a female Muslim, your partner must convert to Islam first, and then you can have a nikah conducted by your local imam and two witnesses. It would be highly recommended to have your father present as your guardian.
Repent, Learn, and Change
Please note that once your marriage has taken place, you should repent for the illicit relationship and be determined never to repeat such behavior. Ask Allah to protect your children from being in such a relationship as well. Please be sure to take a course on marriage to learn about your rights and responsibilities and a course on raising children with an Islamic upbringing.
I pray that you can live as a happy family, devoted to each other and to Allah and His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and strive to learn and apply all that you can in Islam. May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.